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 gunman 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 success 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 "Siamese 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]


Altamont death[edit]

The song was also notable for being played during the death of Meredith Hunter at the notorious Altamont Free Concert in 1969. The Stones were just finishing up the song 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.


  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. ^ Stuart Maconie (30 September 2014). Cider With Roadies. Ebury Publishing. pp. 70–. ISBN 978-1-4735-0286-4. 
  6. ^ "Wayne Gibson". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  7. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/r64432
  8. ^ "Grammy 2009 Winners List". MTV. 8 February 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  9. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/sidetracked-mw0002021304

External links[edit]