The Rolling Stones

Ruby Tuesday

Song Review by

"Ruby Tuesday" is a good candidate for the most melodic Mick Jagger-Keith Richards composition ever, and it was a number one hit in early 1967. This is one of the few Rolling Stones songs that could be fairly said to be as melodic as any of the best Lennon-McCartney compositions. That's not to say that some of their more basic hits weren't great; it's more to note that the Rolling Stones did write some classic pop melodies as well. It also employs a very effective contrast between the moods of the verses and choruses. The verses, softly sung by Jagger, with a bit of vocal harmony; at the end of the very first line, he hits one of the lowest notes in his entire oeuvre, so low, in fact, that he has trouble hitting it clearly. Those verses are backed by gentle piano and wonderful recorder (by Brian Jones). The choruses, on the other hand, are far more harder-hitting, introducing drums and yearning harmonized vocals, taken at a mid-tempo rock pace before coming to a dramatic pause at the conclusion of each one. The very brief recorder solo by Jones -- in a plaintive, almost quasi-classical Renaissance style, as it is throughout the recording -- that dominates the instrumental tag adds an appropriately melancholic touch to the classic. In lyrical as well as musical attitude, "Ruby Tuesday" seems a notable departure from the kinds of putdowns the Stones had specialized in during the mid-'60s. The girl who is "Ruby Tuesday" seems to be a very promiscuous if very seductive and desirable one. Rather than complaining about her stuck-upness, however, Jagger's vocal seems wistfully observational, rather than critical, acknowledging that there is no way to permanently possess the affections of this free spirit. (According to Roy Carr in The Rolling Stones: An Illustrated Record, the song is "supposedly about a well-known groupie.") "Ruby Tuesday," interestingly, was intended as the B-side of "Let's Spend the Night Together." When the A-side turned out to be too hot to handle for many radio programmers due to its sexual implications, they played the flip side -- no great loss to the Stones (who got their number one single with it), or to the audience, since it was a better song anyway. Like another Stones ballad, "Lady Jane," "Ruby Tuesday" would be subjected to an elongated, Baroque-classical-psychedelic-soul treatment by the Rotary Connection on their 1967 debut album. The most noted interpretation, unexpectedly, may have been by folk-rock singer Melanie, who did an anguished, slow, and surprisingly credible version on her 1970 Candles in the Rain album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1964 ABKCO Records 3:20
Between the Buttons 1967 ABKCO Records 3:17
Flowers 1967 ABKCO Records 3:17
Through the Past, Darkly: Big Hits, Vol. 2 1969 ABKCO Records 3:18
Hot Rocks: 1964-1971 1972 ABKCO Records / Universal Music 3:17
Rolled Gold: The Very Best of the Rolling Stones 1975 Universal Distribution
Stones Story 1976 Decca
No Image 1977 Arcade Music
No Image 1981 Decca
The Complete Singles Collection: The London Years 1989 ABKCO Records 3:13
No Image 2000 Rattlesnake Records 3:31
Forty Licks 2002 ABKCO Records 3:15
No Image 2002 3:19
Remastered Series 2004 ABKCO Records 3:18
Toronto Rocks 2004
Various Artists
Singles 1965-1967 2004 ABKCO Records 3:13
The Singles: 1971-2006 2011 Polydor 4:14
GRRR! 2012 ABKCO Records 3:15
The Very Best of the Rolling Stones 1964-1971 2013 ABKCO Records 3:15
The Rolling Stones in Mono 2016 ABKCO Records 3:14