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Rolling Stones songs: The Spider and the Fly

Sit up, fed up, low down, go round/ Down to the bar at the place I’m at…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: RCA Studios, Hollywood, USA, May 12-13 1965
Guest musicians: Jack Nitzsche (keyboards and percussion)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From Songfacts:
The Stones recorded this at Chess studios in Chicago during their first US tour. Many American Blues artists who The Stones admired recorded there.

This is about the pursuit of women on the road. Mick Jagger is the spider and the fly is the girl who gets caught in his web.

The Stones redid this for their 1995 compilation Stripped. In order to reflect their advancing age, the woman who comes on to Jagger in the song was changed from 30 to 50 years old.

In the UK, this was released as the B-side of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
Mick Jagger (1995): “I really wasn’t mad about it, but when you listen to it on record, it still holds up quite interestingly as a blues song. It’s a Jimmy Reed blues with British pop-group words, which is an interesting combination: a song somewhat stuck in a time warp.”

From the Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
The nineteenth-century British poet Mary Howitt is known primarily as the author of the fable “The Spider and the Fly,” published in 1829. In it she tells of the misfortunes of a fly who is seduced by the flatteries of a deceitful, manipulative spider. Were Mick Jagger and Keith Richards inspired by this dark story? Indirectly, no doubt. From a musical point of view, “The Spider and the Fly” is a twelve-bar blues very much in the Chess tradition. Interviewed by Rolling Stone in 1995, Mick Jagger explains: “It’s a Jimmy Reed blues with British popgroup words, which is an interesting combination: a song somewhat stuck in a time warp.”

The sound of the “The Spider and the Fly” resembles the Chess sound to such an extent that it could well have been recorded at the legendary studios. Furthermore, Bill Wyman, in his book Rolling with the Stones, dates the recording to May 10, when the Stones were indeed working under Ron Malo’s supervision. But Dave Hassinger was also capable of such an achievement, and a degree of doubt is therefore permissible. Keith and Brian open the number with a very good intro in which their two guitars interweave and enter into a dialogue with one another. Keith then takes up the lead, most likely on his Gibson Les Paul, and Brian launches into the rhythm part, presumably on his Vox “Teardrop.” In addition to delivering a fine vocal performance, Mick also plays harmonica. Here, the Stones demonstrate once again their perfect mastery of the genre.