I Want a Little Girl, by Moll & Mencher

Morton Bartlett (c.1950)
Morton Bartlett (c.1950)

“I Want a Little Girl” is a famous jazz song, ranking 360 among jazz standards according to JazzStandards.com. Written by Billy Moll and composed by Murray Mencher in 1930, it has for over 70 years been interpreted by many famous musicians, in various musical styles: jazz, soul, country and blues.

However, despite its beautiful unsophisticated lyrics which should appeal to many, now it seems mostly forgotten by the general public. The only version of Wikipedia mentioning it is the German one. Here is my transcription of the lyrics (there are small changes in the interpretations by various singers):

I want a little girl
lyrics by Billy Moll, music by Murray Mencher

I want a little girl to love a lot
I’d give her everything that I’ve got
For a little girl
Who’d fall in love with me

I want a little girl, she may not look
Like the kind in a pictures book
But if she can cook
She’ll suit me to a T

She don’t have to wave her hair
Or dress in fancy clothes
And I wouldn’t even care
If she don’t wear silken hose

I want a little girl to call my own
There must be someone that’s all alone
Just a little girl
Who’d fall in love with me

It was recorded on July 30, 1930 in Camden, New Jersey, by McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, an African American jazz band. It was the B side of a record on the Victor label, whose A side was titled “Okay, Baby”. Here is a YouTube video of it:

The song, with basically the same lyrics, was interpreted by famous rythm and blues singers, among which Count Basie, B.B. King and Nat King Cole (who both added a few new words at the end).

Here is a recent interpretation in country music style by The Snake Oil Charmers:

There are other interpretations with some changes in the lyrics, in particular the first and fourth stanzas are inverted: one by Louis Armstrong (1946 original and remastered version), and a beautiful one by Ray Charles:

More recently, it was sung by Eric Clapton in his album Reptile, dated March 13, 2001. Here are the lyrics from The Eric Clapton Lyric Archive:

I want a little girl, call my own.
She must be someone who’s all alone now.
Say, I want a little girl to fall in love with me, oh yeah.

I want a little girl, but she may not look
Just like a picture in a story book.
If she can cook chicken, yeah, she’ll suit me to a T.

And she don’t have to wave her hair
Or even wear fancy clothes, I wouldn’t even care.
She don’t wear nylon hose, oh.

I want a little girl to love a lot.
You know that I’d give her everything I got.
I want a little girl to fall in love with me.

But I prefer the powerful blues of the live version from his album One More Car, One More Rider released on November 5, 2002:

Here the lyrics are again slightly modified, they can be found on MOJIM.

Unfortunately, I do not know of any more recent interpretation by a famous artist. Today the long tradition of little girl songs seems to wither away.

Previously published on Agapeta, 2018/10/01.

2 thoughts on “I Want a Little Girl, by Moll & Mencher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.