It's fun to remember the Rolling Stones as the original bad boys of rock 'n' roll; the guys who had to change their "raunchy" lyrics to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and engaged in more acts of depravity and excess than any other band in musical history. Listen to "Stray Cat Blues" or bootlegs of "Cocksucker Blues" and that caricature fits.
Drive through any suburb, though, and you get reminded of a different side of the Stones. Despite Andrew Loog Oldham's penchant for steering the band in commercial directions, it's hard to believe he let the Stones record "Ruby Tuesday" without it first being a hit for some kinder, gentler band. You don't have to scrutinize the lyrics closely to realize this isn't a song about kittens and lollipops (nor is it the band at their raunchy best), but very few songs the band recorded before or since had this kind of innocent melody or vocal purity. It doesn't matter what the song is really about because it's just so damn pretty and anthemic. The chorus isn't so much a chorus in the conventional music sense as it is an ultimatum to sing along.
Some of the great innovators in rock found ways to make it sound innocent. The Stones didn't often go to that trick, instead trying to entice. "Ruby Tuesday" is one of those songs with a sweet, lovable melody that's not exactly about sweet, lovable things. This is the Stones' "Rock-A-Bye, Baby." You can sing it to your baby to help them fall asleep while being thankful they aren't actually paying attention to the words.Powered by Sidelines