Under My Thumb
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|"Under My Thumb"|
Japanese single cover
|Single by The Rolling Stones|
|from the album Aftermath|
|B-side||"I Just Want to Make Love to You"|
|Released||15 April 1966|
|Recorded||March 6–9, 1966|
|Label||Decca (album only)/London|
|Producer(s)||Andrew Loog Oldham|
"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.
"Under My Thumb" was featured prominently by the band on their 1981 USA 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.
The song appears on the soundtrack to the film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Lyrics and music
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".
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), 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.
- Mick Jagger - Vocals, Handclaps
- Keith Richards - Electric Guitar
- Brian Jones - Acoustic guitar, Marimba
- Bill Wyman - Bass guitar, fuzz bass
- Charlie Watts - Drums
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.
A number of artists have recorded cover versions of the song. Covers include 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.
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. 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".
- Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones – The Guardian – September 6, 2009
- The Rolling Stone Interview. Rolling Stone. Accessed April 2, 2007.
- Under My Thumb Time is On Our Side
- Paglia, Camille. (1992) Sex, Art and American Culture: New Essays, New York, Vintage, 1992, ISBN 978-0-679-74101-5
- "Grammy 2009 Winners List". MTV. February 8, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2012.