Under My Thumb

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"Under My Thumb"
Under My Thumb cover.jpg
Japanese single cover
Song by The Rolling Stones from the album Aftermath
Released 15 April 1966
Recorded 6–9 March 1966
Genre Rock
Length 3:41
Label Decca
Writer Jagger/Richards
Producer Andrew Loog Oldham
Aftermath track listing

"Under My Thumb" is a song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for The Rolling Stones. Its first appearance was as an album track on 1966's Aftermath. Although it was never released as a single in English-speaking countries, it is one of the band's more popular songs from the period, appearing frequently on best-of compilations. In 1968, it was released as a single in Japan.

It was during a performance of this song at the infamous 1969 Altamont Free Concert that the Hells Angels, who were acting as security for the band, stabbed Meredith Hunter to death. It is a common misconception that Hunter was stabbed while the band was playing "Sympathy for the Devil". The events appear in the Gimme Shelter movie.[1]

"Under My Thumb" was featured prominently by the band on their 1981 US Tour and 1982 European tour as the opening number at each concert. The Stones have played the song sporadically on subsequent tours in 1997–98 and 2006.


Lyrics and music[edit]

The song's lyrics are an examination of a sexual power struggle, in which Jagger's lyrics celebrate the satisfaction of finally having controlled and gained leverage over a previously pushy, dominating woman. Jagger later reflected on the track in a 1995 interview: "It's a bit of a jokey number, really. It's not really an anti-feminist song any more than any of the others... Yes, it's a caricature, and it's in reply to a girl who was a very pushy woman".[2]

For many years starting with the 1981 tour, Jagger changed the references of "girl" in the lyric to "woman".

Like many of the songs from the Aftermath period, "Under My Thumb" uses more novel instrumentation than that featured on previous Stones records, including fuzz bass lines (played by Bill Wyman[3]), and marimba riffs played by Brian Jones, which provide the song's most prominent hook.

The lyrics, which savour the successful 'taming of the shrew' and compare the woman in question to a "pet", a "cat" and a "squirming dog" provoked some negative reactions, especially amongst feminists, who objected to what they took as the suppressive sexual politics of the male narrator. American humanities professor Camille Paglia, for example, reports that her admiration and defence of "Under My Thumb" marked the beginning of a rift between her and the radical feminists of the late 1960s.[4]

Personnel[edit]

Altamont death[edit]

The song was also notable for its (coincidental) connection with the death of Meredith Hunter at the notorious Altamont Free Concert in 1969. The Stones were just finishing up the number when a fight broke out between Hells Angels on the security detail and concert-goers, ultimately culminating in the stabbing of Hunter by Hells Angel Alan Passaro after Hunter pulled out a gun.

Cover versions[edit]

A number of artists have recorded cover versions of the song.

Del Shannon released a version in 1966.

Canadian rock band Streetheart recording a version of "Under My Thumb" in 1979. Streetheart's cover was their biggest hit on the Canadian Top 40 charts.[citation needed]

Blind Faith recorded a live version of this song at their June 7th, 1969, Hyde Park concert.

A version by Wayne Gibson, recorded in 1966, did not make the charts at the time, but later became a favourite on the Northern soul scene. In 1974 it was reissued, and reached No. 17 in the UK.

The Kingsmen released a version on their 1966 album Up And Away.

Tina Turner covered the song for her 1975 album Acid Queen.

Iowan group, Truth and Janey, covered it for their 1976 release, No Rest for the Wicked.[5]

Social Distortion covered "Under My Thumb" on their 1996 album White Light, White Heat, White Trash

Industrial metal band Ministry with Burton C. Bell covered "Under My Thumb" on their 2008 covers album Cover Up, with some minor lyrical changes. This version was nominated for the 51st Grammy Awards for Best Metal Performance.[6] Also the English rock band The Who recorded a bootleg of Under My Thumb released in the 1998 version of the 1974 compilation " Odds and Sods".

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones – The Guardian – September 6, 2009
  2. ^ The Rolling Stone Interview. Rolling Stone. Accessed 2 April 2007.
  3. ^ Under My Thumb Time is On Our Side
  4. ^ Paglia, Camille. (1992) Sex, Art and American Culture: New Essays, New York, Vintage, 1992, ISBN 978-0-679-74101-5
  5. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/r64432
  6. ^ "Grammy 2009 Winners List". MTV. 8 February 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 

External links[edit]