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You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones

Album: Let It BleedReleased: 1969Charted:
42
  • There are two theories as to the identity of "Mr. Jimmy," who appears in the third verse. It could be a reference to Jimmy Miller, who was The Stones' producer at the time, but it might also refer to Jimmy Hutmaker, a local character that wandered the business district in Excelsior, Minnesota, a trendy artist community outside Minneapolis near Lake Minnetonka. Hutmaker, who is known as "Mr. Jimmy," had some disabilities but seemed mentally sharp most days, although he would talk to himself a lot. He walked miles every day and was cared for by the local shop owners until his death on October 3, 2007.
    The Stones performed in Excelsior on their first US tour in 1964, and were not well received. Mick Jagger went into a local drugstore to get a Cherry Coke. Back then a cherry coke was a coke with real cherries in it and drug store soda fountains were the place you usually found them. The store didn't have cherry cokes and Mr. Jimmy, standing in line behind Jagger, commented, "Well, you can't always get what you want." Mr. Jimmy was at the Stones next show in Minneapolis. Legend has it that Jagger sent a limo to pick him up, but it is more likely that a local businessman worked it out so he could go. (thanks, Chris Hall - Athens, GA, and the good people at the Excelsior chamber of commerce)
  • The chorus of children is the London Bach Choir. Their 60 voices were double-tracked to make it sound like there were even more of them.
  • The London Bach Choir tried to have their name removed from the album when they found out it was called Let It Bleed and contained "Midnight Rambler," a song about a serial killer.
  • The lyrics are about how hard it is to find happiness. No matter what you have, you always want more.
  • The "Chelsea Drugstore" was in Chelsea; the King's Road, in fact, which "Swung" just as much as Carnaby Street in its day. But it wasn't a drug store (not officially anyway), it was a pub. Stanley Kubrick filmed part of A Clockwork Orange there. But the most devastating fact about the Chelsea Drugstore is that the place is now a McDonald's. (thanks, Kevin - London, England)
  • This was released as the B-side of "Honky Tonk Women." The version on this single is shorter than the one on the album. It was released July 3, 1969, the day after Brian Jones died.
  • A version without the choir appears on Rock and Roll Circus, a British TV special The Stones taped in 1968, but never aired. Featuring music and circus performers, it was released on video in 1995.
  • The Stones first recorded this in 1968 as part of the Beggars Banquet sessions. It didn't make the cut for that album, so it was revived for Let It Bleed.
  • Al Kooper was brought in to play the organ and French horn. These instruments would have been played by Brian Jones, but he was having severe drug problems and was unavailable. That's Kooper playing the long horn note at the beginning.
  • This was used in the movie The Big Chill. It plays at Alex' funeral.
  • One of the backup singers was Doris Troy, who had a hit in 1963 called "Just One Look."
  • Marrianne Faithful, who was Mick Jagger's girlfriend, claimed that her drug use was the inspiration for this song.
  • Mick Jagger explained: "It's a good song, even if I say so myself. It's got a very sing-along chorus, and people can identify with it: No one gets what they always want. It's got a very good melody. It's got very good orchestral touches that Jack Nitzsche helped with. So it's got all the ingredients." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • The band's drummer, Charlie Watts, did not play on this track for the simple reason he was technically unable to figure out the beat for this unusual groove and rhythm. Their producer, Jimmy Miller, played on it instead. Watts eventually modified a way of playing along to it as shown in the Rock And Roll Circus video. Miller was very particular about drumming. He also played on "Happy" and contributed cowbell to "Honky Tonk Woman."

    In an interview with NPR, Al Kooper said he observed Jimmy Miller and Charlie Watts working on the drum piece. Watts wasn't getting it quick enough so Miller said, "Here, let me show you." At that point Watts said, "Why don't you play it then" and walked out. Miller stayed and the song was cut.
  • The comedian Tig Notaro did a bit where she talked about how this song is the wrong choice when trying to introduce someone to the music of the Rolling Stones. She says that when she was a kid, she was evangelical about The Beatles and The Stones, and one day the coolest kid in school came in with his father's Let It Bleed album, which he was allowed to play one song from in class. He asked Tig for the perfect track and she chose this one, which didn't go over well, since the first 45 seconds is taken up by a children's chorus. Before Mick Jagger could sing a note, the bell rang, leaving the class with the impression that The Rolling Stones made experimental choral music.
  • In 2004, Coke used this in commercials for C2, a lower calorie, lower carb version of their regular soda.
  • In December, 2008, we received this note, which while impossible to confirm, does make an interesting read:

    Forty years ago I had just returned to London from India and Nepal. I was broke, dirty and jonsing pretty badly. One night in hopes of gaining access to a drug store I was on the roof of the building above it. In truth, I wasn't much of a thief and my rooftop escapade was a sort of adventure to keep me from jumping out of my skin. As I passed a skylight I suspected someone saw me but chalked it up to paranoia and searched on.
    When I saw a black Jaguar (police cruiser) snake into the courtyard my glands overdosed me with adrenaline. I had been fairly athletic before drugs but it surprised me that I was able to fly down the fire escape and scale the huge barbed wire gate with energy (but little time) to spare. The Jag was on my heels as I made the jump onto the fence. I ran like a demon for as long as I figured it'd take for other cops to respond to their radio call and then slowed to what I thought was a casual walk. By then I was feeling pretty sick and I ducked into the Chelsea Drugstore. This was a very fashionable shopping mall which included a few pubs and I slipped into line with the crowd that was waiting for admission.
    I was sweaty and unkempt and imagined that I stood out, so, in hopes to blend in with the crowd I started a conversation with the guy closest to me. He was eating life savers and was very friendly. He was noticing a much overdressed couple and I used one of my conversation openers: "Real Circus around her isn't it," I pulled that line out of a Donavan song that ended with 'there's only one catch to the fun, to hell if you're willing, your names on the billing and it seems you're wanted in ring number one.'
    He looked at me with a curious smile. "Oh yea, I know what you mean, costumes and all."
    I went on, "Great performances but the billing probably includes both of us" I said hoping for some irony or humor. He sifted through his life savers and popped one in his mouth, looked up and gave me a big smile, "I know a bit about performances."
    OK, I should have recognized him immediately or at least by then, but it was a little beyond belief and I was in a bit of a situation. When he looked back to his life savers I asked him if he saved his favorite flavor for last. "Nope" mischievous smile again, "I always eat the red ones first," and he displayed it as he popped it in his mouth.
    By then he was in full control of the conversation; I was 20 and he was older and had the attitude of a man who is very much in charge of his life and being the center of things. I was a scruffy little junky. He asked what an American like me was doing in London. I told him I had just been on an overland journey including Vienna and Istanbul along with Bombay, Delhi and Katmandu. He said he didn't know a thing about Istanbul and that the only thing he knew about Vienna was the Choir boys and, finding another red one he flashed his grin. By then we were involved in a very fluent conversation. He was very easy to talk to despite his status as a star. He even listened to a few of my stories about the east. At one point when I implied that I was trying to get something that night that I couldn't seem to locate he knew exactly what I was talking about. "You can't always get what you want but..." Which sounded like sage advice to me. He was really very charming and extremely clever, not to say an entertaining conversationalist.
    I am terrible at face recognition and usually only thinking of the next thing I could add to the conversation. But by then his identity was penetrating my thick scull. I introduced myself as Jim and asked him his name. He said Mick, of course, and we had a bit of small talk about a dealer I knew that was named Mick before he asked me my surname. Now, where I am from they call it your last name and I didn't really know what a surname was. I remembered that when you called someone 'sir' you usually used his first name. So I said James... thinking he wanted to know my proper first name. "No, no, I mean your family name," he clarified. I figured he meant the nickname that my family called me and I said, "Jimmy" This cracked him up; I suppose by then he thought me a complete idiot. He said "so you're Mr. Jimmy, huh, that's great... Mr. Jimmy" laughing loudly.
    I figured it out. Normally I am not so terribly obtuse but, understand, I was not well at all. I told him my last name, he said, "O God, forget it, I'll never remember that, I can barely pronounce it. Mr. Jimmy is fine."
    Just then a man came out and very politely tapped on his shoulder. Before he was lead through the long line into the club he turned to invite me to join him. By then I was getting really ill; I thanked him and left. It had been a while and I knew I would be safe.
    I was very stoned on acid the first time I heard the song and made a big thing about it. No one believed me and a close friend said that even if the story was true I should just forget it, telling it would just make me look foolish. I didn't tell anyone else for 25 years at which time I told a few good friends I was drinking with. They laughed and turned the conversation elsewhere. I didn't bother to insist on the veracity of the story and was happy to just let it go. The only person who can verify the story is Mick.
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Comments: 74

It's true. The Stones were not well-received at Excelsior Amusement Park in 64. The boos were louder than the music. I was there. Jagger went for a walk, probably to get away from the hostile crowd. As others have said, Jimmy was a real guy. Here's the kicker. A few years back the city renovated a lakefront area four tour boats and such on Lake Minnetonka. There's a large are paved with bricks engraved with the names of donors to the project. In the middle is one brick that's larger than the rest. No name. It just says "Thanks, Mr. Jimmy." The city insists the donation was anonymous.John - Minneapolis, Mn
I just love the arrangement on this song. It has depth and makes the song very memorable. Great songLaura - El Paso, Tx
On the other hand, maybe he's just saying "Dig it...."
Dunno...
Oh well..... Nevermind.
:|


.
Blue - Manhattan, Ny
`

Let's...........possibly..........clear the air on one small point..........

When Mick sings "I was standing in line with Mr. Jimi, a man who looked kind of ill....." etc......

It then goes on to say.... "He said one word to me and that was 'dead'"...........

And right before it goes into the chorus Mick sings....

"And I said......Nigga......." "You can't always get what you want......." etc.

Of course the word "Nigga" is nowhere to be found in PRINTED lyrics.

However......... go listen to the album.....and.....there it is.


Therefore, unless one of the "Jimmys" that people are alluding to was "a black man" then I conclude that Mick was talking about Jimi Hendrix.

Added to that, unless white guys like Mick were running around in the 60s calling white or black guys "Nigga" like it was nothing, then that even adds to my hypothesis that....... indeed....... the Mr. Jimi who was "looking kind of ill" was none other than Hendrix himself.

And, if any of my experiences in the 60s and 70s in London, and elsewhere, count for anything, there was some pinkish tinted powder going around which was cocaine, tinted to that color........ everyone I knew back then referred to it as "Cherry Cola".

So much for "things go better with coke". Hilarious stuff.

So Mick and Jimi are somewhere, maybe not the best of friends if statements from Pete Townsend alleging "Jimi whispered one night in Marianne Faithful's ear "What are you doing here with that *sshole", referring to Mick, and "cherry cola" is there as well, something goes down between them, and Jimi turns to Mick and used the word "Dead" in some kind of sentence.

Next thing you know Mick is singing "And I said, Nigga, you can't always get what you want......."

Jimi was in London from about 66 to 69...... plenty of time for Mick to come up with it.

I dunno...... makes since to me...... the song was written in 64 or 65?

The next year Jimi Hendrix arrives in London, playing like no one's ever seen before.

And the sparks fly...... A black guy who plays like a god, and has the sex drive of 10 men, allegedly.

Something tells me Mick and Jimi didn't hit it off.

The cherry cola was flowing, among other things.

And the next thing you know Jimi is immortalized, in a Rolling Stones song.

And the word "Nigga" goes unwritten in every lyrics version.

But remains on the album to this day.


Hypothetical thesis ends.


Rainy day...... dream away...........


`
Blue - Manhattan, Ny
I see that Doris Troy was one of the backup singers for this.
More trivia: She was also one of the backup singers for Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."
Oldpink - Farmland, In
A version of this song was used in the movie "21"Astrid - Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Regarding the comment that the song mentions the "Chelsea" drugstore, not "Excelsior", the latter has four syllables and would not sound good in a song (it usually needs to roll off your tongue more easily) thus Chelsea has only two. Also the two middle syllables of < Ex- CEL-SI- or > are pronounced almost the same as Chelsea.Steve - St. Paul, Mn
Having watched the Rock and Roll Circus several times, I never understood why the Stones held this back. Their performance was fine, and it was Brian's last live performance. His slide on "No Expectations" is lovely, and MJ's upper-register singing underscores the lyric's poignancy.

The Who were very very good, but don't think either Jagger or Richards would begrudge their good friend 'Trousers' his time in the spotlight. Pete Townsend was the life of that party: he and Keith Moon seemed absolutely trashed!

My guess is that they feared running into problems with the censors over that over-the-top performance of Sympathy (the best I've ever seen or heard), featuring a shirtless MJ w/Devil tattoos, especially on this side of the pond. Lennon was certainly into it! While the late sixties were extremely open-minded, the people in charge of the media decidedly were not.
Paul - Boston, Ma
i want to know who "her" is? at the reception and in her glass was a "bleeding man"? wowScotty - Star City, Ar
'Red' is not a flavour.Ando - Toronto, On
one of the greatest songs ever!Valentin - Beijing, China
I'm not sure if anyone else has commented on this - but the last two minutes of the song with the choir singing remind me of the music for the Lion King!Geoff - Adelaide, Australia
i know for a fact that the Mr.Jimmy from Excelsior was the man. i live in Excelsior and 4 days before he died he was walking around the city like he always does. and i began to talk to him. and just the way he would tell me these lessons i could tell he would be someone to say that. he didnt no much about the rolling stones but he said a persons a person. famous or not and one whose famous definatley doesnt have more rights. he had told me about the whole thing. its based in our small city. and they changed the drugstore name. it was bacon drugNick - Excelsior, Mn
The "Chelsea Drugstore" was not really a pub as stated here but a small department store with a variety of departments notably including a bar and a chemist. It did deliveries for a while using purple clad girls on motorbikes! (Pizza Hut please take note!)

I walked by it many times as we had a flat nearby in the late 60s and it was only a short walk from the Stones' flats and loads of other musos had flats in the area so everyone knew it well.

Sadly subsequent owners have utterly ruined the original facade by replacing the science fiction porthole window design and the globular projecting lamps. Originally it was quite a clean spacey building of avant-garde French influence with silver and gold as the main colours.

Its chemist department was I believe rostered to provide out of hours services and thus became a meeting place for registered addicts, mostly heroin related, who would congregate outside at night where of course various musos would bump into each other. The locals got very upset and tried to have it closed down and I think the shop had to close one entrance?

I always assumed Mr Jimmy was Hendrix, who was hugely in vogue as the new musos muso at the time, partial to the odd pill or two at night, but I suspect he was living in Brook Street by then so it would have been a long way to Chelsea unless he was playing nearby perhaps or had dropped in to see the lads?

Now the Worlds End was(is?) a pub at the end of the Kings Road buts that quite another story...
Paul - Purley, United Kingdom
Mark from IL, have you ever heard the song "For No One" by The Beatles? It has a French horn solo in it, and that came out in 1966. A Day In the Life (1967) starts with a lone acoustic guitar, then slowly the piano and drums come in with John's vocal. It builds up with a 41-piece orchestra crescendo in the middle and at the end, finishing with one giant note played on 8 grand pianos simultaneously until everything fades out. This is an awesome song, and the Rolling Stones are great, but I think the Beatles "touched" this kind of stuff first.Rj - Philapool, Pa
Regardless of who "Mr. Jimmy" is, this song is unbelievable. A choir/French horn intro? Are you kidding me? Who did anything like that in 1969? And then comes a lone acoustic guitar with Mick's vocal joining in. Then the drums kick it all in at the end of verse one. What a great arrangement! I especially love how, at the end, when the vocals are finished and the choir keeps climbing up the scale with their "Ahhhs," the drum is doing all kinds of counter-rhythm stuff, and then it just kicks the song into a new and final gear as it starts a simple beat on 2 on 4 while the choir is holding out the final notes, and everything fades out. Every time I hear it I just say, "The Beatles can't touch that!"Mark - Mchenry, Il
i always wondered what this song was about. Now i know about the real Mr.Jimmy. Thanks all you kind midwesterners.Peace..Jim,Long Beach,Cal,USAJim - Long Beach, Ca
I have lot's of stories about Jimmy H. i grew up in Excelsior and remember the Amusement Park.
Jimmy walked the steet's with a Bible and would read from it. He had seen his parent's burn to death in their home, and talked of death a lot.
When we buried Pat L. in 2005 as we were going to the cemetery, Jimmy was in the parking lot and i heard him say see you later PAT !
Jimmy and Pat became friend's for a short time after Pat returned to Excelsior. Pat lived in CA. for 30 year's.
Thank you Jimmy H. & Pat L.
Mtka - Exc. Mn., Mn
some one told me the jimmy was about hendrix, because he was always on drugs at this time, so he would look pritty ill. it could also be Mick taking a stab at brian jones cause he was always on druggs amd usless at this time to.Nick - Seattle, Albania
I think the one best version is on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus album. It was performed live in late 1968, that is before the Let It Bleed album was released. It's a shorter and simpler (i.e. low-key) version than the studio one.Bertrand - Paris, France
I grew up in Minnetonka and had friends in Excelsior. I saw Mr. Jimmy around town on many occassions, and even spoke with him a few times. It was clear upon meeting Mr. Jimmy that he was "different". He walked around, talking nonstop, whether he had an audience or not. If you took the time to listen to his ramblings, (as many locals did) You knew that woven into his supposed "senseless ramblings" were simple yet sweet gems of profound wisdom. My favorite memory of him that demonstrates this is when I came upon him while walking to my friends house and he was talking to a tree on a street corner. He included me in the "conversation" by maintaining "eye contact" with me as well as the tree when I approached. He said (and I paraphrase here) "People can't get along when there are too many of them in one place. They can't be too close together, or they fight. Trees grow close together and they touch each other all the time, but they don't fight or hurt each others feelings. It's too bad people aren't like that. This tree is lonely." The Mr. Jimmy in the Stones song is this Mr. Jimmy. Everyone around here knows that. Jagger may have forgotten the name of the (actual) Bacon Drug in Excelsior and took artistic license and changed it to the Chelsea Drugstore, as artists often do. The curious thing is how many supposed Mr. Jimmys have come out of the woodwork over the years. The real Mr. Jimmy was egoless and would not have had the wherewithall to attempt to grab a claim to fame in ANY way, let alone such a pathetic one. His friends know the truth.
R.I.P., Mr. Jimmy You will be forever missed.
Diane - Minnetonka, Mn, Mn
Brian was at the session but he asked Al Kooper to come to the session and so Al played piano,organ & French horn while Brian read a magazine on botany.Ken - Booneville,ms, Ms
No, I'm from Excelsior, MN, the song references Jimmy Hutmaker, aka "Mr. Jimmy". I've heard about the legend for as long as I can remember, it's one of Excelsiors tiny little claim to faims. I talked to him on dozens of occasions, and he confirmed the myth to me and many others. He passed away in October of 2007 from diabetes. He really was the mascot to the city, everyone loved him and took care of him (which kind of symbolized the good, kind hearted people of Excelsior) he is missed by all who knew him.Charlie H - Excelsior, Mn
I LOVE THE STONES. and this song is one of my favorites.Rosario - Naples, Fl
If this song was written about marianne faithfull thats so funny I think shes obscessed with her self and she thinks she can have everything she wants and then even mick tells her she can't have enerything.so funnyAshley - Quincy, Il
Gotta love the children in this song. Especially the fact that they're double-tracked to make it sound like 120 children instead of 60 children!Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
DID AL KOOPER PLAY PIANO?Carol - Portland, Or
Had this as our weddig song in May 2003(awsome) no one there had a clue of our meaning of it! pmsl. Sidd -coventrySidd - Coventry, England
This song was also used in an episode of "House".
The prescription that Jagger talks about getting is drugs. Also notice the use of the word, "connection" which could mean a drug dealer. Ofcourse all of this is purely conjecture. Excuse the typos I've just injested several vicodins.
Joel - Columbia, Sc
I grew up in Excelsior, MN, knew Jimmy well and there is no doubt in my mind that what he said was true as he was incapable of lying or making up any story. He was extraordinarily correct with dates and details. Yes, I'm sure he met and conversed with Mick at Bacon Drug Store - we all hung out there. He'll be missed.
Sue, Sedona, AZ
Sue - Sedona, Az
Jimmy Hutmaker did indeed pass away on October 3rd in Excelsior, Minnesota. He was known to everyone in town as Mr. Jimmy for as long as I've known about him. He seemed to be what is sometimes called "wandered". He walked (lately power chaired) all over town, each and every day, sometimes sitting on his own, other times visiting with people. He talked to himself a lot. He usually was chewing a a big cigar. Every year he sang "White Christmas" to close out the Christmas pageant at Excelsior Elementary School. He had a lovely, warm tenor voice. He had met Mick Jagger the night of the Stones concert in Excelsior in 1964, a poorly-attended event in a cavernous hall at a small amusement park in a little Minnesota town by a lake. They weren't well known then -- I was just discovering them back East in my own little town. The next day Mick went to Bacon's Drugstore in Excelsior to get a prescription. He saw Mr. Jimmy, who said he had come to get a cherry coke, but was given a regular one instead. Mr. Jimmy then said "You can't always get what you want."
Anyone who ever met Mr. Jimmy knows this is the truth. The guy was absolutely without ego, without vanity. He lived a simple yet extremely interactive life, doing exactly what he wanted to do. Services for Mr. Jimmy will be held Oct. 13th at St. John the Baptist on Mill Street, and the parking lot won't be able to hold the crowd
Julian - Minneapolis, Mn
Yes, I just wanted to reaffirm that 'Mr. Jimmy' did pass away on Wednesday October 3, 2007. Up until his end he was still as talkative and cheerful ass ever. I had direct contact with Jimmy almost on a daily basis and I can say that he was probably the biggest "character" I will ever personally be able to meet.Tawnya - Minneapolis, Mn
Mr. Jimmy, the one from Excelsior, MN, died today. It's October 3, 2007.

My buddy played this song tonight during his set at Open Mike night at the 318 Cafe in Excelsior. It was a Good Thing because the crowd went absolutely nuts.
Blayne - Chanhassen, Mn
1 of the greatest songs in music history. Not just rock and roll - ALL of music history. To experience this live is 1 step closer to God.Craig - Melbourne, Australia
Love this song. I like it live to on Rock & Roll Curcis. It is sad to watch Brian Jones on it though. Not knowing what was going to happen to him. Poor Brian. I miss him.Shannan - Wilmington, De
Don't know the name of the chior...but it was a bunch of nuns...

thats from the horses mouth...nuns without any underwear...

just naked plush fur under all them habits...kinda juicy...IF you know what I mean...
China - Miami, Fl
Jimmy Miller gave an ultimatum about wanting 3 percent instead of 1%...this was his last album with them...

You figure it out...he was one of them and the ultimatum is what severed his ties with them...Yes he did play drums on it just as was explained above...charlie couldn't get the groove at the moment...I don't think he left in a huff as was implied...I don't know that one way or the other..

you could get by on 1% of the stones royalties...even if you "wanted" 3 % and everyone else in the business was getting 3%...

I think it was about Jimmy Miller...and others...cleverly done...

no one song or character in any song has to be abut one person...
the charachters can change between verses...lik eunderweear//or women...or tampoons...or socks...or rubbers...or anuses...

or ...or ...gutir strings... or dog tails...ro cats in the microwave...

or ...or...
China - Miami, Fl
Although some music books have this in Open-E tuning capoed at the 8th fret, Keith actually plays this memorable part in Open-G, capoed at the 5th fret. If you watch him in "Rock and Roll Circus", you will see that he is playing a modified version in standard tuning; this is necessary because he also had to cover the cool lead guitar parts later in the song, Brian being too drug-damaged by this time to do anything but simple strums. If you think about it, the second-through-fourth strings are tuned the same in both tunings, so it's easy enough to fake it in standard tuning, although it lacks that authentic "ring" heard on the record. I also suspect Keith might have been using Nashville tuning on the original album; see my comment on "Sister Morphine" for details on this tuning if you're interested.Andrew - New York, United States
This Was in Steel Wheels and Bridges to Babylon.Dylan - Branson, Mo
Does anyone no the name of the choir behind this song because its said that the same choir does a bunch of classic rock songs/Stephen - Claymont, De
Notice how Mick does a Dylan thing, pushin' the lyric every third beat or so..."a MAN said he LOOKED pretty ILL....Anonymous
Am i the only one who hears "we decided that we would have a sorghum"???Brandon - Peoria, Il
All though it always seems to be tied to "The Big Chill" it's still a great song I remember WAY before the movie. So there...Mark - Ascension Island,so. Atlantic
Jimmy Scott aka ObLaDi ObLaDa who played congas on some stones sessions and supplyed drugs to both the stones and the beatles, used to say it was about him.Bill - Liverpool, England
As Josh said, it was used on House. Twice actually. House-Aste famous philosipher Jagger once said 'you can't always get what you want'
Cuddy- (his boss) I looked up that philospher you quoted, Jagger. Turns out you're right, you can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you get what you need. GREAT SHOW!!!
Julia - Sparta, Nj
A GREAT song! Great lyrics.Great everything. The Stones at there finest!Using the The London Bach Choir was a stroke of genious.Greg - Victoria, Canada
I agree with you Johnny, the whole Paul is dead thing really needs to stop. I never understood why if the music industry was trying to cover it up, why they would include "clues" in the songs. What a load of crap. Very unlikely this is about Jimmy Page, since it was written in 1968 and he was virtually unknown then. I agree with the Excelsior story. Except Jeff from CT, the line is "I was standing in line at the Chelsea drugstore". Chelsea is an area of London. Awesome song though! Just saw the Stones peform this in the encore in Shanghai last week, and it gives me chills listening to it now!Sam - Shanghai, China
This is one of the best Stoness songs ever. All teh instruments blend in perfectly, and the words give us a message we rarely hear from rock stars. I believe this not about Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page, and is about that other Jimmy everyones talking about. Not about drugs, that is just crazy. Tom, there is NO way this is a Paul is dead clue. In fact, there is no way that exists. I hope nobody will mention it in songfacts from now on.Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
The Rolling Stones are hundred times better than The Who. The Who are good, but The Stones are the greatest rock and roll band of all time!Jim - Philadelphia, Pa
This song is terrificly awesome. Sometimes it makes you want to dance (at least for me it does), and then it makes you want to sing the chorus. This is obviously one of the best songs the Stones have ever done.Matthew - East Brunswick, Nj
This song is awesome. I love the lyrics to it, and when I hum it my spazz science teacher starts to sing it (heh heh) regardless of twenty kids or the staff or principal.Galina - New London, Ct
I think this is one of their best songs. Is really amazing the way it s going increasing finally having a real music party. Full of philosophy and great guitar sounds. Take a look to Brian Jones in the circus take. Great.Homero - Monterrey , Mexico
I remember that when this song came out, the theory was going around that Paul McCartney was dead and that this was being covered up by the music industry (although clues to his death could be found in the lyrics of various Beatles' songs). Our local radio station in Buffalo, NY, WKBW, did a special on the Paul is Dead issue. They believed that "Mr. Jimmy" was a reference to Paul McCartney, because, although he goes by the name Paul, his actual name is James Paul McCartney. Further, the reference to seeing Mr. Jimmy looking "pretty ill" and the referece to "dead" at the end of the verse was a clue from the Stones that Paul had been ill and had died. -TM, Charlottesville, VATom - Charlottesville, Va
This was used on an episode of House at the endJosh - Sacramento, Ca
I always thought "Mr. Jimmy" was Jimi Hendrix.Patrick - Conyers, Ga
I live in Excelsior, MN, and this story is true! I see Mr. Jimmy all the time, and unfortunately now, he has been reduced to a power chair, but he's still just as awesome as ever.Annie - Excelsior, Mn
This is a wonderful song. I love when the acoustic guitar comes in at the beginning - hesitantly.Tim - Kilkenny, Ireland
My Mom works in downtown Excelsior and knows Jimmy well (he comes into her work to borrow stamps) The story is correct as stated, except of course the date is wrong.

The Rolling Stones played Excelsior Amusement Park June 12, 1964.
Eric - Duluth, Mn
i think that the song is about to not be greedy or want to much because in the end you usually end up getting what is needed. or maybe its telling u to count your blessings...Kara - Richmondhill, Canada
How does that make sense? They wrote the song back in the 60's. How does it come from an event from 2004?

More than likely it's a reference to Jimi Hendrix.
James - Leesburg, Va
I live in Excelsior, and its so kool to see Mr. Jimmy walkin down the street and just think that he was the inspiration to this song, i believe the story about him and Mick 100%Daniel - Excelsior, Mn
Another theory about who Mr. Jimmy is: Jimmy Phelge, the old Stones roomate from their early days. Phelge is also the second part of the group songwriting credit the Stones used early on.

To further add to the confusion, I once saw the lyrics transcribed with "Mr. Jitters" in place of Mr. Jimmy.
Terry - Glendale, Az
I heard Mr. Jimmy was Jimmy Page of the famous Led Zeppelin. He played on a few tracks for the Stones around that time, but never got any credit so nobody is 100% sure if its true.Blackdog - New Milford, Nj
The story about the song I hear is the following. You'll note in the song "So I went down to the Excelsior drugstore, to buy myself a Cherry Red...I met up with Mr. Jimmy...he was looking pretty ill."
The Rolling Stones played a concert in Excelsior, Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis. During their time there, Jagger goes to the drugstore to buy a Cherry Coke. Of course in those days, they mixed the syrup and everything right there. So anyway, in Excelsior, there was also a 'deranged' guy named Jimmy, who was well known in town. It happened that Jimmy was in the drugstore when Jagger orders his Coke, but he couldn't get it because they were all out of cherry flavouring or something. So after getting denied, Jimmy says to Jagger, "You can't always get what you want." And thus a legend was made.
Jeff - New Haven, Ct
When I first heard the choir, it sounded more like a choir of Men and Women, rather than a choir of children.Annabelle - Eugene, Or
there are so many people mr. jimmy(jimi) could be in reference to, but yea my bet would be on either jimi hendrix or rev. jim jones either way this song kick ass to the maxJimi - Stamford, Ct
The line is, "We decided that we would have a soda," not, "We decided that we would drink some poisoned Kool-aid."Spencer - South Kingstown, Ri
Mr. Jimmy is definitely not a reference to Rev. Jim Jones. This song came out in 1969. The Jonestown Massacre occurred sometime in the late 1970's.Joel - Chicago, Il
The Part about Mr Jimmy probably has to do with the so called minister Jim Jones. The lyrics speak of Drinking something (cherry red) Jim Jones killed his followers with poisoned Kool-aid. Probably where the "said one word to me, and that was "dead" " came from.Dawn - Crum, Wv
if u ask me the song is about drugs, u cant always get what u want in life, and u feel depressed, so what u do is try to get what u need, which is drugs. I dunno just my opinion.Anonymous
It's not actually proven it's Jimmy Miller referenced in this song. I've always thought the line points to Jimi Hendrix instead.Matt - Russell Springs, Ky
One fact about the Stones Rock and Roll Circus performance is that the Who knocked the Stones off by rocking out with a blistering performance of A Quick One While He's Away (predating Tommy), causing Mick and Keith to prevent this from being released. However, the truth came out when director Jeff Stein found the reel performance and used it in The Who's rockumentary The Kids Are Alright (released at the time of drummer Keith Moon's death).Robert - Chicago, Il
not sure about this, but my dad has always thought that Mr. Jimmy is Jimmy Paige of Led Zepplin and they are at a drug clinic in englandSimon - Anchorage, Ak
Memorably used in the movie "The Big Chill" when Jobeth Williams plays it on the organ during the funeral scene, bringing smiles to the faces of the other characters remembering Alex, whose funeral they were attending. The scene sequed into the funeral parade and the Stones version played throughout the rest of the sequence.Dc - Hilo, Hi