Rolling Stones – Midnight Rambler

Sorry if you have seen this already today but it vanished in the reader so I’m republishing it. it…thank you.

Today we look at a song that is best known by the live version. Midnight Rambler is up there with Sympathy For The Devil for setting an eerie atmosphere. I’ve always liked this one…partly because it’s not worn out like many other Stones songs of this era.

The Boston Strangler was the likely inspiration for this song. As for the song, while the lyrics do not directly relate to the case, Jagger implies it when he sings, “Well you heard about the Boston…” before an instrumental stab cuts him off.

n 1965, Albert DeSalvo (the Boston Strangler), who was serving time in a mental institution on rape charges, confessed to the murders and was later sentenced to life in prison. There was no clear physical evidence that DeSalvo committed the crimes, however, and his confession has been questioned, with some forensic experts stating that there may have been multiple killers. DeSalvo died in prison in 1973; new evidence has come up in the case from time to time.

This song was on their great Let It Bleed album released in 1969. But the version that is more known is the version on what I think is their best live album… Get Your Ya Ya’s Out…it was released in 1970. They recorded the version in Madison Square Gardens on their 1969 tour. The sound they had with Mick Taylor was fantastic. His guitar tone was raw and fat and it is instantly recognizable. When he joined the Stones onstage recently…the Stones had that great sound again. Since Mick Taylor left they sound really thin live…to me.

Brian Jones is credited with percussion on the studio version. Even though he died before this album was released, a few of the songs were recorded during the Beggar’s Banquet sessions in 1968.

Keith Richards: “When we did Midnight Rambler, nobody went in there with the idea of doing a blues opera, basically. Or a blues in four parts. That’s just the way it turned out. I think that’s the strength of the Stones or any good band. You can give them a song half raw and they’ll cook it.”

Mick Jagger: “That’s a song Keith and I really wrote together. We were on a holiday in Italy. In this very beautiful hill town, Positano, for a few nights. Why we should write such a dark song in this beautiful, sunny place, I really don’t know. We wrote everything there – the tempo changes, everything. And I’m playing the harmonica in these little cafés, and there’s Keith with the guitar.”

Studio Album Version

Midnight Rambler

Did you hear about the midnight rambler
Everybody got to go
Did you hear about the midnight rambler
The one that shut the kitchen door
He don’t give a hoot of warning
Wrapped up in a black cat cloak
He don’t go in the light of the morning
He split the time the cock’rel crows

Talkin’ about the midnight gambler
The one you never seen before
Talkin’ about the midnight gambler
Did you see him jump the garden wall
Sighin’ down the wind so sadly
Listen and you’ll hear him moan
Talkin’ about the midnight gambler
Everybody got to go

Did you hear about the midnight rambler
Well, honey, it’s no rock ‘n’ roll show
Well, I’m talkin’ about the midnight gambler
Yeah, everybody got to go

Well did ya hear about the midnight gambler?
Well honey its no rock-in’ roll show
Well I’m talking about the midnight gambler
The one you never seen before

Oh don’t do that, oh don’t do that, oh don’t do that
Don’t you do that, don’t you do that (repeat)
Oh don’t do that, oh don’t do that

Well you heard about the Boston…
It’s not one of those
Well, talkin’ ’bout the midnight… sh…
The one that closed the bedroom door
I’m called the hit-and-run raper in anger
The knife-sharpened tippie-toe…
Or just the shoot ’em dead, brainbell jangler
You know, the one you never seen before

So if you ever meet the midnight rambler
Coming down your marble hall
Well he’s pouncing like proud black panther
Well, you can say I, I told you so
Well, don’t you listen for the midnight rambler
Play it easy, as you go
I’m gonna smash down all your plate glass windows
Put a fist, put a fist through your steel-plated door

Did you hear about the midnight rambler
He’ll leave his footprints up and down your hall
And did you hear about the midnight gambler
And did you see me make my midnight call

And if you ever catch the midnight rambler
I’ll steal your mistress from under your nose
I’ll go easy with your cold fanged anger
I’ll stick my knife right down your throat, baby
And it hurts!


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

47 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Midnight Rambler”

  1. I always liked the movie of The Boston Strangler and so I read all the books and followed the case for years every time they had new evidence or new theories and stuff. The very last news I saw about it was that one of the victims’ sons who had the case reopened, because he had doubts about Albert Desalvo being the only killer, admitting that the latest DNA test convinces him that Desalvo was the one that killed his mother and all the other ones. And he considers the case closed now and stuff. But who knows. It’s been going on for so long now that it’s probably still not over. It’s so fascinating though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is fascinating. I read up on it when I wrote this post back in July or so. I’ve seen docs about many others but not the Boston Strangler.


      1. The Boston Strangler was the first split-screen movie I ever saw, and I just like the whole movie really and Tony Curtis was so great in it. Now I feel like watching it again

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s not very accurate or realistic or anything, but just really interesting nevertheless. It’s like one of those old-style Hollywood true story movies.


      1. Absolutely I’ve read In Cold Blood. A couple times. It’s also one of my favorite movies. And it’s a much better movie than Boston Strangler.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I read it within the last year and was totally bowled over by how good it was. Not sure I’ve seen the original movie (wasn’t Robert Blake in it?) but I did see the more recent one, “Infamous” (2006) with Daniel Craig as Perry, and thought that was very well-done.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah Robert Blake and Scott Wilson. If you’ve read the book you won’t be surprised by anything in the movie cuz it’s real faithful to the book.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Not that crazy about the song, but interesting to learn who it’s about. In the first video, the audience is really packed into that venue. About Mick and Keith, it makes sense that two lead guitarists are going to have a richer sound than just one. Speaking of two lead guitarist bands, I was listening to Graham’s spotify playlist of his favorite Television (band) songs and loved it so much that I was reading a little about them last night and learned that they coordinated-meshed their playing in a most excellent way. I was trying to figure out what it was about their music that makes them sound so good and that is it to a large extent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry it took me so long to reply….we moved things today until 4pm…and I missed a lot of comments in between moving things.

      Oh Ronnie Wood took Mick Taylor’s place….I like Ronnie’s guitar but he doesn’t use a Gibson like Taylor did and that is where that fat sound came from….
      Oh I really like that Television post of Grahams…I only posted that one song but he did MANY by them that I love. I plan to post more. I don’t know if you saw my comment to Graham…its the sound they got that I love…the songs are great but that sound plays a part as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah! Sorry, Max. I know you’re running ragged. I thought it was a competition between Taylor and Keith, but you were talking about Taylor and Wood as his replacement.

        About Television, no I didn’t see your comment to Graham afaik. I seriously want to get a couple of their albums. My library doesn’t have them so I will to break down and buy them lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No need to apologize. I shouldn’t have commented on some and just leave lol.

        I was talking to Graham about how they recorded and he left some links in the post…I’ve checked them out…I not only like their songs but their sound as well. I’m going to cover another song by them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. this one didn’t come up in my ‘reader’ feed for some reason today. Anyway, a good-sounding song, though I never really listened to the lyrics or knew its background before (as you say, it isn’t played into the ground by radio)… kind of creepy. But a pretty good example of dark blues rock from that period. Never knew anything about the Boston Strangler but have watched a couple of movies and docs on the Zodiac killer, that one is sort of fascinating though it’s getting so far along from when it happened I doubt they’ll ever get a definitive answer to who he was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dave…I republished it. Yea I know many of the other ones…Bundy and The Green River Killer but I didn’t know about him. One year Jagger is satan and the next he is the Boston Strangler.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. To me this was all too obviously about the Boston Strangler, but then when the song came out it was not old news, it was still relatively gruesomely fresh. Sadly, now the case wouldn’t break out of the Boston Globe’s ‘local news’ section. Good song, sick inspiration, but Jagger was playing devils advocate at the time.


  5. Not one of my fave Stones pieces but, it’s OK. I haven’t heard it in a while.

    I bit the big cookie and I’m back blogging. I am now the owner/operator of a Business Plan. Eh. What the hell. What is $300 a year. I can handle that and get my plug-ins. I got a $120 credit so…off I go until Sept. 2023.

    I had to laugh when the plan offer stated that “Pro” was no longer available, unless you continue to renew. Uh, no. Thank you. Your “Pro” plan SUCKS!

    Getting ready to do a new post. Hopefully, you will get notified.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool Vic! I’ll be looking out for it. You have gone in! I thought about the Business plan only for the plugins but I decided nah…not right now. Tell me how it is though.


      1. I also opened up a YouTube account. It is really easy to embed YT vids and if I post something controversial, I will use Rumble, even tho they don’t show up in the WP phone app. They do show up in the Reader (browser). I haven’t tested if uploading a video and using WPVideo will work. “Pro” certainly fouled that up.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a great vibe to this tune. I’m not big on long drawn out Jam tunes but this one breaks the mold. Love Watts shuffle on the drums and Keef and Taylor laying down some great axe work along with Mick and the harp…
    All time classic

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Taylor…as much as I love Keith….and I do…Taylor’s sound was the key to this era of the band. When he left he took that sound with him.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That is one of the reasons I like it so much….I haven’t been beat over the head with it. I like that sound that Mick Taylor got out of his Gibson…that big fat sound.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great tune. And I’m also 100% with you regarding “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out.” One of the best live albums, as far as I’m concerned. The Stones rarely sounded as good. Mick Taylor definitely upped their sound. I really love the version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” on that album. Listening to it as I’m writing this clever comment. This is it, pure rock & roll!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you say that LOL… you know that list with my favorite Stones albums? Guess which favorite song I pull off of this one? Yep Jumping Jack Flash
      When we play that song…this is the version we copy from

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it is their greatest to me. I also like Still Life but because it reminds me of that time….this one is the best hands down.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That sounds really clear and good. They have those songs down….I would still rather hear Keith sing backup than the pro singers but you can’t have everything.


      1. Yes…I usually mention him but I didn’t this time. He was involved in that 5 album stretch. They were never the same again when he left after Goat’s Head Soup.

        Liked by 2 people

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