The Story Behind The Song: The Rolling Stones track ‘She’s A Rainbow’, a technicolour dream amid band nightmares
The Rolling Stones song ‘She’s A Rainbow’ was met with a mixed reaction when it was first released back in 1967 but, as the years have gone by, the track has quite rightly grown in appreciation. Now, the track is firmly seen as a highlight from the psychedelically twinged Their Satanic Majesties Request.
Remarkably, John Paul Jones, who would of course later go on to conquer the world with Led Zeppelin, arranged the strings of this song during his days as a session musician. The backing vocals were a joint effort by the entire band apart from Charlie Watts who had managed to escape his duties.
In truth, the whole recording process for the record was a giant mess. Their legal ongoings at the time were causing issues after the infamous Redlands bust that saw Mick Jagger and Keith Richards spend time behind bars immediately after the time they began recording.
This meant that it took the band over eight months in total to record the album as the legal problems coupled up with their newfound adoration for psychedelic drugs created a recipe for professional disaster that somehow created incredible art.
In his 2002 book Rolling with the Stones, Wyman describes the situations in the studio: “Every day at the studio it was a lottery as to who would turn up and what – if any – positive contribution they would make when they did,” he said. “Keith would arrive with anywhere up to ten people, Brian with another half-a-dozen and it was the same for Mick. They were assorted girlfriends and friends. I hated it! Then again, so did Andrew (Oldham) and just gave up on it. There were times when I wish I could have done, too.”
“Sometimes I think it was a miracle that we produced anything with all the emotional upheavals within the group,” Wyman also noted.
The late Anita Pallenberg was rumoured to be the muse for the track, with a 2020 biography by Simon Wells on the late model even being titled She’s A Rainbow. Pallenberg had just come out of a relationship with Brian Jones in 1967 after he was physically abusive to her in Morrocco, Keith Richards saw the violence and took her back safely to England with the two falling instantly in love with one another — even going on to have three children together.
The trippy sounding track isn’t a sound that one would associate with The Stones outside of Their Satanic Majesties Requestbut ‘She’s A Rainbow’ has become a true cult classic with their ardent fans as the years have passed. It took 30 years before they took to performing it at a touring show and then, following that run of dates, it was yet again put back on the shelf until 2016 with it now finally being a deserved regular in their sets.