By reputation alone, ‘Under My Thumb’ is one of the more controversial songs in The Rolling Stones’ discography. Mind you, this is the same discography which features songs that allegedly appealed to Satanism, songs that toed the line of good taste by incorporating sex with slaves, and songs that openly used the N-word. The Stones’ best albums can also be a minefield when held up to today’s politics (or even the politics of the time), but another track from the mid-1960s, ‘Stupid Girl’, was one of the more direct shots that the band ever took.
With its less-than charitable view towards some of the groupies and hangers-on that were floating around the Stones’ entourage at the time, ‘Stupid Girl’ was as direct an attack on women as the Stones ever wrote. With lines like “The way she talks about someone else / That she don’t even know herself / She’s the sickest thing in this world / Well look at that stupid girl,” the song quickly got paired up with ‘Under My Thumb’ when analysing the band’s views towards the women around them.
Mick Jagger went so far as to call ‘Stupid Girl’ worse than ‘Under My Thumb’ in terms of message. “Yeah, it’s much nastier than ‘Under My Thumb’,” Jagger conceded to Rolling Stone in 1995. “Obviously, I was having a bit of trouble. I wasn’t in a good relationship. Or I was in too many bad relationships. I had so many girlfriends at that point. None of them seemed to care they weren’t pleasing me very much. I was obviously in with the wrong group.”
According to Keith Richards, the song was more of a reflection of both the times and the places that the Stones found themselves in when their bad-boy image became intertwined with the relatively inoffensive pop of the day. “It was all a spin-off from our environment… hotels, and too many dumb chicks,” Richards told Rolling Stone in 1971. “Not all dumb, not by any means, but that’s how one got. When you’re canned up – half the time it’s impossible to go out – it was to go through a whole sort of football match.”
‘Stupid Girl’ wasn’t as much of a sticking point for the Stones as ‘Under My Thumb’ was, largely due to the fact that ‘Under My Thumb’ was a hit single while ‘Stupid Girl’ was a B-side to ‘Paint It Black’, along with its appearance on the 1966 LP Aftermath. While it’s hard to claim that the Stones’ assessment of women drastically improved over the years, they quickly moved away from the name-calling and immaturity that was represented so heavily in songs like ‘Stupid Girl’.
Check out the original version of ‘Stupid Girl’ down below.