rolling stones jumpin' jack flashCan You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: Jumpin’ Jack Flash
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I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead/ I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: RG Jones Studio, Morden, Surrey, England, March 1-14 1968 and Olympic Sound Studio, London, England, March 23-29 1968
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From Songfacts:
Who is “Jack Flash”? His name is Jack Dyer, and he was Keith Richards’ gardener. Richards explained to Rolling Stone in 2010: “The lyrics came from a gray dawn at Redlands. Mick and I had been up all night, it was raining outside, and there was the sound of these boots near the window, belonging to my gardener, Jack Dyer. It woke Mick up. He said, ‘What’s that?’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s Jack. That’s jumping Jack.’ I started to work around the phrase on the guitar, which was in open tuning, singing the phrase ‘Jumping Jack.’ Mick said, ‘Flash,’ and suddenly we had this phrase with a great rhythm and ring to it.”

Bill Wyman wrote some of this song, but it was still credited only to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, which Wyman was never happy about. He explained: “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? And then the next day we recorded it. Mick wrote great lyrics to it and it turned out to be a really good single.”

Mick Jagger said this song is about “having a hard time and getting out. Just a metaphor for getting out of all the acid things.”

As Richards explained in Rolling Stone, he’s very proud of his guitar part in this song. “When you get a riff like ‘Flash,’ you get a great feeling of elation, a wicked glee,” he said. “I can hear the whole band take off behind me every time I play ‘Flash’ – there’s this extra sort of turbo overdrive. You jump on the riff and it plays you. Levitation is probably the closest analogy to what I feel.”

A promotional film, which was an early music video, was shot with The Stones performing this wearing body paint and outrageous costumes. The paint and costumes would become a trend in the ’70s with bands like Kiss.

“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” marked a transition to guitar rock for the Rolling Stones. Early on, they were more of a blues band, which reflected the influence of founding member Brian Jones. The went psychedelic on their previous album, Her Satanic Majesties Request, but by 1968 Jones was less a factor in the band and the group shed his influence. In 1969, they fired Jones, who was found dead in his swimming pool less than a month later. With Mick Jagger and Keith Richards firmly in charge, they became lavishly successful with stadium rockers like “Brown Sugar” and “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll.”

“The Stones became the guitar band we know today once Brian left the band,” says Danny Garcia, director of the documentary Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones. “During the ’60s the band evolved from an R&B band to a pop band to a psychedelic band until they found their sound with ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ in ’68.”

In the US, this was a hit for Aretha Franklin in 1986. Her version was produced by Keith Richards, who also played guitar. It hit #21.

The title was used for the name of a Whoopi Goldberg movie in 1986. Aretha Franklin’s version was used in the film.

This was intended for Beggar’s Banquet, but they left it off the album and released it as a single because The Stones were very pleased with the results.

This was rumored to be about drugs – a “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is supposedly a way to inject heroin into the tear ducts. It was also thought to be about speed, the same pills that were mother’s little helpers.

Speaking about his guitar work on this track, Keith Richards explained: “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.”

Don McLean referenced this in “American Pie” with the words “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack Flash sat on a candlestick, ‘Cause fire is the Devil’s only friend.” The “Devil” was rumored to be Mick Jagger.

This plays in the 1973 movie Mean Streets when Robert De Niro’s character shows up. Director Martin Scorsese played the song from his original album to give it more of a raw sound.

In 2004, Chevy used this in a commercial for their Corvette, but the ads were quickly pulled over objections from viewers. The ad showed a young kid driving the car in a very dangerous manner. It was meant to portray the kid dreaming about the car, but a lot of people didn’t see it that way.

This song was used as the finale in the rhythm-action game Elite Beat Agents for the Nintendo DS. It is the second half of a two-part scenario, the first half being “Without a Fight.” In the scenario, evil aliens known as the Rhombulans invade Earth and ban music, and the game’s characters band together to summon the Elite Beat Agents. In “Without a Fight,” the Elite Beat Agents help to free the prisoners in the Rhombulans’ concentration camp (while simultaneously making music to injure the Rhombulan guards), then dash into the path of a gigantic laser beam to save the newly-freed prisoners.

This results in the EBA being turned to stone, but the game’s characters chant out “EBA” repeatedly while clapping in unison. As “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” begins, the stone EBA statues crack, allowing the EBA to break free. They then proceed to sing and dance, leading Earth’s populace into a high-school-prom-like celebration. At the end of the song (“Jumpin Jack Flash is a gas”), the agents and the people harness the power of music to fire a huge laser at the Rhombulan lead UFO, utterly destroying it and saving the planet.

This is the most-performed song by the Rolling Stones. The band have played this during every tour since its release in 1968.

In his autobiography, Life (2010), Keith Richards wrote about the mysterious power of this song: “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.”

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
In Life, Keith Richards looks back at the genesis of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”: “The lyrics came from a gray dawn at Redlands. Mick and I had been up all night, it was raining outside and there was the sound of these heavy stomping rubber boots near the window, belonging to my gardener, Jack Dyer.… It woke Mick up. He said, ‘What’s that?’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s Jack. That’s jumping Jack.’… Mick said, ‘Flash,’ and suddenly we had this phrase with a great rhythm and ring to it. So we got to work on it and wrote it.”
The main character in the song may have been inspired by Keith’s gardener, but the adventures he recounts during the three and a half minutes or so are the fruits of a simultaneously fertile and feverish imagination that was also most likely feeding on distant memories either lived or heard. I was born in a crossfire hurricane, sings Mick in the intro. Is this a reference
to the bombing of London during the Second World War? What can be said for sure is that the narrator is deeply traumatized and prey to contradictory feelings that may have damaged his mind. He claims to have been raised by a toothless, bearded hag and schooled with a strap right across my back, then drowned, washed up, and left for dead, before being crowned with a
spike right through my head
. In short, his life has been a torment, but this does not prevent the Christlike (?) figure from displaying a furious optimism in the surging refrain: But it’s all right, I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash, it’s a gas, gas, gas.
After two flower-power-tinged albums, were the Stones taking a step back with this number and heralding the end of a dream? The character of Jumpin’ Jack Flash seems totally alien to the countercultural world. On the contrary, this figure scarred forever by his past displays a frenzied individualism that verges on masochism. In 1995, Mick would explain in an
interview that this text was all about “having a hard time and getting out. Just a metaphor for getting out of all the acid things.” By implication the period of Their Satanic Majesties Request

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