The Rolling Stones

Bitch

Composed by Keith Richards / Mick Jagger

Song Review by

One of the better and more popular numbers on Sticky Fingers, "Bitch" had more than enough hooks and oomph to make it as a hit single, though it was only used as a B-side (to "Brown Sugar"). Another of the group's endless series of killer riffs -- a series that would start to grow stale and less exciting within a year or two, although no one knew that at the time -- gets pulled out of the hat in the opening bars, with propulsive unison guitar-bass lines, interrupted by a wiry interjection of a single sustained note. It's that riff that keeps the blood pumping during the verses, while the bridge gets just a bit noisier and brassier, ending with the kind of high, ecstatic wordless exclamation that the group was using often in this period (as in "Brown Sugar," for instance). Horns join the guitars to blare out the core unison riff, and as is the case with other Stones tracks of the time like "Honky Tonk Women" and "Brown Sugar," the combination packs an extremely effective punch. The song's title has led some to assume that it's another sneering, misogynistic Jagger/Richards effort. In fact, the lyrics are not so much sexist as vague, though delivered with panache. When people dug into the lyric of "Brown Sugar," they found something that was more disturbing than they suspected; on the other hand, digging into the lyric of "Bitch" might reveal that it's less disturbing than suspected. For one thing, the song is not about a "bitch," but declaring that love itself is a bitch. (In fact, the group could have easily given the song a different title, as the b-word is barely uttered.) For another thing, the lyrics are, even by the standards of Rolling Stones songs, hard to even make out due to the slurred execution and getting half-smothered by the production; try singing along with it, with actual words, if you doubt that. Mick Jagger generally states, not too coherently, that he's in an energetic, messed-up state, and if anything he is the one panting for sex, as in a line about salivating like Pavlov's dog (you really need to get a lyric sheet to suss that one out) and expecting to get laid out. The line about kicking the stalls indicates that Jagger might even be assuming the part of an actual horse for the song. But Jagger's voice is not there so much to deliver meaningful lyrics as to provide another husky instrument, as part of the song's overall dance-rock mix.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1971 Universal
Sticky Fingers 1971 Polydor / Rolling Stones Records 5:25
Ladies & Gentlemen 1972 Eagle Vision
Made in the Shade 1975 Virgin 3:36
No Image 1979 Rounder 3:33
No Image 1979 Trademark Of Official Quality
Jump Back: The Best of the Rolling Stones (1971-1993) 1993 Polydor / Universal 3:37
No Image 1996 Swingin' Pig
No Image 1999 WR Records 5:01
No Image 2000 Rattlesnake Records 4:30
No Image 2002 3:38
Singles 1968-1971 2005 ABKCO Records / Universal Distribution 3:37
LP Sleeve Box Set 2005 Toshiba EMI
The Biggest Bang 2007 Universal Distribution / Universal Music
The  Rolling Stones Box Set 2009 Promotone 3:37
The Singles: 1971-2006 2011 Universal Music 3:35
GRRR! 2012 Universal / Universal Music 3:37
From the Vault: The Marquee Club Live in 1971 2015 Eagle Rock / Eagle Vision
Sticky Fingers Live 2015 Promotone 4:27
From the Vault: Live at the Tokyo Dome 2015 Eagle Rock / Eagle Vision 3:42
No Image Swingin' Pig 4:33
December's Children (And Everybody's)/Sticky Fingers CD Maximum
From the Vault: The Complete Series, Vol. 1 Eagle Vision
No Image Phoenix
No Image Scorpio Distribution
No Image
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