Meaning of Honky Tonk Women by The Rolling Stones & The Story

In the history of the rock band The Rolling Stones, many important events are associated with the song Honky Tonk Women. During the studio work on the work, Brian Jones was fired from the band, and the day before the release of the single, he was found dead. It became the first composition that the group recorded with the participation of Mick Taylor. According to it, Keith Richards determined whether it was possible to get an audience at the concert.

Let’s remember how the legendary track was born.

The story of the creation of the song Honky Tonk Women

The idea for the future hit was born in December 1968, when members of The Rolling Stones were on vacation. Keith Richards recalled how the song was written:

Honky Tonk Women started in Brazil. Me and Mick, Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg, who was pregnant with my son at the time. That didn’t stop us from going to Mato Grasso and living on this ranch. And there are cowboys everywhere. There are horses and spurs everywhere. Mick and I were sitting on the porch of the ranch house, and I started playing, basically fooling around with an old Hank Williams idea. After all, it really seemed to us that we looked like real cowboys … And we sat in the middle of nowhere with all these horses where black frogs scatter in the toilet from under the stream. It was great. The girls liked it.

In general, at first she was in the spirit of real country, all so sentimental. And after a couple of months we were composing and recording songs. And in a strange way, as a result of some metamorphosis, it suddenly turned into this addictive, black thing, blues thing.


Mick Jagger and Keith Richards also talk about the history of the creation of the work in the documentary “Ole Ole Ole! A trip across Latin America.”

Mick Jagger:

Keith had an opening to the song Honky Tonk Women. We drove to a ranch that was very far from Sao Paulo. It was [черт знает где]. But it was a large coffee plantation, and we were very warmly received at this ranch.

Keith Richards:

What is there to do at the ranch when evening approaches and you have a couple of guitars? Suddenly remembered Hank Williams [вероятно, речь о его песне Honky Tonk Blues]… I think we played old country songs…

The meaning of the song Honky Tonk Women by The Rolling Stones

The phrase “honky tonk women” is usually used to refer to girls who work as dancers or just hang out in cheap American bars. As a rule, they are not burdened with moral principles and often do not shy away from the most ancient profession.

The authors of the song remembered who was their source of inspiration:


“Let’s not forget the ‘tavern girl’ herself, Cathy James. A close friend of the whole group.


“And her friend Candy.

Rolling stone

The lyrics of the song Honky Tonk Women contain several provocative phrases that are perceived as references to drugs and sex. However, their meaning is well veiled, so the track was allowed to be broadcast on radio and television.

Recording and release

The musicians began studio work on the song in March 1969. Brian Jones was at first present at the sessions and even participated in the recording of the first demos. But soon he was replaced by Mick Taylor. He later recalled that the composition was almost ready by that time, but he “definitely added something” himself.

Here is what Keith Richards had to say:

I wrote Honky Tonk Women, clearly in the style of Hank Williams and Jimmy Rogers. Later, when we were fooling around with it, trying to make it sound more funky, we managed to achieve the sound we used on the single. We all thought, “Wow, this should be a hit single.” And so it turned out, he was fantastic. This is one of those songs that everyone likes regardless of their preferences.


The Rolling Stones recorded the song in two versions. The hit version of Honky Tonk Women was released as a single, and the album “Let It Bleed” included the track “Country Honk” with a different sound and different lyrics.

The song topped the charts in the US, UK and several other countries. It was included in the list of the 500 greatest songs according to Rolling Stone.

Video of Honky Tonk Women by The Rolling Stones

Next, we offer you to watch the music video for Honky Tonk Women by The Rolling Stones.

Interesting Facts

  • A rather complex drum part from a song is often learned by beginner drummers.
  • All the fans who helped clean up Hyde Park after the Rolling Stone concert in July 1969 received a copy of the Honky Tonk Women single.
  • This is one of the songs of the legendary rock band banned in China.
  • At concerts, Mick Jagger sometimes introduced Honky Tonk Women as “a song for all the girls in the room.”

Honky Tonk Women Lyrics by The Rolling Stones

I met a gin-soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis
She tried to take me upstairs for a ride
She had to heave me right across shoulder
Cause I just can’t seem to drink you off my mind

It’s the honky thin women
Gimme, gimme, gimme the honky tonk blues

I laid a divorcee in New York City
I had to put up some kind of a fight
The lady then she covered me with roses
She blew my nose2 and then she blew my mind

It’s the honky thin women
Gimme, gimme, gimme the honky tonk blues
It’s the honky thin women
Gimme, gimme

  • Perhaps we are talking about Linda Eastman (Linda Eastman), who later married Paul McCartney.
  • The author may hint at cocaine use.

Song quote

Brown Sugar was a good single, but our best single for a long time was Honky Tonk Women. I knew this for sure when it came out, because a lot of people fell in love with it. They just couldn’t help moving under it. And his whole essence is in this – in the constant movement of his ass.

Charlie Watts 1973

If by then [Honky Tonk Women] they didn’t start dancing in the hall, it was clear that they would no longer be started.

Keith Richards

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