Rolling Stones – Can’t You Hear Me Knocking

This track sums up the 70s Stones very well. Great riff, great tone, and great Mick Jagger vocal. This song and album were produced by Jimmy Miller who also played percussion on this track.

This song was on the album Sticky Fingers. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in the UK and #1 in Canada in 1971.

The Stones played a shorter version of this song a few times before it was released on the Sticky Fingers album. These performances took place on their 11-date UK farewell tour before they left England to avoid taxes. After these shows, they didn’t play it live again until 2002, at which point they could bring alone plenty of musicians to support it.

Mick Taylor: “‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ is one of my favorites. (The jam at the end) just happened by accident; that was never planned. Towards the end of the song I just felt like carrying on playing. Everybody was putting their instruments down, but the tape was still rolling and it sounded good, so everybody quickly picked up their instruments again and carried on playing. It just happened, and it was a one-take thing. A lot of people seem to really like that part.” 


From Songfacts

This is an unusually long Stones track, running 7:14. Mick Jagger’s work is done by 2:45, however, as the groove plays out for the next four-and-a-half minutes. The Stones were experimenting with different styles around this time, and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?” has a distinct Santana influence.

This featured Bobby Keys on sax, Rocky Dijon on percussion, and Billy Preston on the organ. Keys, along with trumpet player Jim Price, joined The Stones on their 1970 European tour after performing on Sticky Fingers. His lengthy sax solo on this track wasn’t planned out, but once he got going, he kept blowing while the tape ran and Keith Richards loved it.

Probably best not to read too much into the lyrics of this one, since even Mick Jagger isn’t exactly sure what he wrote. As Robert Greenfield recounts in his book Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye, shortly before the album was released, someone realized that the lyrics for this song and a few others had not been filed, making them impossible to copyright. Members of the Stones camp were dispatched to write down the words by listening to the acetate pressings, and on this song, the best they could come up with for one of the lines near the end was “I’ve got flatted feet, now.” Jagger insisted he didn’t write that line, but couldn’t remember what the real line was, so it stuck.

Andy Warhol designed the Sticky Fingers album cover. Before he started working on it, Mick Jagger send Warhol a note warning that a complicated design could cause nasty production delays, but nonetheless giving him total creative control. The artist responded with a cover that contained an actual working zipper, which of course was a production nightmare.

The cover, however, was one of the most memorable ever made. It showed a man wearing very tight jeans behind that working zipper – many folks assumed this was Mick Jagger, but it was actually Joe Dallesandro, a actor and Warhol cohort. Dallesandro appeared on the cover of the April 15, 1971 issue of Rolling Stone magazine; the album was released on April 23.

Jimmy Miller mixed records for The Spencer Davis Group and produced Steve Winwood’s next group, Traffic.

This was used in the movies Casino (1995), Blow (2001), Without a Paddle (2004) and The Fighter (2010).

Mick Taylor was lead guitarist for The Stones at the time. This was one of his earliest songs with the band – he replaced Brian Jones, who died in 1969.


This appears in the video game Guitar Hero II.

With mentions of “cocaine eyes” and “speed-freak jive,” this song contains some pretty obvious drug references, which makes sense considering the company the band was keeping at the time – pretty much everyone in their circle was doing drugs.

Can’t You Hear Me Knocking

Yeah, you got satin shoes
Yeah, you got plastic boots
Y’all got cocaine eyes
Yeah, you got speed freak jive now

Can’t you hear me knockin’
On your window
Can’t you hear me knockin’
On your door
Can’t you hear me knockin’
Down your dirty street
All right now

Help me baby
I ain’t no stranger
Help me baby
I ain’t no stranger

Can’t you hear me knockin’
Are you safe asleep
Can’t you hear me knockin’
Down your gaslight street
Can’t you hear me knockin’
Throw me down the keys

Hear me ringin’
Big bell toll
Hear me singin’
Soft and low
I’ve been beggin’
On my knees
I’ve been kickin’
Help me please

Hear me howlin’
I wanna take you down
Hear me growlin’
Yeah, I got flatted feet now now now
Hear me prowlin’
All around your street
Hear me knockin’
All around your town

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

14 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”

  1. The intro is just masterful. Mick Taylor really complimented Richards, better than Ron Wood, which is saying a lot and better than, even, Brian Jones, which is saying more. With Jones–a phenomenal musician–there was a creative tension that sometimes undermined the composition. Ron Wood, is perhaps, too complementary. Mick Taylor was the perfect mix of talent and subjection.


  2. not your average Stones track but pretty good. think only times I ever heard it were on a show called “Pyschedelic Sundays” the classic rock station in Toronto used to have. Probably too long for most radio to play… kind of surprised they didn’t put out a much shorter version as a 7″.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That does resemble that…you are right.
      John I’ll be around to your blog soon…work this week has kept me hopping.


  3. So it is Mick Taylor playing that opening rift and lead throughout? One of my favorite Stones tunes now that I’m listening to it. There will never be another Rolling Stones. Really good info on the song and the album. All this time I was thinking that was Mick Jagger’s body on the album cover. I looked up the guy who it is and he was friggin godlike in his looks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No that is Keith playing the opening riff. Mick Taylor though helped make that sound. I like Ronnie Wood but Taylor was an excellent guitar player. I wish he would have stayed.
      lol yea that guy was in the Warhol group I believe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When he came to the Stones…he was drug free…except pot… and he left a heroin addict…but another thing was he helped write some songs and Keith and Mick would not give him credit. You can tell…as great as Keith is at what he does…he isn’t an intricate guitar player…
        I don’t think Mick and Keith dispute it now.

        Liked by 1 person

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