100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs
"Under My Thumb" (1966)
Recorded in March 1966, "Under My Thumb" is best known for its lyrics, which came off like a misogynist screed, describing an aggressive woman subordinated into one who "talks when she's spoken to," and is alternately described as a "squirmin' dog," a "Siamese cat" and "the sweetest pet." Yet the music itself is supremely cool and seductive, defined by Jones' beguiling marimba and Richards' understated guitar, which add a vaguely swishy softness that undercuts Jagger's bravado. Jagger later said his lyrics were an honest reflection of "too many bad relationships" he was going through at the time. The song is like a Motown number that wound up at the dark end of the street, and indeed, a cloud seemed to follow it throughout the Sixties. Covered by the Who in solidarity when the Stones stood trial on drug charges in 1967, it was the soundtrack to the death of Meredith Hunter at Altamont two years later. Yet in terms of songcraft, it remains among their most undeniable moments.
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