Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones song that Mick Jagger feels was misunderstood

During a 1978 interview, The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was quizzed about the bipolar nature of his many songs that portray female characters. The interviewer told Jagger that he sometimes portrayed his women as “mystical” and, at other times, “stupid”.

“There are two different types of girls in my songs: there’s the beautiful dreamy type and the vicious b**** type,” Jagger responded during the interview with Rolling Stone. “There are also one or two others, but, yeah, you’re right — there are two kinds of girls … only I never thought about it before.”

The interviewer then observed that The Rolling Stones didn’t have many songs where the subject was both “dreamy” and “vicious” at the same time. “Ah, I see, I’m not integrating them properly,” Jagger replied. “Maybe not.”

After a pause for thought, Jagger offered that the song ‘Beast of Burden’, from the album Some Girls, was perhaps a rare example of an integrated track. “Maybe ‘Beast of Burden’ is integrated slightly: I don’t want a beast of burden, I don’t want the kind of woman who’s going to drudge for me,” he said. “The song says: I don’t need a beast of burden, and I’m not going to be your beast of burden, either.”

Later, still discussing the Some Girls track, Jagger seemed a little perturbed, explaining that he felt his lyrics could sometimes be misunderstood. Regarding the lyrics, “I’ll never be your beast of burden,” Jagger said: “Any woman can see that that’s like my saying that I don’t want a woman to be on her knees for me,” he opined. “I mean, I get accused of being very antigirl, right?”

Jagger blamed the listener for not paying due attention to the lyrics of ‘Beast of Burden’. “But people really don’t listen, they get it all wrong; they hear ‘Beast of Burden’ and say ‘Argggh!’” Jagger explained, implying that people misinterpret the song and therefore find it offensive as a number that lashes out at an unfavourable stereotype of women.

Listen to The Rolling Stones’ ‘Beast of Burden’ from their 1978 disco-rock album, Some Girls, below.

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