Jumpin' Jack Flash

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
First release: single, May 1968
Recording date: April 1968       Recording location: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
Producer: Jimmy Miller           Engineer: Glyn Johns
Performed onstage: 1968-73, 1975-79, 1981-82, 1989-90, 1994-95, 1997-99, 2002-03, 2005-07, 2012-14

Probable line-up:

Drums: Charlie Watts & Keith Richards
Bass: Keith Richards
Distorted acoustic guitars: Keith Richards
Lead vocal: Mick Jagger
Background vocals: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards & Jimmy Miller
Piano: Ian Stewart
Organ: Bill Wyman
Maracas: Mick Jagger
 

Watch it

I was born in a crossfire hurricane

And I howled at my ma in the driving rain

But it's all right now
In fact it's a gas

But it's all right
I'm Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gas

I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag
I was schooled with a strap right across my back

But it's all right now
In fact it's a gas

But it's all right
I'm Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gas

Ooh
 

I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead
I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled
Yeah, yeah, I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was crowned with a spike right through my head
Come on, yeah

But it's all right now
In fact it's a gas

But it's all right
I'm Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gas

Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas

 

 
TrackTalk

Mick and I were in my house (laughs) in England in the country... and we'd been up all night and it was 6:30 in the morning, a dismal day, you know, English, grey. And we were just both crashing, Mick was on the couch and I was in an armchair with a guitar and we were, like, on the verge. And suddenly this sound of these boots (laughs) went by the window, clump clump clump - really, I mean, you had to be there to hear it - and woke Mick up, What was that? And I said - I looked out the window and I thought, Oh, that's Jack, that's jumpin' Jack. You know and then we started to play with those words. But I mean, really, it was sort of virtually woke up out of a stupor by this guy's boots, he was my gardener, he was a great guy but he's another story. And but... I just said, That's Jack. Well he's leaping about a bit. Yeah, I said, it's jumpin' Jack and then flash came and suddenly we were wide awake and we started to work, you know. You never know when they're going to come.
- Keith Richards, 2003


Jumpin' Jack Flash
comes from this guy Jack Dyer, who was my gardener. He'd lived out in the country all his life. I'll put it this way: Jack Dyer, an old English yokel. I once said, Have you ever been to town? And town, to an Englishman, means London, right? And he says, Oh Yeah, I was up there V.E. Day, when the war finished. That cathedral is something. He meant Chichester, the local big town, seven miles away... Mick says, Flash. He'd just woken up. And suddenly we had this wonderful alliterative phrase. So he woke up and we knocked it together.
- Keith Richards, July 1997


And the only guitar in the house was tuned that way. It's really Satisfaction in reverse. Almost an interchangeable riff, except it's played on chords instead of a Gibson Maestro Fuzztone.
- Keith Richards, July 1997


We got to the studio early once and... in fact I think it was a rehearsal studio, I don't think it was a recording studio. And there was just myself, Brian and Charlie - the Stones NEVER arrive at the same time, you know - and Mick and Keith hadn't come. And I was just messing about and I just sat down at the piano and started doing this riff, da-daw, da-da-daw, da-da-daw... and then Brian played a bit of guitar and Charlie was doing a rhythm. We were just messing with it for 20 minutes, just filling in time, and Mick and Keith came in and we stopped and they said, Hey, that sounded really good, carry on, what is it?

- Oh, that was just something we were messing with.
- That sounds good.
And then the next day all I can really remember... we recorded it and Mick wrote great lyrics to it and it turned out to be a really good single.
- Bill Wyman, 1982


There was nothing about love, peace and flowers in Jumpin' Jack Flash.
- Mick Jagger


Jumpin' Jack Flash
was recorded at Olympic; we were doing it deliberately for a single. Keith is playing my floor tom-tom on it to give the boom-da, boom-da sound. Now you'd just program it and loop it or something daft like that. The sound on Jumpin' Jack Flash is very close together, because we do sit close to each other in the studio, much to most engineers' amazement nowadays. Nobody does that any more, really.
- Charlie Watts, 2003


I want the Stones being the Stones and that's what we think Jumpin' Jack Flash is. The Stones really sell sounds. You're in the studios with them and everything seems to be drifting to no purpose and then it all comes together quite suddenly.
- Jimmy Miller, May 1968


Jumpin' Jack Flash
was in open E, and there's a certain ring that you need there. And what's always fascinating about open stringing is you can get these other notes ringing sympathetically, almost like a sitar, in a way. Unexpected notes ring out, and you say, Ah, there's a constant. That one can go all the way through this thing.
- Keith Richards, 1992


(I used a) Gibson Hummingbird (acoustic) tuned to open D, six string. Open D or open E, which is the same thing - same intervals - but it would be slackened down some for D. Then there was a capo on it, to get that really tight sound. And there was another guitar over the top of that, but tuned to Nashville tuning. I learned that from somebody in George Jones' band in San Antonio in (1964)... (The high-strung guitar) was an acoustic, too. Both acoustics were put through a Phillips cassette recorder. Just jam the mic right in the guitar and play it back through an extension speaker.
- Keith Richards, 2002


With Jumpin' Jack Flash and Street Fighting Man I'd discovered a new sound I could get out of an acoustic guitar. That grinding, dirty sound came out of these crummy little motels where the only thing you had to record with was this new invention called the cassette recorder... Playing an acoustic, you'd overload the Philips cassette player to the point of distortion so that when it played back it was effectively an electric guitar...There are no electric instruments on Street Fighting Man at all... All acoustic guitars. Jumpin' Jack Flash the same. I wish I could still do that, but they don't build machines like that anymore.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)


It's funny. Through the years so many people have told me I put the Stones back where they belonged. But I had nothing to do with the fact - they'd already written Jumpin' Jack Flash. They were already quite willing to go back there. I'm sure the chemistry worked. Being a drummer, I was very rhythm-minded.
- Jimmy Miller, 1979


Jumpin' Jack Flash
is the most basic thing we have done this time, although that may or may not be in the album (Beggars Banquet).
- Mick Jagger, June 1968


I shall be pleased if it is a hit, but that applies at any time. I think it is a good record but I'm not going to turn round and say people are out of their skulls if they don't buy it. It has a nice catchy chorus line and it's a good performance number... We've had some lousy records which have gone to Number One, and some funny ones - I think this disc is better than those.
- Mick Jagger, May 1968


(T)he more I hear Jumping Jack the more I realize I was wrong (to think Child of the Moon was the more commercial side). It has that same appeal as Satisfaction and now I'm really getting to love it - it really is a gas, gas, gas!
- Brian Jones, May 1968


It's about having a hard time and getting out. Just a metaphor for getting out of all the acid things.
- Mick Jagger, 1995


I like a lot of Stones songs - I like Jumpin' Jack Flash and Street Fighting Man, all for different reasons.
- Mick Taylor, 2012


I love Satisfaction dearly and everything, but those chords are pretty much a de rigueur course as far as songwriting goes. But Flash is particularly interesting. It's allllll right now. It's almost Arabic or very old, archaic, classical, the chord setups you could only hear in Gregorian chants or something like that. And it's that weird mixture of your actual rock and roll and at the same time this weird echo of very, very ancient music that you don't even know. It's much older than I am, and that's unbelievable! It's like a recall of something, and I don't know where it came from.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)




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