Visions of Songs – “Jesse’s Girl”

Music is the soundtrack of our lives. There are movies you watch, things that you do, places you go, experiences you have, etc. that change the way you hear certain songs. Sometimes hearing a song brings you back to an experience. This feature is my way of describing how an experience has altered the way I hear certain songs.

“Jesse’s Girl” was a pop hit for Rick Springfield in 1981. I challenge you to find someone unfamiliar with the song.

In the 1997 film, Boogie Nights, a film that I hold in very high regard, “Jesse’s Girl” is used in a scene. Overall, the soundtrack for Boogie Nights┬áis very profound in that it takes you through the time period of the film, which shows the rise and fall of a porn actor in the 1970’s and 1980’s. There are many pop hits, and just listening to the movie without video, if you were around back then, I’m sure it would bring back some mixed memories.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson really used the music to accentuate the film, as a great director should. His usage of music in this film went beyond that. The selection of “Jesse’s Girl” for the scene in which it is used and the way in which it was used are examples of this.

To set the scene: Dirk Diggler, played by Mark Wahlberg, had made it big in porn. He followed a downward spiral of cocaine use, and somehow got wrapped up in a plot to rob a drug dealer, played by Alfred Molina, by an ominous character played by Tom Jane. Jane’s character’s plan is to enter the dealer’s home for a deal and demand money. The tension builds, the plan is foiled, and they have to escape gunfire. In the below video, the plot is explained, the tension starts to build with “Sister Christian,” then, after a moment of awkward silence as the cassette tape flips to side B, “Jesse’s Girl” kicks in, and the tension continues to build.


Because of this scene, mainly the anxiety that it builds as well as the strong imagery, I will think about Boogie Nights, and specifically this scene, and more specifically this image, every time I hear the it.


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