Rolling Stones – Shattered

I remember this one very well. I bought the single and then the album a little while later. It’s a great rock song with some punk in it. It’s on the album Some Girls that was released in 1978.

This was the last song on Some Girls. While they were recording this album, Keith Richards had drug charges hanging over his head from a bust in Toronto. Facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, Keith let Mick take control of the album, which is shown on songs like this. Richards ended up getting off easy… he was sentenced to probation and ordered to play a concert for the blind.

Richards came up with the guitar riff on this and the line “Sha-doobie.” Jagger wrote the rest.

They performed this on Saturday Night Live and to this viewer they were not as tight as normal. Turns out they drank a lot of alcohol, did some seventies substances and rehearsed a lot before show time… after watching the rehearsals it seems like they made the mistake of peaking too early during the rehearsals. By showtime they didn’t sound as strong as usual…but it still was a good show.

The song peaked at #31 in the Billboard 100 and #32 in Canada in 1978.

From Songfacts

The lyrics are a bleak picture of life in New York City. The Stones always had a love/hate relationship with the US, and Mick Jagger’s lyrics were often influenced by his thoughts on the country (see “Satisfaction”). New York in particular is a place where you could be wildly successful, but is also a city filled crime, drugs, and poverty. It should be noted that The Stones have taken shots at their home country of England as well, notably on “Hang Fire.”

Just after this was released, The Stones performed it on Saturday Night Live. It was memorable for Mick Jagger licking Ron Wood on the lips for about 5 seconds. This stuff just didn’t happen on TV back them.

When Jagger sings, “Shmatta, shmatta, shmatta, I can’t give it away on 7th Avenue, this town’s been wearing tatters,” he’s making reference to the fashion district of New York City, which is on 7th Avenue. The word “Shmatta” is slang for old, worn clothing. 


Uh huh shattered, uh huh shattered
Love and hope and sex and dreams
Are still surviving on the street
Look at me, I’m in tatters!
I’m a shattered

Friends are so alarming
My lover’s never charming
Life’s just a cocktail party on the street
Big Apple
People dressed in plastic bags
Directing traffic
Some kind of fashion

Laughter, joy, and loneliness and sex and sex and sex and sex
Look at me, I’m in tatters
I’m a shattered

All this chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter ’bout
Shmatta, shmatta, shmatta, I can’t give it away on 7th Avenue
This town’s been wearing tatters (shattered, sha ooobie shattered)

Work and work for love and sex
Ain’t you hungry for success, success, success, success
Does it matter? (shattered)
Does it matter?

Ah look at me
I’m shattered
I’m shattered 0
Look at me, I’m a shattered, yeah (shattered)

Pride and joy and greed and sex
That’s what makes our town the best
Pride and joy and dirty dreams and still surviving on the street
And look at me, I’m in tatters, yeah
I’ve been battered, what does it matter
Does it matter, uh-huh
Does it matter, uh-huh, I’m a shattered

Mmm, I’m shattered, unh
Sha oobie, shattered, unh
Sha oobie, shattered
Sha oobie, shattered, shattered

Don’t you know the crime rate is going up, up, up, up, up
To live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough!
You got rats on the West Side
Bed bugs uptown
What a mess this town’s in tatters, I’ve been shattered
My brain’s been battered, splattered all over Manhattan

Sha oobie, shattered, shattered, what say
Sha oobie, shattered
Sha oobie, shattered
Sha oobie, shattered

Uh-huh, this town’s full of money grabbers
Go ahead, bite the Big Apple, don’t mind the maggots, huh
Sha oobie, my brain’s been battered
My friends they come around they
Flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter
Pile it up, pile it up, pile high on the platter

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

24 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Shattered”

  1. This song sounds monotonous, its structure is underdeveloped. “Shattered” as an emotional state for being able to live a broken life. The difference between “shattered” and “shidoobey” is a difference between reality and reaction.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great track from a great record. Always love it when they strip back the sound and go into that barroom rock. That’s why I love ‘Doom and Gloom’ stripped to the core.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Always loved this song. I think the lyrics make the song – always like the line “take a bite out of the big apple don’t mind the maggots”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I know the song well enough but never realized it was a single. You mentioned one I’d not thought about in years – “Hang Fire”…I liked that song a lot.


  5. I was born in Brooklyn and one thing that I find interesting about this song is the word shmatta which is Yiddish for a rag, or it could mean anything that is shabby. If you spell my last name Adams backwards it becomes Smada, which is defined in the Urban Dictionary as the act of saying something completely random to attract attention to yourself, and/or create an awkward situation. That might describe me perfectly and smada rhymes with shmatta.


  6. Some Girls may be my favorite Stones album. I really love it and Shattered is my favorite song off the album. It is so funky. So grunge. So perfect. That guitar riff…it’s so fantastic…
    From what I’ve heard, the Stones are hit and miss live–at least they were back in the day. I’ve known people who have seen them multiple time and said that the concerts varied wildly in terms of quality. I’ve only seen them once–at Vanderbilt stadium and I thought they were great.


  7. Looks like the Stones have been on both of our minds. I got a related post scheduled for tomorrow…

    While “Shattered” admittedly isn’t my favorite Stones tune, it’s not a bad song. I’m also a bit lukewarm about “Some Girls” overall, which I realize some Stones fans consider to be their best album. I much more prefer “Sticky Fingers.”

    Oh, well, I guess differences in taste is a good thing. The world would be a bit boring, if we all liked the same music!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Some Girls belongs in the talk of their best albums…but yea Sticky Fingers is the one…to me. I love the title track Some Girls…it’s sleazy but good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So I just gave “Some Girls” another listen and actually enjoyed it overall, including Keith’s song.

        It’s funny how time occasionally can change your perspective. Even “Miss You,” which I used to be really lukewarm about, now sounds pretty acceptable. I’ve always liked “When the Whip Comes Down” and “Beast of Burden.”

        Interestingly, I also dig “Far Away Eyes,” yet another county song! The lyrics are just hilarious. Plus, Ronnie Wood does a nice job on pedal steel!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes! I will change at times with songs. Miss You is not my favorite off the album… but yea I love Beast of Burden…Far Away Eyes I saw them play live…I can’t believe they played that one.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It was buried in the back of the album… I’m surprised it was released as a single… but some love it. As a bar band this one and She’s So Cold were naturals.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me neither, they were always priced well above my budget in the 90s/00s. I remembered Pete townshend using them in a who recording session…might have been who are you. Sounded stellar with a LP

        Liked by 1 person

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