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Rolling Stones songs: Play with Fire
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
Your mother she’s an heiress, owns a block in Saint John’s Wood/ And your father’d be there with her/ If he only could…
Also known as: MESS WITH FIRE
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: De Lane Lea Studios, Kingsway, London, England, Jan. 11-12 and 17-18 1965; RCA Studios, Hollywood, USA, Feb. 18 1965
Guest musicians: Jack Nitzsche (harpsichord), Phil Spector (bass)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This started out as an up-tempo song called “A Mess Of Fire.” It’s a “don’t mess with me” song, with Mick Jagger addressing a well-heeled woman to let her know he’s not intimidated by her riches.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the only Stones to play on this. The other Stones went to sleep after a long session while producer Phil Spector filled in on bass and his assistant, Jack Nitzsche, played harpsichord. They left to tour Australia the next day.
Nitzsche was a prolific producer who also scored many movies, including The Exorcist and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. He died in 2000 at age 63.
Mick Jagger (1995): “It’s a very in-your-face kind of sound and very clearly done. You can hear all the vocal stuff on it. And I’m playing the tambourine, the vocal line. You know, it’s very pretty. Keith and me (wrote that). I mean, it just came out. It was just kind of rich girls’ families – society as you saw it. It’s painted in this naive way in these songs. I don’t know if it was daring. It just hadn’t been done.”
A janitor at the studio sang backup. At the end of an all-night session Jagger and Richards were the only Stones still awake, and they were desperate for another voice.
This was released as the B-side of “The Last Time,” and does not appear on the English version of Out Of Our Heads. In England it was customary to not include single releases on albums.
This was featured in the 2007 movie The Darjeeling Limited. It’s a rare instance of an entire song being used in a film.
Ron Wood, who joined the band on guitar in 1975, loves this song and lobbied to get it in their setlists. He got his wish when the band started playing it on their 2018 tour for the first time since their 1989 Steel Wheels tour (Ref. play with fire)
From the Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
Who is this young woman with her diamonds and pretty clothes, the daughter of an heiress who owns a block in Saint John’s Wood but who gets her kicks in the poor district of Stepney? No one knows, but there is no doubt that the members of the Rolling Stones encountered characters like this in the fashionable London clubs they frequented. Was Mick Jagger writing about a three-way relationship, that is to say a man having an affair with a daughter and her mother? “Ah, the imagination of teenagers!” replied Jagger when asked this question by Rolling Stone magazine in 1968. Either way, the Stones’ singer provides a very good description in this song of the classless society that London seemed to have become in the midsixties
that owed nothing to lineage and everything to talent. (Ref. play with fire)
Categories: Can You Hear the Music?