Rolling Stones songs: She’s So Cold
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
Who would believe you were a beauty indeed/ When the days get shorter and the nights get long…
Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas, Jan. 18-Feb. 12 1979
Guest musicians: Bobby Keys (sax)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
Rock and roll is filled with songs about cold, heartless women – “Cold As Ice” by Foreigner and “Stone Cold” by Rainbow, for example. Mick Jagger decided the Rolling Stones should have one of their own, so he and Keith Richards came up with “She’s So Cold.”
Jagger wrote the lyric in about an hour, going way over the top, as he was wont to do for entertainment value. The girl is cold, but he’s so hot for her. He’s the burning bush… the burning fire… the bleeding volcano! On the other hand, she’s so cold that when he touches her, his hand freezes.
At the end of the song, Jagger reminds her that her beauty will fade and there will come a day when she’ll be not just cold, but alone.
The American rocker Willie Nile released a song with a similar sentiment called “She’s So Cold” in 1980 before The Stones issued theirs. Nile had been performing the song since 1978, and Mick Jagger was aware of it. A reporter for the British magazine The Face had the brio to ask him outright if he stole the song from Nile. Jagger replied: “I know Willie Nile, he’s a right little stirrer. He’s a sort of Latin kind of singer — no it’s not true, he’d be suing me if it was.”
In a Songfacts interview with Nile, he explained what happened when The Rolling Stones’ song was released. “I wake up, my phone is ringing off the hook,” he said. “DJs calling, what’s my reaction to the Stones having a song called ‘She’s So Cold’ that sounds similar to my song ‘She’s So Cold’?”
Nile was approached about filing a lawsuit, but never considered it. “No way am I going to be in that category of suing the Stones. Forget it! I loved the Stones. If it influenced their song, fine.”
The first single from the Emotional Rescue album was the title track, which Mick Jagger sings in falsetto over a groove with disco elements. It did well on the charts, but many fans were hungry for a swarthy rocker, which they delivered with the second single, “She’s So Cold.”
Instead of touring for the album per custom, they decided to break the album-tour-album-tour cycle by starting right away on their next album, Tattoo You, then launching a tour after that was released in 1981. Unlike “Emotional Rescue,” “She’s So Cold” was in the setlist for that tour and became one of the most enduring Rolling Stones songs, with a place on Classic Rock playlists for many years.
The video was directed by David Mallet, one of the first film-makers to transition to music videos. Mallet did some high-concept videos like David Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes” and Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers,” but this one was a hit-and-run, showing the Stones performing the song on a soundstage set up to look like a grid, with the band hamming it up throughout. It was very effective and proved popular on MTV when the network launched in 1981. Keeping the band front and center in their videos helped introduced them to the MTV audience of American teenagers that only knew them from their parents’ record collection.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
She’s so cold… The narrator is burning with love for his girlfriend, to the
point of likening himself to a bleeding volcano. But there is nothing doing.
The young woman is cold in the extreme, indeed as glacial as a tombstone.
Is there some hidden meaning behind this song written by Mick Jagger (in
an hour, it has been said)? Probably not. “She’s So Cold” was chosen as the
A-side of the second single from Emotional Rescue (with “Send It to Me”
on the flip side). It only made it to number 26 in the United States and
number 33 in the United Kingdom.
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