Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Song for Leap Day: "Jumpin’ Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones
I can think of no better way to celebrate February 29th, aka Leap Day, than with the greatest leap-related song of all time, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by The Rolling Stones. It has to be one of the most inexhaustible songs ever written - I’ve literally heard it thousands of times and it still makes me leap about on every listen.
It's appropriate that Mick Jagger wears warpaint in the video below, as the tune has a tribal quality that makes it connect with the listener on the most primal of levels.
Recorded in 1967, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was the tune that took the Stones out of their bummer LSD phase (which nonetheless produced trippy gems including "Ruby Tuesday" and "She's a Rainbow") and took them back into balls to the wall rock & roll. The tune also kicked off the band's partnership with producer Jimmy Miller, which would spawn four consecutive masterpieces: Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St.
As Keith recalled in his book Life, the "Jumpin'" Jack in question was a cat named not Flash but Dyer:
Mick and I had been up all night, it was raining outside and there was the sound of these heavy stomping rubber boots near the window, belonging to my gardener, Jack Dyer, a real country man from Sussex. It woke Mick up. He said, "What's that?" I said, "Oh that's Jack. That's jumping Jack." I started to work around the phrase on the guitar, which was in open tuning, singing the phrase "Jumping Jack." Mick said "Flash," and suddenly we had this phrase with a great rhythm and ring to it. So we got to work on it and wrote it.
Not only was "JJF" one of their best singles ever, it also had one of their best B-sides: "Child of the Moon," a Beatlesque farewell to their psychedelic phase.
The video was pretty Beatlesque as well — a typically shameless ripoff of the Fab's innovative promo film for "Strawberry Fields Forever." It's all there, the trees, the dilated pupils, the capes, the whole magilla.
But the Stones were always smart enough and talented enough to steal from the best and make it their own, whether it was The Beatles, The Kinks, Chuck Berry or Son House.
Happy Leap Day from Rock Turtleneck to you - hope it's a gas, gas, gas.
For more amazing Stones singles like "Jumpin' Jack Flash"/ "Child of the Moon, "get The Singles Collection: The London Years on iTunes here.