The Rolling Stones ‎– Under My Thumb

London Records ‎– TOP-1243
Vinyl, 7", 45 RPM, Single


A Under My Thumb 3:43
B I Just Want To Make Love To You 2:17


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April 2, 2017
edited about 1 year ago

Penned for their 1966 release of the sensational album Aftermath, and cited as one of the top 100 songs of all time, “Under My Thumb” has been misrepresented and maligned nearly since it was released.

First, here are the facts of the song: At the time, Mick Jagger was deeply involved with Chrissie Shrimpton, who was the inspiration for the song. This is also the song that the Rolling Stones were playing at the Altamont Speedway concert in 1969 when the Hells Angels murdered Meredith Hunter [though many are under the misconception that “Sympathy For The Devil” was being played] … but I digress. During the late 60’s and early 70’s, and rightly so, feminism was on the rise, with women demanding to be treated with equality and not to be seen as sexual objects. Though it does seem to me, as a woman, that many of my sisters do dress rather sexy, and what is a man supposed to think, standing there in a suit and tie, while a female business counterpart is in high heals, a short skirt and blouse open to expose just enough breast to make things more than interesting. If a man walked into an office with some sort of codpiece that accented and drew attention to his genitalia, he would be sent home posthaste. But let’s face it, sadly, even in 2016, fifty years after this song was first heard on the radio, it’s still a man’s world, and men prefer to see women as sexual objects.

As to the song: The song is not about dominating women, though one would hardly believe that The Rolling Stones did not think that way with the misogynist advertisements used to promote their album Black and Blue. Nevertheless, we live in a world where people hurt each other both physically and emotionally for a variety of reasons, and it’s an aspect of our human nature that we should endeavor to stop. To quote Mike Jagger from an interview in 1984, he said, “The whole idea was that I was under her thumb [of Chrissie Shrimpton], she was kicking me around. So the whole idea is absurd [regarding feminists assertions], all I did was to turn the tables around. So women took that to imply that I was against femininity [feminism], when in reality it was all about trying to ‘get back’ against being an repressed male.” And yes, both the concept and construct of the song’s lyrics are sound, though both men and women are free to make choices about being oppressed or not, especially men, and should certainly step out of an un-welcomed or uncomfortable situation without attempting to put the other person in the submissive role.

As to the song itself: “Under My Thumb” is musically flawless, and one of those few numbers where the song’s hooks are played on a marimba. The number is filled with the dynamic sexual tension of a power struggle, making it a fine example of how to intelligently and musically combine arpeggios with chords interwoven with verse. The song contains exceptional hypnotic bass lines that are blissfully fuzzed out, along with a guitar structure that drives the song along at a restrained jangling pace.

It’s just a wonderful piece of timeless work with a theme that has been used again and again in literature, theater, and movies.