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Music

The Rolling Stones song inspired by punk, Bianca Jagger and The White House

@notmyyaztattoo

Right about now you might be thinking to yourself, “What?” And you likely aren’t alone. The Rolling Stones clearly take their inspiration from a variety of places, gardeners, grass and everything in between and have worked together to create some of their most beloved songs.

Self-described as a “punk meets Chuck Berry number,” The Rolling Stones’ song ‘Respectable’, which came off their 1978 album Some Girls takes inspiration from a few different places, including Bianca Jagger, The White House, and the self-addressed punk roots themselves.

The track focuses on the duality of their widespread acceptance as rock and roll greats, specifically, on how high society once rejected the band, but soon held open the doors of their country clubs for Jagger, Richards and their millions. Mick Jagger said of the song, “I was banging out three chords incredibly loud on the electric guitar, which isn’t always a wonderful idea but was great fun here. This is a punk meets Chuck Berry number. The lyric carries no fantastically deep message, but I think it might have had something to do with Bianca.”

The lyrics “She’s so respectable/ Get out of my life/ Don’t take my wife,” certainly point in that direction, in addition to the lyrics that reference Mick Jagger’s then-wife Bianca visiting the White House to meet President Ford’s son. The lyrics also go off, “You don’t worry about the things that you used to be/ You’re a rag-trade girl, you’re the queen of porn/ You’re the easiest lay on the White House lawn.”

Touching on the lyrics, Mick Jagger has also said, “‘Respectable’ really started off as a song in my head about how respectable we as a band were supposed to have become, ‘We’re so respectable’. As I went along with the singing, I just made things up and fit things in. Now we’re respected in society… I really meant [the band]. My wife’s a very honest person, and the song’s not about her… It’s very rock & roll. It’s not like Bob Dylan’s ‘Sara’. ‘Respectable’ is very lighthearted when you hear it. That’s why I don’t like divorcing the lyrics from the music. ‘Cause when you actually hear it sung, it’s not what it is, it’s the way we do it.” 

Of course, a song finding inspiration somewhere doesn’t mean it’s directly written about the person or events in question. It’s a balance, much like the balance he talks about between the lyrics and the music. 

If you want to check out the punk-meets-Chuck-Berry track with a smattering of inspirations, you can listen to The Rolling Stones’ track, ‘Respectable’ down below.