First things first: Many of you are probably wondering why we didn’t talk to Matthew Sweet about the title track of his classic 1991 album, Girlfriend. It is, after all, his biggest hit and maybe his best-known song. Did we purposely not talk about “Girlfriend” just for the sake of being obscure?
The short answer is: No. Here’s the slightly longer answer: When we asked Sweet about “Girlfriend,” he confessed that it didn’t really have a good story behind it. It was just something he banged out without much thought; in his mind it was the “dumb” song of the Girlfriend bunch, so of course it ended up being the most popular. “I’ve Been Waiting” was also released as a single from the album, but that song had a much deeper meaning for Sweet: It's about meeting the woman who became his wife. Who could resist talking about that?
We met up with Sweet at his house in the Hollywood Hills, a place that conjures the classic Southern California pop sounds that Sweet draws from on Girlfriend. A Nebraska native, Sweet didn’t actually move to L.A. until he was making the fantastically dark sequel to Girlfriend, 1993’s Altered Beast, which was produced by frequent Fleetwood Mac cohort Richard Dashut.
Sweet was a gracious host, introducing us to his wife and inspiration for “I’ve Been Waiting,” Lisa. Sweet’s living room was filled with vintage furniture, sitars, cats, and homemade pottery, which Sweet sells to fans as merch when he tours. (Apparently it’s pretty lucrative.) In the back, there’s a studio where Sweet recorded his latest album, Modern Art. We asked Lisa if she wanted to come on camera, but she prefers to live on in one of her husband’s prettiest songs.