Monday, May 19, 2008

She's a Rainbow

Their Satanic Majesties Request
Track 6
"She's a Rainbow" – 4:35

An actual pop song, in form if not performance. "Rainbow" is probably the most enduring legacy of Satanic Majesties by virtue of Nicky Hopkins music box high-note piano obbligato, which plays elaborate variations of the catchy melody throughout. Somewhat amusing is listening to Mick strain to match the leaps in pitch demanded by that melody – he does a pretty good job even though this is clearly not his strength as a vocalist. Based on that, and the rumours that Mick and Keith routinely denied songwriting credits to collaborators, I'm going to put forward the thesis that Hopkins was responsible for composing the melody.

And her face is like a sail
Speck of white so fair and pale
Have you seen a lady fairer?
Mick occasionally went to these "Lady Jane" types of lyrics, which are so utterly at odds with the upfront misogyny displayed previously on songs like "Stupid Girl" and "Under My Thumb" (much less the songs still to come, like "Starfucker" and everything related to Some Girls) that one wonders where they came from.

I mean, it's pretty easy to picture a Mick Jagger writing something like "Starfucker", but I'm having trouble with the image of Mick composing lyrics dedicating his love to a fair maiden who lives in yon castle. My theory: these kinds of things are buried deep within the collective consciousness of the British people, and that anyone raised within that culture is potentially capable – given the proper circumstances – of attempting to write a poem to Fair Mary of Wallington. We can only thank god that it doesn't happen more often.

A song this catchy demands to be covered, but the internet reveals that surprisingly few artists have been up to the challenge. In the mid 90s I remember seeing the Canadian indie band cub perform the song in Vancouver (I think, or maybe it was Montréal) – wikipedia tells me they released it as a single. Nena (of "Luftballons" fame) released a pretty decent version last year: