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Rolling Stones songs: Lady Jane
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Your servant am I/ And will humbly remain…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: RCA Studios, Hollywood, USA, March 6-9 1966
Guest musicians: Jack Nitzsche (harpsichord)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This might be about Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII. She was one of the few wives not executed, but died at childbirth while bearing his only son. Another possibility is that it’s about Jane Ormsby-Gore, a British woman Mick Jagger was involved with.
This song was rumored to be about drugs, with “Lady Anne” code for amphetamine and “Lady Jane” a reference to marijuana (as in “Mary Jane”)
Brian Jones, who was The Stones guitarist until his death in 1969, played the dulcimer, an instrument you play on your lap by plucking or strumming the strings. Jones could learn just about any instrument very quickly. He had just recently learned how to play it when they recorded this.
Keith Richards explained: “Brian was getting into dulcimer then because he dug Richard Farina. We were also listening to a lot of Appalachian music then too. To me, Lady Jane is very Elizabethan. There are a few places in England where people still speak that way, Chaucer English.”
Mick Jagger said: “‘Lady Jane’ is a complete sort of very weird song. I don’t really know what that’s all about myself. All the names are historical but it was really unconscious that they should fit together from the same period.”
Jack Nitzsche played the harpsichord, which gave this song an Elizabethan feel. Nitzsche was a prolific keyboard player and producer. He died in 2000 at 63.
This was left off the US version of Aftermath. It was on the Flowers compilation.
Chip Monck, who handled lighting and production duties for the Stones in the late ’60s and early ’70s, often played an instrumental version of this song over the sound system after the band left the stage. He said it was “like a madrigal, really. Have a good evening, get home safely, we look forward to seeing you the next time around.”
This was the basis for the Neil Young song “Borrowed Tune,” which appears on his Tonight’s The Night album. He sings the lyric, “I’m singin’ this borrowed tune I took from the Rolling Stones.”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
The identity of the heroine of “Lady Jane” has given rise to much
speculation. For some, she is Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry
VIII of England, who died twelve days after giving birth to the future
Edward VI. According to this version, the song was inspired by a letter
addressed by Henry VIII to Jane in which he assures her of his love and
reveals his decision not to delay in executing of his second wife, Anne
Boleyn, by decapitation. For others, the song is about Jane Ormsby-Gore,
the daughter of David Ormsby-Gore (the fifth Baron Harlech) and, most
importantly, the emblematic designer of Swinging London, with whom the
Stones’ singer had an affair. Or again, perhaps the name of the heroine
should be seen as another example of the licentious double entendre of
which the singer of the Rolling Stones was so fond: this song was written
by Mick Jagger at the beginning of 1966, after he had read Lady
Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence, in which the sex organs of the
woman are christened… Lady Jane.
Nothing can be less certain, of course. During an interview with
Jonathan Cott, Mick Jagger confided: “‘Lady Jane’ is a complete sort of
very weird song. I don’t really know what that’s all about myself. All the
names are historical but it was really unconscious that they should fit
together from the same period.” For Keith Richards, the ballad presents an
image of the England of times gone by: “To me, ‘Lady Jane’ is very
Elizabethan. There are a few places in England where people still speak that
way, Chaucer English.”
If “Lady Jane” reveals a new facet of Mick Jagger as a writer, the
medieval, or Baroque, atmosphere of the number owes a great deal to the
talent of Brian Jones, and more specifically to his subtle performance on the
dulcimer. “Brian was getting into dulcimer then, because he dug Richard
Farina,” explains Keith Richards. “It has to do with what you listen to. Like
I’ll just listen to old blues cats for months and not want to hear anything
else, and then I just want to hear what’s happening and collect it all and
listen to it. We were also listening to a lot of Appalachian music then
“Lady Jane” was released as a single in the United States (as the B-side
of “Mother’s Little Helper”) on July 2, 1966. It reached number 24 on the
Billboard chart on August 13.
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?