Best Song From The Rolling Stones' Worst Album

For reasons unknown, millions of people keep coming back to "She's a Rainbow," the fascinating musical path that the world's most enduring rock 'n' roll band briefly took...

The Rolling Stones - "She's a Rainbow": everything about the song, history and meaning, recording

This song is not quite like what you expect to hear from a The Rolling StonesThe band became famous for their swaggering blues style and snarling, almost rebellious anthems for their time. Nevertheless, "She's a Rainbow" - This track is really their handiwork: quite tender, floral and almost romantic... Although it is not included in the list of golden Rolling King hits that you should listen to at least once in your life, from time to time it reminds about itself on the big screen and in various thematic ratings. And it can be rightfully called the best among the worst, because it became a true gem in the track list "Their Satanic Majesties Request" - talking about an album that in the humble opinion of most is their worst achievement....

What is so unique about this track, which, it would seem, time has no power over? And what is it about? We offer to figure it out together...

A grim chapter in a great story

One day John Lennon told reporters:

"They do everything we do. Mick is absolutely imitating us, repeating every little thing... And I wish one of you would finally point that out! No need to argue, you already know perfectly well that Their Satanic Majesties Request is Pepper..."

Mick Jagger and John Lennon
Mick Jagger and John Lennon

As you might have guessed, it's about a Rolling Stone album. "Their Satanic Majesties Request"which was released six months after The Beatles' landmark album. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And it's enough to look at the covers of these two records to understand and even accept John's point of view: we see the members of the Stones in ornate colorful costumes - we'd be lying if we said it doesn't resemble the Magnificent Four at all.

Cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles
Cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles

But it's not even about external similarities. If you dig deeper, namely, listen to the content, the predominance of "floral tendencies" in both cases becomes obvious....

Their Satanic Majesties Request (Rolling Stones music album)
Their Satanic Majesties Request (Rolling Stones music album)

Frankly, it's a wonder the Stones were recording anything at all during that period. In 1967, an excessive preoccupation with substances led to the arrest of first Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and then Brian Jones, which meant that it was almost impossible for the band to fully concentrate on recording. Also. there was growing discord between the members and their longtime manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham, who didn't like the strange musical path Jagger and Richards were taking. The band ended up producing the album themselves, which meant there was no one around to control their whims and nudge them in the right direction...

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones

It just so happens that "She's a Rainbow" was. first songIt was recorded for the album, which meant that it was released before the big fuss about the new record started. Perhaps for this reason this track still carries weight and stands out favorably against the rest of the tracks from this, let's say, not the most successful release?

The magic of the keyboard

Unlike The Beatles, who handed over keyboard duties to Paul McCartney, John Lennon or even producer George Martin when needed, the Stones usually went outside the band's lineup. When they needed to piano or other keyboard instrument, they invited cooperation Ian Stewartwho was also the band's tour manager, or Billy Preston... But in the case of "She's a Rainbow", they used the real secret weapon.

Master of Keyboarding Nicky Hopkins was always their secret trump card. Famous Stones tracks such as "Angie" and "Waiting on a Friend" were recorded with his participation... Only he was able to reveal the power and splendor of such a complex instrument as the piano. At that time Nicky was in demand as a session keyboardist, while continuing to record his own material.

Nicky Hopkins
Nicky Hopkins

Hopkins' work on "She's a Rainbow" was majestic as he single-handedly created the colors to which the lyrics themselves relate. Add to the song the pause-and-start episodes masterfully handled by Charlie Watts, and quirky touches such as Brian Jones' harmonium playing, the intermittent cello, and the children's backing vocals, and you have one of the quirkiest songs in the catalog of the Beatles' snarling competitors!

Lyrical meaning and success

What is the meaning behind this song, which has a rather interesting title "She's a rainbow."? With "Their Satanic Majesties Request", in their darkest and most challenging period, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards created a true love song, one of the few in the band's history!

"It comes in colors - everywhere -
When she brushes her hair,
She's like a rainbow:
Appears - and there are colors in the air -

It is difficult to say for sure whether this image refers to something real, tangible... But everything in this song is imbued with warmth and coziness, tenderness and true love... Perhaps, the influence of the song has had its effect hippie era? We think so.

Despite its experimental nature and the fact that it was recorded under rather unusual conditions, "She's a Rainbow" reached number 25 in the US, which at the time was a modest hit by the Stones' standards. But years later, the composition has not disappeared: it continues to be appear in movies ("American Horror Story" and "Ted Lasso"), and some young artists are presenting their own interpretations of it to the public.

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones

As for the Stones, they realized that their bread was best buttered with the blues-rock they knew best. A year later, they'd release their hit "Jumpin' Jack Flash"and regain their rebellious reputation and well-deserved chart topping position. And yet - for reasons unknown - millions of people keep coming back to "She's a Rainbow," a fascinating musical path that the world's most enduring rock 'n' roll band briefly traveled.


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