The Rolling Stones

Come On

Composed by Chuck Berry

Song Review by

"Come On" was the Rolling Stones' first single, and thus an important recording in the story of their career, though far from the best or among the more successful. When the group convened to record their debut single in the spring of 1963, they had yet to start writing their own material, and they were principally concerned with finding a song to cover that would reflect their emerging blues-rock sensibilities; be commercial without selling out; and be sufficiently obscure that it was unknown in Britain, and might not by any chance be covered at the same time by another British band. It was a tall order to fit all these categories, and perhaps a better song could have been chosen than "Come On," which indeed seemed to have gotten the nod primarily for its obscurity. It was, at least, a song by Chuck Berry, the artist the Rolling Stones covered the most. It was far from the best Chuck Berry song (though it was okay), however, having originally been released on a flop single in 1961, when Berry's career was in the doldrums owing to his conflicts with the law. In its original form, "Come On" was a typical Berry song in that it catalogued serial frustrations, managing to combine his oft-traveled themes of romance, cars (this one wouldn't start), and phone calls (though this call turns out to be some stupid jerk trying to reach another number). It was atypical in that it featured both saxophone and accompanying female vocals, as well as a tumbling rhythm. Setting the mold for many of their cover versions (of Berry and other composers), the Rolling Stones quickened the tempo considerably, also putting more emphasis on off-beat guitar chording and wailing harmonica. In fact, the rhythm (most likely unconsciously) came close to reggae, perhaps reflecting their jitters as they were still inexperienced in the studio. On the chorus, Mick Jagger was backed up by high harmonies, and uncharacteristically -- at least in light of much of their subsequent work -- they actually changed one of the lyrics to make it less controversial, substituting "some stupid guy" for the "some stupid jerk" who was trying to reach the wrong number. An upward key change was thrown in for the last verse to add excitement, and the whole thing was over with in a minute and 45 seconds, leaving the impression that the recording was rather hurried. For all that, it was really pretty good, though perhaps finding the Stones in a more reserved and jovial mood than they would be on all the singles that followed. It only made #21 in the British charts, but it was a start. Allegedly the group was reluctant to play it live, but they did do it on the BBC, as can be heard on bootlegs.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1963 Decca 1:48
Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) 1966 ABKCO Records 0:00
More Hot Rocks (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies) 1972 ABKCO Records 1:48
Rolled Gold: The Very Best of the Rolling Stones 1975 Universal Distribution
Stones Story 1976 Decca
The Complete Singles Collection: The London Years 1989 ABKCO Records 1:48
No Image 2002 1:51
Singles 1963-1965 2004 ABKCO Records 1:49
The Rolling Stones 1964-1969 [Vinyl Box Set] 2010 ABKCO Records / Universal Distribution 1:49
GRRR! 2012 ABKCO Records 1:50
The Rolling Stones in Mono 2016 ABKCO Records 1:51