Those tapes were all intentionally about the art form of using a little girlish voice to say really dirty things and play with pedophilia. That's my way of fisting all the people that I believe exploit a woman's sexuality. But for the people who initially became aroused, if they listened to what I was actually saying, it was a smack in the face. It would be like Dorothy singing, 'And I fucked you!' So at the same time of titillating them, it's to bring them close enough so I can smack 'em. - Liz Phair

Girly Sound is the nom de plume that Liz Phair used to record a set of demos in 1991.

The tapes, sometimes called the Girlysound demos, are a collection of songs Liz wrote while in her late teens/early twenties and recorded on a four-track tape recorder in her bedroom at her parent's home. In the spirit of DIY, they have a very lo-fi sound, featuring only Liz and her electric guitar; however, Liz used overdubbing and multi-tracking to give the songs a more layered effect. Some copies of songs also have a fair amount of tape hiss: people who had the tapes simply made copies of copies and distributed them. Lyrically, the songs are diverse, covering everything from war, relationships, and pimps to jobs and the black market for infants:

This is her first batch of songs and her self-consciousness shows. Being at her parents' house she can't possibly weigh her words with a passion that might complement her music but the result is an unbearable nervous calm that's unsettling and beautiful. Her singing style is a drawl, as if she's talking into her own head about every friend, fuck or house she's known...She fills her songs with the mundane details that turn into jewels inside her hesitant mouth. - Tae Won Yu, Chemical Imbalance

Allegedly recorded and released as a dare, these tapes were given by Liz to just Chris Brokaw and Tae Won Yu, but the tapes were dubbed and circulated among people who traded tapes or had heard of them through zines such as Girl Germs, Chickfactor, Rockpool or Chemical Imbalance. A version of "White Babies" that Liz left on Tae Won Yu's answering machine even wound up on a compilation called Chinny Chin Chin: 4 N.Y. Bands. Eventually, Liz sent the president of Matador Records, Gerard Cosley, a six-song tape, and they offered her an advance to record a single. The single soon became the recording sessions with Brad Wood that produced Exile in Guyville.

Many of the songs on the tapes were rough original versions of songs that ended up on her later albums. "Divorce Song", "Johnny Sunshine", "Fuck and Run", "Soap Star Joe", "Girls Girls Girls", "Shatter", "Stratford-On-Guy" and a retitled version of "Clean" called "Never Said" were included on Exile in Guyville. Both Whip-Smart and the Juvenilia EP made use of five Girly Sound tracks: "Shane", "Go West", "Whip-Smart", "Chopsticks" and a song called "Thrax", which the song "Jealousy" was partially comprised of, made it onto the former; "Dead Shark", "South Dakota", "California", "Batmobile" and "Easy" were re-formatted for the latter. A retitled version of "Give Me My Boyfriend Back", called "Six Dick Pimp", was contributed to the soundtrack of the film Brain Candy. Whitechocolatespaceegg benefited from the inclusion of "Money", retitled "Shitloads of Money", and "Polyester Bride", and the Japanese release of Somebody's Miracle used "Gigalo" and called it "Can't Get Out of What I'm Into".

For those not lucky enough to know anyone with a copy of the demos, there were a couple of bootlegs made available: Secretly Timid, released by Empire Records, contained Girly Sound songs but failed to include twelve of them. Until 2006, when the Liz Phair online forums made original copies of all of the first two tape's songs and some of the third tape's available, the most comprehensive collection of Girly Sound material was bootleg label Bliss & Fetish's two-disc set. The set, while showcasing more songs than Secretly Timid, was nearly inaudible as a result of overzealous digital noise reduction. The original copies, available at, provide several tracks not previously available, and are also of better quality than the bootlegs. The search for the missing third tape is still on, and a few of the songs remain unearthed.

Track Listing:

Tape 1: Yo Yo Buddy Yup Yup Word To Ya Muthuh

Side One:

White Babies
6 Dick Pimp
Divorce Song
Go West
Don't Hold Your Breath
Johnny Sunshine

Side Two:

Miss Lucy
Elvis Song
Dead Shark
One Less Thing
In Love With Yourself
Fuck Or Die

Tape 2: Girls! Girls! Girls!

Side One:

Hello Sailor
Wild Thing
Fuck and Run
Easy Target
Soap Star Joe
Ant in Alaska
Girls Girls Girls

Side Two:

Polyester Bride
Miss Mary Mack
Love Song

Tape 3:

This is the as-yet unlocated third tape. This list is most likely incomplete and in the incorrect order.

Go Speed Racer
Open Season
South Dakota

Works Cited:

Girly Sound
Liz Phair Discography
Liz Phair Discography @ Never Said
Girlysound Overview
Matador Records
Mesmerizing - Chemical Imbalance Magazine, circa 1992
Mesmerizing - Girl Germs No. 3, August 1991
Mesmerizing - Girly Sound
The Girly Sounds Era

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