Play with Fire (The Rolling Stones song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Play with Fire"
RollStones-Single1965 TheLastTime.jpg
Single cover
Single B-side to "The Last Time" by The Rolling Stones
Released 26 February 1965 (UK)
13 March 1965 (US)
Recorded January–February 1965
Genre Baroque pop
Length 2:14
Label Decca F12104 (UK)
London 45-LON 9741 (US)
Writer Nanker Phelge
Producer Andrew Loog Oldham

"Play with Fire" is a song by English rock and roll band The Rolling Stones, originally released as B-side to the song "The Last Time". It was later included on the American release of their 1965 album Out of Our Heads.


"Play with Fire" is credited to Nanker Phelge, a pseudonym used when tracks were composed by the entire band, even though lead singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards are the only Rolling Stones to appear on the track. The song was recorded late one night in January 1965 while the Stones were in Los Angeles recording with Phil Spector at the RCA Studios. Richards performed the song's acoustic guitar opening while Jagger handled vocals and tambourine (enhanced using an echo chamber). Spector played bass (actually a tuned-down electric guitar), and Jack Nitzsche provided the song's distinctive harpsichord arrangement and tamtams. The Stones left for a tour of Australia the following day.[1]

The song's lyrics talk of the singer's relationship with a high society girl, disparaging the lifestyle much in the same way that "19th Nervous Breakdown" would in a more up-tempo feel. The title refers to the idiom "If you play with fire, you get burned".

In a 1995 interview with Jann Wenner for Rolling Stone, titled "Jagger Remembers", Jagger said, ""Play with Fire" sounds amazing—when I heard it last. I mean, it's a very in-your-face kind of sound and very clearly done. You can hear all the vocal stuff on it. And I'm playing the tambourines, the vocal line. You know, it's very pretty."[2] An unreleased version of the song, entitled "Mess with Fire", was also recorded. It featured a much more upbeat, soul-oriented feel.[3]

"Play with Fire" went to No. 96 on the US chart. It was also featured on the US version of Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) (1966), Hot Rocks (1971) and Singles Collection: The London Years.

The song was performed in concert during the Rolling Stones' tours of 1965 and 1966, and was revived on their 1989-1990 Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour.

An extended live version can be found on the 1974 release Live 'n' Kickin' by West, Bruce and Laing.

"Play with Fire" was featured in the 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited, directed by Wes Anderson; it also appears on the soundtrack album.

In July 2008, "Play with Fire" became the subject of a lawsuit when ABKCO Music Inc., which owns the rights to the Rolling Stones' early catalogue, filed a suit against Lil Wayne, asserting that the rapper's song "Playing With Fire" is based on the Rolling Stones' song.[4]

In 2010, Didi Benami covered "Play with Fire" in American Idol: Season 9.

In May 2011, "Play with Fire" was featured prominently in the season 6 finale of the show Supernatural.


"Play With Fire" has been cited as the first song the supergroup West, Bruce and Laing played together upon their formation in 1972.[5] The band regularly played the song live – a rendition of it appears on West, Bruce and Laing's 1974 album Live 'n' Kickin' – and also included a thinly veiled rewrite of the song (with new lyrics) as "Love is Worth the Blues" on their first album Why Dontcha (1972).

Ruth Copeland covered the song on her 1971 album I Am What I Am.

In 1980, The Fleshtones released a version of the song on their EP Up-Front.

Dick Taylor, an early bass guitarist for the Stones, covered "Play with Fire" as a member of The Pretty Things on their 1999 album, Rage...Before Beauty.

Gov't Mule covered "Play with Fire" in a reggae style on their 2007 album Mighty High and directly reference the Rolling Stones 1965 version in the intro.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band covered the song on their 1996 album "Soft Vengeance" (track 2).

Cobra Verde's cover of "Play with Fire" was featured on the HBO series 'True Blood' and appears on the shows' CD;[6] it also appears on their "Copycat Killers" album.[7]

"Play with Fire" was covered by Dum Dum Girls in 2009 as a B-Side to the Jail La La single and as a Japanese bonus track for their debut album I Will Be.

Tír na nÓg conceived an acoustic folk version of the song with a guitar/violin arrangement that they played live on their 2010 album Live at Sirius.

American singer-songwriter Chris Pureka covered the song on her 2013 EP Chimera II.

The song is playable in the music video game Rocksmith.


  1. ^ "Play With Fire". Time Is On Our Side. 2007 (accessed 8 May 2007).
  2. ^ "Jagger Remembers". Rolling Stone. 14 December 1995 (accessed 7 July 2010).
  3. ^ Unterberger, Richie "Play With Fire". allmusic. 2007 (accessed 8 May 2007).
  4. ^ Honan, Edith (24 July 2008). "Lil Wayne Sued Over Stones Song". Reuters UK. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  5. ^ Shapiro, Harry (2010). Jack Bruce: Composing Himself – The Authorised Biography, Jawbone, ISBN 978-1-906002-26-8, p. 153.
  6. ^ Cobra Verde. "Cobra Verde". Cobra Verde Website. Cobra Verde. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  7. ^ Amazon. "Cobra Verde's "Copycat Killers"". Amazon Website. Amazon. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 

External links[edit]