Beast Of Burden

Album: Some Girls (1978)
Charted: 8
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Sometimes misunderstood as a putdown, this is a rare Stones song that treats women as equals. Jagger sings that he "Don't need no beast of burden."
  • Ron Wood: "That's another one that just came very naturally in the studio. And I slipped into my part and Keith had his going. It may have appeared as though it was planned. We can pick it up today and it will just naturally slip into the groove again with the guitars weaving in a special way. It's quite amazing really. Ever since Keith and I first started to trade licks, it was a very natural thing that, for some unknown reason, if he's playing up high, I'm down low and the other way around. We cross over very naturally. We call it an ancient form of weaving-- which we still are impressed by it to this day. Unexplainable, wonderful things happen with the guitar weaving. There's no plan." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • This isn't about a specific woman. Most women in Stones' songs are composites of many.
  • A live version from their 1981 US tour was used as the B-side of their "Going To A Go-Go" single.
  • A beast of burden is an animal that labors for the benefit of man, like an ox or a pack mule.
  • Keith Richards wrote this, but a lot of the lyrics were improvised in the studio. While the band played, Jagger came in with different lines to fit the music. As a result, some of the lyrics are less than meaningful and a little repetitious.
  • This song could be allegorical - it was written by Keith as a kind of homage to Mick for having to carry the band while Keith was strung out on heroin: "All your sickness I can suck it up, throw it all at me, I can shrug it off." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Eric - London, England
  • Bette Midler covered this in 1983. Jagger appeared in the video.
  • The Chinese ministry of culture ordered The Stones not to play this when they performed there in 2003. It was going to be the first time The Stones played in China, but they canceled because of a respiratory disease that was spreading through the country.
  • Whilst Richards spent much of the '70s insulating himself with drugs, former London School of Economics student Jagger was running the band. However, by the time of Some Girls, Richards wanted to share the workload. Mojo magazine January 2012 asked Richards how much this song was about his relationship with Jagger? He replied; "Mick wrote a lot of it but I laid the general idea on him. At the time Mick was getting used to running the band. Charlie was just the drummer, I was just the other guitar player. I was trying to say, 'OK I'm back, so let's share a bit more of the power, share the weight, brother."
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 37

  • George from Vancouver, CanadaIt starts off & goes the whole song, with the singer denying himself to be a beast of burden; then it ends with him saying he doesn't want her to be a beast of burden; so this song is basically saying, "Let's live our lives on welfare, never working; & we'll live n a pigsty, because neither of us is going to do chores either?
  • Ashley from TennesseeIs there a live recording where bette sang with the rolling stones? I thought there was a version of the song where they really rocked it together.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 7th 1978, the Rolling Stones performed "Beast of Burden" on the NBC-TV program 'Saturday Night Live'...
    At the time the song was at #27 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; twenty-nine days later on November 5th, 1978 it peaked at #8 {for 1 week} and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    Was track four of side two from the group's fourteen studio album, 'Some Girls', and on July 9th, 1978 the album peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart {it also reached #1 on the Canadian RPM Albums chart}...
    Two other tracks from the album also made the Top 100 chart; "Miss You" {#1 for 1 week} and "Shattered" {#31}...
    In 1983 Bette Midler covered "Beast of Burden"; her version reached #71 on the Top 100 chart.
  • Larry from Detroit, MiActually the original opening line in this song was "I'll Never Leave You're Pizza Burnin"....
  • Karlin from Nelson, BcIt is one of the best ever songs. I have been trying to play the opening riff on piano, and when I finally saw it, the way the bass goes down and the chords change over it is just beautifull.
    Thx to Brick [above] - that makes perfect sense, Keith wrote it for his wife...

    And I think Mick sings it like he really feels this song, it is real to him
  • Britt from Boston, MaI can't stop listening to this song. It's one of my favorites by the Stones.
  • Andrew from The Seas Of Cheese, CaThis song is soooo amazing, I got it on two differant compilations
  • Sean from Altoona, WiI hear a laugh by Mick Jagger in the song. What do you think that is about folks?
  • David from Orlando, FlOne of the few Stones tunes in which there truly are 3 guitars weaving. On many others where Mick picks up a guitar in concert it is really a stage prop or turned down with the volume so low as to be meaningless. On this tune, Mick's guitar is an integral part of the sound. Also a tune that really works well for Ronnie Wood's style of playing, as opposed to some of the Mick Taylor era tunes which are not really suited for Ronnie's style which is more interactive and less stand alone solo than Taylor.
  • Chris from Atlanta, GaOne of my best friend owned a copy of the LP this song was released on. And he said that a line of this song read " I'm so confused I could suck a dick". Mick disguises this somewhat,but if you know what he is saying,it is pretty clear...for the record,I have never personally seen the LP lyrics,but why would my friend lie about that.
  • Scott from Macon, ScI swear I used to hear "I could suck a d!ck" instead of "suck it up". Haha, now I keep hearing "suck a duck" Hmm..Whatever?
  • Nicole from Chicago, IlMy favorite part of the song is the two verses between "You can put me out on the street, Put me out with no shoes on my feet...All your sickness I can suck it up...There's one thing that I don't understand You keep on telling me I ain't your kind of man"
    That whole part is really good, because of the play on words for "put me out" (on the streets/out of misery) and how he can handle any physical pain, but not the pain she gives him.
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaYears recording BEAST OF BURDEN, when the Stones recorded the "Steel Wheels" album, they kept reworking the song ALMOST HEAR YOU SIGH because Keith felt it sounded too much like BEAST OF BURDEN.
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaThe 8-track-tape version of SOME GIRLS has an alternate version of this song. I had someone record it onto a cassette for me in an internet trade, and I'm glad I tracked it down. It has some different lyrics and Mick coos more during the fadeout.
  • James from Gettysburg, PaSal from NYC is right, it IS relaxing. It helped me through my big breakup and my Dad always said it's his favorite Stones song, now I see why
  • Darrell from EugeneMarc in Vancouver, Canada, "Christine" was a 1958 Plymouth Fury that was really more like a Belvedere. "Beast of Burden" was the last song that the bad guys listened to in their 1968 Camaro before Christine killed them in the gas-station fire. I am probably one of the biggest fans of Christine, especially since I have license plates with the number "CQB241" from 30 states at home, including fake plastic 1956 California "Christine" plates for the fronts of red-and-white 1957 and 1958 Plymouths.
  • R from Montreal, Qc, CanadaA really good one. Slow rythmin, pause between chords; superb drum by Charlie.
    I play that one every week on guitar; lovely tune to play.
  • John from Houston, TxWhat a tune. The greatest R and R band at their greatest.
  • Bram from Zoetermeer, NetherlandsVery good song, and although I would have loved it to hear Keith singit, Mick sings it very nice I must say.
  • Ethan from Portland, Orfantastic song. fan - tas -tic.
  • Marc from Vancouver, CanadaThis song was in the movie "Christine" (1983) by Stephen King. It was about a high school nerd who buys a 1957 Plymoth Fury, but the car has a mind of it's own.
  • J L from Sevilla, SpainRichards stated in some interview that this song was, along with "Gimme Shelter" and "Make no Mistake" (from his solo record "Talk is cheap") was one of the rare ocasions in which all the song structure (intro-verse-chorus) came all together at once, with no need to ensemble different random bits. You can feel that organic vibe all along the song.
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaI dig the off beat Watts does on the snare about every 4th measure.
  • Brick Bradford from L.a., CaThis song was written by Keith about his then wife Anita Pallenberg who was also a heroin addict. When Keith got clean in the late 70's, Anita kept using and she got the boot.
  • Cheb from Losangelas, NhPearl Jam did a cover of this song, but many of the lyrics are different.
  • Maya from Cal, United Statesi love this song.. jagger's vpice and the guitars just seem to blend together so well.. .
  • Suzi from Charleston , Sclaid back relaxing song you can just sing to.
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThe most common misheard lyric was "Don't ever leave your pizza burning" instead of "I'll never be your Beast of Burden."
  • Mark from Philadelphia, PaMy all time favorite Stones song. It's so mellow and relaxed. I love to just cruise around listening to it, it's the perfect slow cruise song.
  • Amanda from New York City, Nythe lyrics to this song are phenominal. i actually feel like keith richards is threatened by this woman, she makes him feel insecure. its as though he is trying to convince himself that she isn't above him, he's trying to act tough. but then, he is asking her if he is "rich enough", "tough enough" etc. i just love it.
  • Kevin from Canada, CanadaThis si my favorite Stones song to perform. The riff is awesome. The girls love it. If you can sing it like Mick Jagger the reaction is always good. And the best part is the girls always dance.
  • Dave from London , CanadaKeith brought this to the SG sessions. It's all his.
  • Britt from Foutain Valley, Camy favortie song by the rolling stones. brilliant!
  • Sal from Ny, Nythis song is so relaxing somehow, can someobyd tell me why they were not allowed to play it in china? and i do'nt listen to the stones that often because of their whole sexist crap, but i love this song anyway
  • Tyler from Buffalo, NyIts about a member from the Stones falling in love with a girl, but the girl not feeling the same way as he does,and him exepting that...listen to the lyrics
  • Ty from Niagara Falls, CanadaVery catchy and uplifiting song, but relaxed. Often used by the Stones to take a bit of breather between faster numbers when performing live.
  • Chelsea from Nyc, OrThis tune was performed in the great episode of SNL that featured the Stones in 1978.
see more comments

Does Jimmy Page Worship The Devil? A Look at Satanism in RockSong Writing

We ring the Hell's Bells to see what songs and rockers are sincere in their Satanism, and how much of it is an act.

Al KooperSongwriter Interviews

Kooper produced Lynyrd Skynyrd, played with Dylan and the Stones, and formed BS&T.

Which Songs are About Drugs?Fact or Fiction

"25 or 6 to 4" to "Semi-Charmed Life" - see if you can spot the songs that are really about drugs.

Randy NewmanSongwriting Legends In Their Own Words

Newman makes it look easy these days, but in this 1974 interview, he reveals the paranoia and pressures that made him yearn for his old 9-5 job.

Don FelderSongwriter Interviews

Don breaks down "Hotel California" and other songs he wrote as a member of the Eagles. Now we know where the "warm smell of colitas" came from.

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?