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Rolling Stones songs: Sittin’ on a Fence
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All of my friends at school grew up and settled down/ And they mortgaged up their lives…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: RCA Studios, Hollywood, USA, Dec. 3-8 1965
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
The song was given to the singing duo Twice as Much, who released it as their debut single in May 1966. This version became a Top 40 hit on the UK Singles Chart, and also received some attention in the United States, where it charted on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
The Rolling Stones’ version was recorded in December 1965 during the Aftermath sessions, and released first in the United States on the 1967 album Flowers. The song was released in Great Britain in 1969 on the greatest hits album Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2). The group did not release it as a single.
It is included on the 1972 compilation More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies), but as with so much Stones material from 1967, the band has never performed “Sittin’ on a Fence” live. Towards the end of the acoustically driven song, a harpsichord, played by Brian Jones, can be heard.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
Sitting on the fence, in other words being indecisive, is the precise situation
in which the main character in this song has found himself ever since
childhood. He finds it impossible to know wrong from right, to such an
extent in fact that he feels very different from his former schoolmates, who
grew up and settled down—although he does question their true motivation:
might they not have gotten married simply because they had nothing better
to do? And of course the narrator does not neglect to take a sideswipe at
women: But there is one thing I could never understand/Some of the sick
things that a girl does to a man. One of the distinctive characteristics of the
Rolling Stones in the second half of the sixties, and of the Jagger-Richards
duo in particular, was to come up with lyrics of utter darkness, of absolute
nihilism, set to superb, often melancholy tunes. “Sittin’ on a Fence” is one
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