In this post from last Saturday, I bestowed the honor of "My favorite song at the moment" on "Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones. I then briefly compared it to "Run for Your Life," the idea being that both paint crude pictures of female subjugation and both are hard-to-resist ear-pleasers. What a frustrating combination, no? Why did the Stones and The Beatles have to wrap such insulting imagery in sonics so agreeable? They could've made it much easier for some of us by simply not doing one part of their job that well. Instead, we're forced to endure Mick Jagger's sneers of "Under my thumb/The squirmin' dog who's just had her day" with a delectable Motown groove simultaneously at work. And regarding "Run for Your Life," it's a challenge not getting caught up in the song's "addictive energy" even as John spews hateful lines like, "Baby I'm determined/And I'd rather see you dead." Pop music shouldn't be all about easy, uncomplicated rewards, but these two songs present difficulties of an especially vexing variety. Or that's how it might be for some people, anyway. As an avowed fan of both "Under My Thumb" and "Run for Your Life," I've evidently moved beyond this moral dilemma.
Side-note: I wonder which is the more offensive song. Jagger seems to find a very unhealthy sort of pleasure - one deviously playful - in belittling his squeeze, calling her a "Siamese cat of a girl" and "the sweetest, hmmm, pet in the world." On the other hand, John is possessed by something close to (if not actually) murderous intent, which I think puts "Run for Your Life" over the top. In John's defense, at least he owns up to being "a wicked guy" who "was born with a jealous mind." Ultimately though, that doesn't wash away any of the song's sins.