205. ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’, by The Rolling Stones

Barging Ken Dodd out of the way, snapping one of his tickling sticks and giving him the finger… It’s The Rolling Stones!

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Get Off Of My Cloud, by The Rolling Stones (their 5th of eight #1s)

3 weeks, from 4th – 25th November 1965

They’re still angry, still dissatisfied with modern life, with complaining neighbours and, once again, detergent. What did Mick and Keith have against detergent…? Like ‘Satisfaction’, which was at #1 just six weeks before this, ‘Get Off of My Cloud’ tells an anti-hero’s story in three verses, against a frantic drumbeat and another scuzzily insistent riff.

It’s clearly another response to their new-found fame, their new-found position as The Beatles’ one true rivals to the throne. But all they want to do is be left alone. In each verse, Mick tries to escape the world around him: I sit at home looking out the window, Imagining the world has stopped… and I was sick and tired of this, Decided to take a drive downtown… It’s a response to, and another symptom of, their fame. This was a #1 in both the UK and the US, as well as Canada and Germany, and no other band could have taken a record as raw and aggressive as this to the top of the charts around the world.

It’s also a very hard song to sing. There are several points where I have no idea what is being sung, Charlie Watt’s drums and the guitars being so prominent in the mix, with Jagger’s vocals submerged under them. My favourite bit is when he almost starts rapping the phone-call from his neighbour, asking him and his friends to shut up because it’s 3 a.m. The telephone is ringing I say ‘Hi, it’s me, who’s there on the line? A voice says ‘Hi, hello, how are you?’ Well I guess I’m doin’ fine…

In the end, though, he finds some solace. He takes a drive downtown, where it’s nice and peaceful, and falls asleep. Whether or not he’s under the influence of something isn’t established… He wakes up to parking tickets, but I don’t think he cares – he’s Mick Jagger and he’s rich as piss. How the tickets look like flags, I don’t know. And I have no idea who the guy dressed up like a Union Jack is meant to be.

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It’s a weird song. A scrappy, messy, glorious song. Apparently Keith Richards doesn’t look back on it too fondly, what with it being rushed out in order to capitalise on ‘Satisfaction’s success. And yes, the sound is a bit off, and the mix a bit bass heavy, and the lyrics pretty much cover the same ground as ‘Satisfaction’, but that’s part of this record’s charm. It really does sound like it was recorded in a garage, in one take, and while the sound is far removed from their bluesy roots, this is in keeping with The Stones as a rough and ready rock ‘n’ roll band.

But if that doesn’t convince you, at least you can’t deny the hook. Hey! – hey – You! – you – Get off of my cloud! Who hasn’t wanted to yell that at someone who’s been bringing them down, when you just want a bit of peace and quiet. Don’t hang around cos two’s a crowd…

Looking back at The Stones three #1s from this year, we have three masterpieces of attitude and anger. Gone are the blues covers, in comes ‘The Last Time’ with its disparaging swagger, ‘Satisfaction’ with that riff and it’s dissatisfaction with fame and modern living, and now this… more dissatisfaction with fame, modern living and the whole bloody world. And, taking these three discs and standing them side by side next to The Beatles three 1965 chart-toppers – ‘Ticket to Ride’, ‘Help!’ and ‘Day Tripper’, which is coming up in a couple of posts time… I’m going to go out on a limb and say The Stones’ output – solely talking about the chart-toppers, here – was, for the moment, trumping the Fab Four’s.

Not that it would last… But that’s a story for another day.

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13 thoughts on “205. ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’, by The Rolling Stones

  1. Help! is the strongest of those six, and The Last Time the weakest – by some distance. The other four? – probably not that much between them. I think The Fabs just about edge it. IMO of course.

    1. It’s very very close. I know that Get Off Of My Cloud is basically Satisfaction MKII, but there’s something so alive and dangerous about The Stones at this point that they get my vote, even if The Beatles are still better ‘musically’

  2. badfinger20

    I like this song…the rawness of it…it’s not Satisfaction but what a time to be a teenager and having all of these songs coming at you.
    Just my opinion but I do consider as a whole the three Beatle songs are a stronger group…the strongest to me is Satisfaction but like thepopman said…The Last Time is the weakest…but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. Daytripper is a riff-driven song like the Stones…whoops…I’ll save that for the time!

    1. Yeah, if ‘The Last Time’ is the weakest of the bunch… Then you’ve got a pretty strong bunch.
      For me, I think it’s the way the Stones were just so raw and angry, and the lyrics were so challenging. It’s pure rock and roll and it’s telling that, like you mentioned, The Beatles were ‘following’ the Stones lead with the Day Tripper riff. Of course, with Revolver, The Beatles would once again take a huge step forward… But that’s all in the future…

      1. badfinger20

        I would agree with that as far as pure rock and roll. The Stones were better at that…it was their specialty…then in the next year it turned around and The Stones actually did some great pop songs. That is on of my favorite Stones period…but like you said…still in the future.

      2. It was such an exciting time in pop music, with the level constantly being raised. If you look just two years back – to the Merseybeat days – it already sounds old-fashioned…

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