Honky Tonk Women

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
First release: single, July 1969
Recording date: March & May-June 1969       Recording location: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
Producer: Jimmy Miller        Chief engineer: Glyn Johns
Performed onstage: 1969-73, 1975-78, 1981-82, 1989-90, 1994-95, 1997-99, 2002-03, 2005-07, 2012-19, 2021

Probable line-up:

Drums: Charlie Watts
Bass: Bill Wyman
Rhythm electric guitar: Keith Richards
Lead electric guitars: Keith Richards (incl. solo) & Mick Taylor
Lead vocals: Mick Jagger
Background vocals: Keith Richards, Reparata & The DelronsNanette NewmanDoris Troy
Piano: Ian Stewart
Cowbell: Jimmy Miller
Saxophones: Steve GregoryBud Beadle

I met a gin-soaked, barroom queen in Memphis
She tried to take me upstairs for a ride
She had to heave me right across her shoulder
Cause I just can't seem to drink you off my mind

It's the honky tonk women
Gimme, gimme, gimme the honky tonk blues

I laid a divorcťe in New York City
I had to put up some kind of a fight
The lady then she covered me in roses
She blew my nose and then she blew my mind - yeah

It's the honky tonk women
Gimme, gimme, gimme the honky tonk blues

Yeah, all right

It's the honky tonk, honky tonk women
Gimme, gimme, gimme the honky tonk blues
It's the honky tonk, honky tonk women
Gimme, gimme, gimme the honky tonk blues


I know what we did do in South America. Went to a ranch and wrote Honky Tonk Women because it was into a cowboy thing. All these spades are fantastic cowboys. Beautiful ponies and quarter horses. Miles from anywhere. Just like being in Arizona or something.

- Keith Richards, 1971

Mick and I were sitting on the porch of this ranch house and I started to play, basically fooling around with an old Hank Williams idea, you know.

- Keith Richards, 2003

Keith and I were on this holiday in Brazil once and we sang it all the way through the holiday.

- Mick Jagger, 2003

Honky Tonk Women is another (example of a song where the music and words came together). A lot of times you're fooling with what you consider to be just working titles or even working hooks, and then you realize there's nothing else that's going to slip in there and fit in the same way. So you're left with this fairly inane phrase (laughs).

- Keith Richards, 1983

I wrote Honky Tonk Women as a straight Hank Williams-Jimmie Rodgers sort of number. Later, when we were fooling around with it trying to make it sound funkier, we hit on the sound we had on the single. We all thought, Wow, this has got to be a hit single. And it was, and it did fantastically well. It's the sort of song that transcends all tastes.

- Keith Richards, 1969

(Ry Cooder) was around at the time... I think that's where Keith learned the guitar tuning for Honky Tonk Women. It's open-G tuning...

- Mick Taylor, 1979

The guitar is in open tuning on that. I learned that particular tuning (G) off Ry Cooder.

- Keith Richards, 1979

Jimmy Miller played the cowbell and I joined in.

- Charlie Watts, 1998

We've never played an intro to Honky Tonk Women live the way it is on the record. That's Jimmy playing the cowbell and either he comes in wrong or I come in wrong - but Keith comes in right, which makes the whole thing right. It's one of those things that musicologists could sit around analyzing for years. It's actually a mistake, but from my point of view, it works.

- Charlie Watts, 2003

The intro to Honky Tonk Women was like, if you wrote musically that down and played it properly, it wouldn't have the same thing as the actual take does. But that's what's good about being in a band like this, there's room for things like that.

- Charlie Watts, 2003

And I mean I remember the looks in the studio as we were cutting the track - Don't fuck it up now, boy, this is it. (Laughs) You know, I mean, the track was rocking.

- Keith Richards, 2003

It was a great amp on that... I really can't honestly say what it was, but the guitar was probably a Telecaster, maybe a Les Paul Jr.

- Keith Richards, 1989

I definitely added something to Honky Tonk Women, but it was more or less complete by the time I arrived and did my overdubs. They had already laid down the backing track, but it was very rough and incomplete. I added some guitars to it, but I didn't play the riffs that start it - that's Keith playing. I played the country kind of influence on the rock licks between the verses.

- Mick Taylor, 1979

Nice to know that people really like the Stones' music - NOW! There have been other number ones - but at this time it has special significance.

- Mick Jagger, July 1969

Brown Sugar was a good single, but the best single we did in a long time was Honky Tonk Women. That's one that I really knew when it came on, because a lot of people dug it, they just couldn't stop moving. And that's what it is - just instant move your arse.

- Charlie Watts, 1973

Honky Tonk can be a bastard to play, man. When itís right, itís really right. Thereís something about the starkness of the beginning you really have to have down, and the tempo has to be just right. Itís a challenge, but I love it.

- Keith Richards, 2019

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