(Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)
which didn’t come out as a single release, first gained public
awareness when it was included in The Rolling Stones’ Aftermath. Despite the fact that it didn’t
appear as a 45, it became a staple by the band and gained a lot of
popularity when it was performed at concerts, and appeared on later
The lyrics that were written by Mick Jagger
deal with how the worm turns when a man turns the tables on an
over-dominant woman and takes over the control of the relationship, much to
his pleasure. Needless to say
these lyrics caused controversy with the some of women who were supporting
the feminist movement of the time.
In fact Camille Paglia, who describes
herself as a “dissident feminist” found her self under fire
from radical feminists when she gave positive comments about the song. It has been indicated that Jagger’s girlfriend of the time, Chrissie Shrimpton, was used as an influence. Mick Jagger
later said in an interview in 1995 “It’s a bit of a jokey number really” and after stating it
wasn’t really an anti-feminist song added “Yes, it’s a
caricature, and it’s in reply to a girl who is a very pushy
The music is different to some of the other Rolling
Stones tracks from previous albums as it includes Brian Jones on the
marimba, Bill Wyman performing “fuzz bass lines” and Charlie
Watts giving a much funkier performance than normal on the drums.
The popularity of it in concert performances of the song
heightened since it was made the opener for the band in US and European
tours in 1981 and 1982 and it has since been performed during tours in the
1990s and 2000s. The abiding
memory of this song in concert, however, was when it was being performed at
the Altamont Free Concert in 1969 at the time that Meredith Hunter and the
security guards, who were members of the Hells Angels, got into a
fight. Hunter pulled out a gun
after he had been punched which resulted in him being stabbed to death.
From the 1960s onwards many acts have recorded their own
versions of the song. In 1966
it was recorded by Del Shannon and later appeared on his anniversary
compilation in 1972. It was
also recorded in 1966 by Wayne Gibson who re-released iti
n 1974 and achieved a UK Top 20 hit. In 1967 it was recorded by The Who in
an attempt to help bail Mick Jagger and Keith
Richards out of prison after they had been arrested for drug related
charges. It didn’t turn
out as planned though as the single came out after the pair had been
released. In 1969 the group
performed it in Hyde Park.
Into the next decade and Tina Turner included it on her Acid Queen in 1975 and it was also
covered by Pentagram. 1976 saw
it being covered by Truth and Janey and in 1979
it became Streetheart’s biggest hit when it
made an entry into the Top 40 on their native Canadian chart. Also in 1979 it was recorded by Chicago’s
The Hounds as an album track.
In the 1980s it was covered by Social Distortion who
re-recorded it in 1990s, followed by a girl group for Fast Radio in
1983. In 1981 it appeared on
the Boomtown Rats’ Mondo Bongo
after Bob Geldof had re-written the lyrics and
renamed the song “Under Their Thumb….Under My Thumb”.
Still appearing in the 1990s it appeared in 1994 when
Michael Hutchence performed it for inclusion on Symphonic Music of the Rolling Stones.
In the new millennium the melody was used by Chile’s
Los Miserables when they recorded their own
Spanish version called “Bajo Este Sol” that has different lyrics from the original. Terence Trent D’Arby
included it on his 2006 compilation album and the band Ministry and Burton
C. Bell were nominated for a Best Metal Performance Grammy Award with their
cover version in 2008. Also in
2008 it appeared as an instrumental on a Rolling Stones cover album by
Pascal Comelade. In 2010 it was recorded live and
in the studio by La Roux.
Several other versions have been performed live and in
the studio to date and it is likely that there will be many more to come.