Lock up your daughters, the headlines screamed. It’s The Rolling Stones! And with a discordant, clanging intro – an intro that strongly hints at this being a band about to get up to no good – here they are.
It’s All Over Now, by The Rolling Stones (their 1st of eight #1s)
1 week, from 16th – 23rd July 1964
Once the intro is out of the way, the song settles down into a jaunty, chugging rhythm. There’s a natty little bassline and jazzy drum-fills. In my previous post I billboarded this as Pt. II of the Great British Blues Invasion, following on from ‘The House of The Rising Sun’. But ‘It’s All Over Now’ sounds a little lightweight compared to The Animals’ record – a song that could have rattled the gates of hell. Anything would feel lightweight after that, to be fair.
Well baby used to stay out, All night long, She made me cry, She done me wrong… Lyrically this #1 follows a well-trodden path – the brave-face-on-a-break-up theme we’ve heard in discs like ‘That’ll Be the Day’, ‘Who’s Sorry Now’ and ‘Needles and Pins’ to name but a few. Except this is The Stones, authors of feminist anthems like ‘Heart of Stone’ and ‘Under My Thumb’, and so the barbs are aimed a little lower and hit a little harder than those fired by, say, The Searchers.
Well, She used to run around, With every man in town, Spending all my money… At this point we arrive at a momentous occasion in our countdown – the first genuine swear word!… Playing her half-assed game. (I know it’s nothing shocking in this day and age, but I bet the BBC weren’t playing it at the time.) She put me out, It was a pity how I cried, Tables turn and now, Her turn to cry…
It’s a slightly sloppily written song: note the ‘cried’ being rhymed with ‘cry’, while the line about ‘every man in town’ is also recycled in the final verse. It wasn’t originally a Stones song either, as it had been released, in the US at least, in a much more soulful, funkier version by Bobby Womack & The Valentinos. In this sense, then, it is a Stones song – the ominous, passive-aggressive, arrogance of this version is all them. It’s a song with swagger. The Stones were here, with added swearing and no time for heartache.
We reach the solo – a manic, disjointed effort from Brian Jones which I don’t think would win any technical awards but which sums up the early-Stones perfectly. This and the solo from Elvis’s ‘Devil in Disguise’ were the two solos I wanted to learn guitar in order to play, aged sixteen. (I still haven’t got round to it…) Mick Jagger squawks and squeals in the background, in a manner we just haven’t heard over the past hundred and seventy two #1s. Then we fade to black with the same clanging chords from the intro, but only after Jagger has promised that he won’t be taken for that same old clown. Because he used to love her; but it’s all over now.
There we have it. Two debut number ones. Both of which managed only a solitary week at the top of the UK singles charts; but both of which changed the direction of British pop as we know it. The bad boys were on top! Listen to ‘It’s All Over Now’ and then ‘I Like It’ by Gerry and The Pacemakers and tell me who you think would win in a fight… One thing’s for sure – pop music was evolving at an astonishing rate in the mid-sixties and we can now safely declare that – barely a year after it broke through – Merseybeat is dead, trampled under Jagger, Richards, Jones and co’s wedge-heeled brogues.
Listen to every #1 so far in this handy playlist: