Who was Jessie’s girl?
We’ll probably never know. Not even Rick Springfield, the man who first sang of her existence, seems to be sure. Here’s what he told Songfacts about the subject of his most enduring song:
I don’t know her name. It was a brief relationship I had when I was making stained glass for a while. I was going to a stained glass class in Pasadena, and I met this guy and his girlfriend. I was completely turned on to his girlfriend, but she was just not interested. So I had a lot of sexual angst, and I went home and wrote a song about it. Then about four months later I stopped going to the class and lost contact with them. The only thing I remember is his name was Gary, so I changed the name, because ‘Gary’ didn’t sing very well. But the whole thing is absolutely what I was feeling. He was getting it and I wasn’t, and it was really tearing me up. And sexual angst is an amazing motivator to write a song. Actually, Oprah’s people tried to find her, and they got as far back as finding the stained glass guy. I couldn’t remember his name, but I said it was late ’70s; they found him, and he had died two years earlier, and they’d thrown all his papers out a year after that. So we missed finding out who she was by a year.
As the old saying goes, “When not even Oprah can find you…”
Today, this song is probably best remembered for its prominent use in Boogie Nights and for one frequently misheard lyric. Many people still continue to believe that Springfield sings, “I wish I was Jessie’s girl,” instead of “I wish I had Jessie’s girl.”
This simple video was directed by Rick Springfield himself. The song was Springfield’s second top 20 hit, the first being the now-forgotten Speak To The Sky. At the time that this song and video came out, Springfield was better known for appearing on General Hospital. Though he had started out as a singer, when Springfield’s musical career temporarily stalled, he followed the advice of his then-girlfriend, Linda Blair (yes, that Linda Blair), and pursued an acting career.