A friend once commented to me that “Sour Girl,” the Stone Temple Pilots hit off of their turn-of-the-millenium (for those of you keeping track: 1999) album, No. 4, sounded like it could have been by XTC. And as many of you are probably aware, XTC is a very different band than Stone Temple Pilots. Very. But I could sort of see what might have led them to that idea, as the production and instrumentation, more acoustic than STP had previously been known for, had a similar tonal range as some of XTC’s music from the mid-’80s and beyond. Stone Temple Pilots should have definitely taken it as a compliment in any case. But any compliments for “Sour Girl” were well earned, don’t get me wrong — I still consider it their best song: simultaneously dark/brooding and poppy/Beatlesque, not an easy feat to pull off successfully. It was the first time that I saw Scott Weiland as successfully distancing himself vocally from the widely held opinion that he had been aping Eddie Vedder — an accusation that I myself hadn’t completely disagreed with. Despite owning a couple of their other albums, it was only with this album that I started to not feel somewhat self-conscious about enjoying some of their songs.
The lyrics are a bit mysterious yet interesting, seeming to be the protestations of someone being blamed for draining the happiness from his ex-girlfriend over the duration of their relationship. He believes, in fact, that it was the other way around:
She turned away, what was she looking at?
She was a sour girl the day that she met me.
Hey! What are you looking at?
She was a happy girl the day that she left me.
That’s my face-value take, anyway — I’m sure you could put an even darker twist on it if you wanted to read more into it. Regardless of meaning, I think “Sour Girl” is one of Scott Weiland’s shining moments, and given the difficult road he paved for himself over the course of his career, Weiland certainly has needed all the shining moments he can get. The song has stood the test of time, still sounding great whenever I hear it, aging much better than many of its contemporaries.