Rolling Stones songs: Ruby Tuesday
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There’s no time to lose, I heard her say/ Catch your dreams before they slip away…
Also known as: Title 8
Written by: Jagger, Richard
Recorded: Olympic Sound Studios, London, Nov. 16-Dec. 6 1966
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
The fourth US #1 hit for the Rolling Stones, this ballad is about a groupie. It may have been inspired by Linda Keith, who was Keith Richards’ girlfriend. Richards said in the book According to the Rolling Stones: “It was probably written about Linda Keith not being there (laughs). I don’t know, she had pissed off somewhere. It was very mournful, very, VERY Ruby Tuesday and it was a Tuesday.”
Keith Richards said of “Ruby Tuesday”: “That’s one of those things – some chick you’ve broken up with. And all you’ve got left is the piano and the guitar and a pair of panties. And it’s goodbye you know. And so it just comes out of that. And after that you just build on it. It’s one of those songs that are easiest to write because you’re really right there and you really sort of mean it. And for a songwriter, hey break his heart and he’ll come up with a good song.”
Brian Jones played the recorder (it sounds like a flute) on this song. He was a founding member of the group and fancied himself their leader, which along with a debilitating drug habit, starting causing problems in the band around this time. He was booted from the group in June 1969, and found dead in his swimming pool less than a month later.
“Ruby Tuesday” is one of several early Rolling Stones songs that show his musical ingenuity. He was the group’s lead guitarist, but could play just about any instrument. One of his most famous performances is on sitar for “Paint It Black.”
Keith Richards wrote most of this song with contributions from Brian Jones, but in keeping with Stones tradition, it was credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
When the group was working on this song, they referred to it as “Title B.”
A large double-bass was used. Bill Wyman plucked the notes while Richards played it with a bow.
This was left off the UK version of Between The Buttons because it was already released as a single there, where it was customary not to put singles on albums.
This was supposed to be the B-side of “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” but many radio stations shied away from that one due to the sexual implications, so they played “Ruby Tuesday” instead, helping make it a hit.
Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995: “‘Ruby Tuesday’ is good. I think that’s a wonderful song. It’s just a nice melody, really. And a lovely lyric. Neither of which I wrote, but I always enjoy singing it.”
The singer Melanie, who had a #1 hit with “Brand New Key” in 1971, released a cover of “Ruby Tuesday” in 1970 that went to #9 in the UK and #52 in the US. Rod Stewart also released a popular cover that was accompanied by a video. His version made #11 in the UK in 1993.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
Brian Jones is supposed to have had a hand in “Ruby Tuesday,” which was
destined to become one of the Stones most celebrated ballads. This, at least,
is what Marianne Faithfull claims in her autobiography.
She recalls Brian playing a folk ballad that immediately caught Keith’s attention:
“‘Yeah, nice, man,’ said Keith and went over to the piano to bang it out. Brian
was beaming. ‘It’s a cross between Thomas Dowland’s Air on the Late Lord
Essex and a Skip James blues, actually.’ Keith was not interested in Lord
Essex or Skip James for that matter. He had heard a riff and went at it like a
dog with a bone. For ages ‘Ruby Tuesday’ had no lyrics… It was Brian and
Keith’s song.” It is certainly true that Mick Jagger played no part in the
writing of the song: “It’s just a nice melody, really. And a lovely lyric.
Neither of which I wrote, but I always enjoy singing it.” Some time later,
Keith shaped the song on the piano of his apartment in St. Johns Wood and
also wrote the words, which speak very clearly of disappointment in love—
his own after Linda Keith left him for a “so-called” poet. Of Bill Chenail,
Keith writes: “He was a hip little bugger at the time because he came on
with the Dylanesque bit. Couldn’t play anything. Ersatz hip, as it’s called.”
He adds, “That’s the first time I felt the deep cut.”
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