Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones Song Meaning

Brown Sugar has become one of the most scandalous compositions in the work of the rock band The Rolling Stones. The topics that it touched on were too bold for that time, and the words were too frank.

Years later, even its author Mick Jagger began to be somewhat embarrassed by his offspring. Let’s find out what the track angered the stiff public.

Brown Sugar song history

As Stanley Booth wrote in a book about The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger first mentioned her in December 1969, on his way to the Muscle Shoals studio:

I myself have one new one. Not yet words, but only a couple of words in my head. Called Brown Sugar, about a woman who fucks one of her black servants. At first I called her Black Pussy, but then I decided that it was too frank, too casual.

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

About the process of creating the song Brown Sugar, Jagger said the following:

I wrote it in Australia, somewhere between Melbourne and Sydney, while in my trailer while filming Ned Kelly. I had plenty of time then. I just wrote what I wanted to write without trying to test the waters. People react very quickly to what you write, but I only wrote what came to my mind.

2003

Meaning of Brown Sugar

As to who Brown Sugar was dedicated to, opinions differ. Bill Wyman claimed that she was partly inspired by the black backing vocalist Claudia Linnear, who worked with Ike Turner. On the other hand, many argue that Jagger wrote Brown Sugar with singer Marsha Hunt in mind, who gave birth to his daughter Carys. Yes, and Marsha herself has repeatedly confirmed this version.

What is the Brown Sugar song about? Opinions were divided. Let’s start with the fact that brown sugar is slang for heroin. The text is about African slaves being raped by their white masters. Tony Sanchez, in Up And Down With The Rolling Stones, suggested that the references to slaves and whipping symbolize the power of heroin (“brown sugar”) over the addicted person.

Mick Jagger himself, in the liner notes for the album Jump Back (1993), wrote that the lyrics of the song implied drugs and girls. In addition, in a famous interview with Rolling Stone, he said:

God knows what I meant in that song. It’s such a mess. All the nasty themes at once … Now I would never write a song like that. I would probably censor myself. I would think, “Oh God, I can’t. I must stop. I just can’t write so vulgarly.”

Rolling Stone 1995

Release and achievements

The song Brown Sugar was the first track and lead single from Sticky Fingers (1971). It topped the charts in the US and Canada, and climbed to number two on the UK charts.

Rolling Stone ranked Brown Sugar at number 495 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and at number five on its Top 100 Guitar Songs.

Clip Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones

The most commonly used video clip of Brown Sugar is a recording of The Rolling Stones’ performance, made on Top of the Pops (BBC UK channel). Let’s watch an online clip of the legends of rock music.

Interesting Facts

  • In 1970, at the birthday of Keith Richards, which was celebrated by his friends at the Olympic Studios in London, an alternative version of the song was recorded with the participation of Eric Clapton and Al Cooper. It is said that this was Clapton’s informal audition for the role of the guitarist of The Rolling Stones.
  • Brown Sugar was the first single released by Rolling Stones Records.
  • Keith Richards’ autobiographical book Life suggests that Jagger is actually singing “Skydog slaver” and not “scarred old slaver”. Skydog was the name of Howard Duane Allman, a virtuoso guitarist with whom the Rolling Stones crossed paths at the Muscle Shoals studio.
  • The song has been used in commercials for Pepsi and Kahlua.

Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones Lyrics

Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in the market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he’s doin’ all right
Hear him whip the women just around midnight

Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good
Brown Sugar, just like a young girl should

Drums beatin’ cold, English blood runs hot
Lady of the house wonderin’ when it’s gonna stop
House boy knows that he’s doin’ all right
You should have heard him just around midnight

Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good
Brown Sugar, just like a young girl should

Brown Sugar how come you dance so good
Brown Sugar, just like a black girl should

I bet your mama was a Cajun Queen
And all her boyfriends were sweet sixteen
I’m no school boy but I know what I like
You should have heard them just around midnight

Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good
Brown Sugar, just like a black girl should

Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones Lyrics

A ship from the Gold Coast brings slaves to work in the cotton fields,
To sell them in the market in New Orleans
Scarred Old Slaver Knows He’s All Right
Hear him whipping women around midnight

Brown sugar, why are you so delicious
Brown sugar, just like a young girl

Drums beat slowly, English blood flows fast
The lady of the house wants to know when she will stop
Servant Boy Knows He’s All Right
You must have heard it around midnight

Brown sugar, why are you so delicious
Brown sugar, just like a young girl

Brown sugar, why do you dance so well
Brown sugar, just like a black girl

I bet your mom was a cajun queen
And all her boys were sweet sixteens
I’m not a schoolboy, but I know what I like
Surely you heard them somewhere at midnight

Brown sugar, why are you so delicious
Brown sugar, just like a black girl

Download Brown Sugar

You can not download the song Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones for free on Blimey. Here you can listen to songs, as well as watch online clips in good quality.

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