The Rolling Stones song Mick Jagger made up on the spot

The Rolling Stones

Before the 1960s, much of popular music songwriting appeared to be inspired by life’s most powerful emotions: love, pain, jealousy, or melancholy, with the latter three typically relating to the former.  Bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were formed formed, inspired by 1950s rock ‘n’ roll legends. Their music was always about prospective or deceitful lovers; however, in the mid-1960s, things began to change.

Throughout the mid-twentieth century, literature, fine art, and music thrived as a result of a modern renaissance. The first domino appeared to fall in the world of literature. All thanks to pioneering poets and authors of the so-called Beat Generation. They reinvented traditional storytelling practices to rekindle the imagination.

William S. Burroughs, for example, pioneered the ‘cut-up technique‘ for generating new ideas. There were words from books, newspapers, or one’s writing were cut up and rearranged to inspire a new path for creative endeavors.

In the late 1960s, The Rolling Stones had finally broken free from the constraints of their earlier years’ rhythm and blues covers. They were looking for new songwriting ideas.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ fruitful songwriting partnership had found its footing by the end of the 1960s. It was with an impressive string of number-one hits securing an immortal legacy.

The majority of the classic Jagger/Richards compositions had tangible meanings and narratives. However, Jagger occasionally experimented with his lyrics. The 2010 documentary Stones in Exile shows the charismatic frontman using Burroughs’ cut-up method. They did it to write lyrics for the 1972 album Exile on Main Street.

When writing ‘Jiving Sister Fanny‘, a lesser-known Stones song recorded in 1969, Jagger also came up with some random words. The first verse begins with the words, “Jivin’ Sister / Fanny, told her man from / Philadelphia, PA, uh, huh, huh, huh / He tore down the station said she didn’t / Like the way we played, uh, huh, huh, huh”.

I do not doubt that Jagger wrote the song while singing it live. After three more verses, Jagger abandoned the impromptu song. It was only supported by Mick Taylor’s lead vocals. The band had no intention of releasing ‘Jiving Sister Fanny‘. But it did so in 1975 as part of the unauthorized compilation album Metamorphosis.

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