Under My Thumb

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: March 1966        Recording location: RCA Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Producer: Andrew Oldham        Engineer: Dave Hassinger
Performed onstage: 1966-67, 1969, 1981-82, 1997-98, 2006

Probable line-up:

Drums: Charlie Watts
Bass: Bill Wyman
Acoustic guitar: Keith Richards
Electric guitar: Keith Richards
Vocal: Mick Jagger
Marimbas: Brian Jones
Piano: Ian Stewart
Handclaps: ---
 

Under my thumb the girl who once had me down
Under my thumb the girl who once pushed me around

It's down to me
The difference in the clothes she wears

Down to me, the change has come
She's under my thumb


Ain't it the truth, baby?

Under my thumb's a squirming dog who's just had her day
Under my thumb a girl who has just changed her ways

It's down to me, yes it is
The way she does just what she's told

Down to me, the change has come
She's under my thumb


Say it's all right

Under my thumb's a siamese cat of a girl
Under my thumb, she's the sweetest pet in the world

It's down to me 
The way she talks when she's spoken to

Down to me, the change has come
She's under my thumb


Take it easy, baby, yeah

It's down to me, oh yeah
The way she talks when she's spoken to

Down to me, the change has come
She's under my thumb


Yeah, it feels all right

Under my thumb, her eyes are just kept to herself

Under my thumb, well I, I can still look at someone else

It's down to me, oh that's what I said
The way she talks when she's spoken to

Down to me, the change has come
She's under my thumb


Say it's all right

Say it's all right

Say it's all right

Take it easy, baby
Take it easy, baby
It feels all right
Take it, take it easy, baby
 
 

TrackTalk

It's (Brian) on marimbas on Under My Thumb...

- Keith Richards, 1971


(Brian) was still fantastic making records, because he was so versatile. I mean, he'd have marimbas - which is why you have marimbas on Under My Thumb - or dulcimer, sitar. He kind of lost interest in guitar, in a way. But at the same time he added all of that other color, those other instruments and other ideas. He was an incredibly inventive musician.

- Keith Richards, 1994


It's got Brian playing these marimbas. That riff played on marimbas really makes it. Plus, the groove it gets in the end of the tune. It speeds up, actually. And it becomes this kind of groove tune at the end. It was never a single, but it was always a very well-known album track. And then it became a thing feminists fastened on... It's a bit of a jokey number, really. It's not really an anti-feminist song any more than any of the others... (I)t's a caricature, and it's in reply to a girl who was a very pushy woman.

- Mick Jagger, 1995


REALLY? They really do? Ha ha ha. It's great to actually have done that, isn't it? Without realising it, right? Well, (those songs) were really nave - and TRUE. You know? I don't think there was anything wrong with them. But when I say it, it doesn't seem to come out right. But those songs really were TRUE... See, what happens is that you say something and they think it applies to ALL women... But if you listen to the lyrics closely - not TOO closely - under my thumb, a girl who ONCE had ME down - you see? It's not so unfair? Why should it apply to every girl? But I think it was really true. It's funny to think about it, it was very adolescent, those songs, about adolescent experiences. There aren't any of those kind of songs, unfortunately, on (Black and Blue). We have to come up with a good one. Soon.

- Mick Jagger, 1976, on being told some women
bristle when they hear Under My Thumb


That's going back to my teenage years! At the time there was no feminist criticism because there was no such thing, and one just wrote what one felt. Not that I let it hinder me too much now... (The squirming dog image) was a joke. I've never felt in that position vis--vis a person - I'd never want to really hurt someone.

- Mick Jagger, 1978


There was one song that was particularly chosen as an anti-women thing, which was Under My Thumb. And actually Under My Thumb - how does it go... (sings) Under my thumb, there's a girl who once had ME down. So the whole idea was that she - that I was under HER, she was kicking ME around. So the whole idea is absurd, all I did was turn the tables around. So women took that to be... against femininity where in reality it was... trying to "get back", you know, against being a "repressed male". (Pause) This was a long time ago (laughs).

- Mick Jagger, 1984



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