Rolling Stones – Under My Thumb

This is a great early Stones song. It was not released as a single which surprises me…so it did not chart. This is one of the many riff songs that the Stones started to have. On this one, Brian Jones is playing the riff on the marimbas on the studio version. Brian gave the Stones different sounds that they would not have had otherwise. Another example would be Brian playing the recorder in Ruby Tuesday…he added different colors to the music.

There have been a lot of complaints about this song…the word “misogynist” comes to mind. Mick Jagger was going out with a model named Chrissie Shrimpton at the time. She helped inspire the song. This is the rare song that I prefer their late sixties live version over the studio one…where the bass plays the main riff.

Some feminist groups opposed this because of the lyrics about dominating a woman. One of the lyrics that upset them the most is the line, “The way she talks when she’s spoken to… down to me.”

Mick Jagger: “The whole idea was that I was under HER, she was kicking ME around. So the whole idea is absurd, all I did was turn the tables around. So women took that to be against femininity where in reality it was trying to ‘get back’ against being a repressed male.”

From Songfacts

Keith Richards (1994): “Brian was still fantastic making records, because he was so versatile. I mean, he’d have marimbas – which is why you have marimbas on Under My Thumb – or dulcimer, sitar. He kind of lost interest in guitar, in a way. But at the same time he added all of that other color, those other instruments and other ideas. He was an incredibly inventive musician.” 

This was the song The Stones were playing when a fan named Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by members of the Hells Angels at their Altamont Speedway concert in 1969. The Hells Angels were a motorcycle gang hired for security at the show. Big mistake.

The Angel who stabbed Hunter, Alan Passaro, was found not guilty, with a jury ruling that he acted in self defense; Hunter produced a gun before he was killed. Footage of the stabbing that appeared in the Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter was shown at the trial.

The Who recorded this in 1967 as a show of support when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were being held in England on drug charges. After police raided Richards’ home in Sussex, he and Jagger were charged with drug possession when they found some marijuana and amphetamines. Jagger and Richards were found guilty and each spent a night in jail before they were released on bail. The raid was done mostly for publicity and backfired on British lawmakers when it became clear the police staged a massive raid to uncover a small amount of drugs. Charges against Richards were dropped and Jagger’s sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge.

Under My Thumb  (lyrics may not match the live version)

Under my thumb
The girl who once had me down
Under my thumb
The girl who once pushed me around

It’s down to me
The difference in the clothes she wears
Down to me, the change has come
She’s under my thumb

And ain’t it the truth babe?

Under my thumb
It’s a squirmin’ dog who’s just had her day
Under my thumb
A girl who has just changed her ways

It’s down to me
Yes it is
The way she does just what she’s told down to me
The change has come
She’s under my thumb
Ah, ah, say it’s alright

Under my thumb
It’s a Siamese cat of a girl
Under my thumb
She’s the sweetest, hmmm, pet in the world

It’s down to me
The way she talks when she’s spoken to
Down to me, the change has come
She’s under my thumb
Ah, take it easy babe
Yeah

It’s down to me, oh yeah
The way she talks when she’s spoken to
Down to me, the change has come
She’s under my thumb
Yeah, it feels alright

Under my thumb
Her eyes are just kept to herself
Under my thumb, well I
I can still look at someone else

It’s down to me, oh that’s what I said
The way she talks when she’s spoken to
Down to me, the change has come
She’s under my thumb
Say, it’s alright

Say it’s all
Say it’s all

Take it easy babe
Take it easy babe
Feels alright
Take it, take it easy babe

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

7 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Under My Thumb”

  1. Never been a big favorite of mine but neither do I see why it’s been SOcontroversial for so many years. A Canadian band called Streetheart had a pretty big hit in Canada with a reasonably faithful cover of it in the 70s.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That power game can be played both ways, as Mick said, so I don’t see it as misogynistic. I’m not sure I believe it happened to Mick though. lol, though you never know… The theme of the song reminds me of The Police song, “Wrapped Around My Finger.” I really like the song, for more than just the words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it can and I’ve seen it both ways. Their song “Some Girls” is much worse than this one. No I doubt if it happened to Mick at that time…maybe with Bianca a bit later for a little while.

      Liked by 1 person

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