Album: Some Girls (1978)
Charted: 31


  • The lyrics are a bleak picture of life in New York City. The Stones always had a love/hate relationship with the US, and Mick Jagger's lyrics were often influenced by his thoughts on the country (see "Satisfaction"). New York in particular is a place where you could be wildly successful, but is also a city filled crime, drugs, and poverty. It should be noted that The Stones have taken shots at their home country of England as well, notably on "Hang Fire."
  • The last song on Some Girls. While they were recording this album, Keith Richards had drug charges hanging over his head from a bust in Toronto. Facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, Keith let Mick take control of the album, which is reflected on songs like this. Richards ended up getting off easy - he was sentenced to probation and ordered to play a concert for the blind.
  • Richards came up with the guitar riff on this and the line "Sha-doobie." Jagger wrote the rest.
  • Just after this was released, The Stones performed it on Saturday Night Live. It was not a great performance, as the band had some libations backstage before they went on, but was memorable for Mick Jagger licking Ron Wood on the lips for about 5 seconds. This stuff just didn't happen on TV back them.
  • When Jagger sings, "Shmatta, shmatta, shmatta, I can't give it away on 7th Avenue, this town's been wearing tatters," he's making reference to the fashion district of New York City, which is on 7th Avenue. The word "Shmatta" is slang for old, worn clothing. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 15

  • Anita from WestRegarding the word in the song, 'Shattered', Mick says 'shmackta' NOT 'shmatta'. The next line he says, 'I can't give it away on 7th avenue'. (sex) The preceeding verse he's talking about himself and 'sex, sex, sex and look at me, I been tattered, I'm a shattered'.
    The transcription in the lyrics (tab) here at Songfacts are amateur-ish and someone didn't use headphones OR catch the personal pronouns.
  • Brian from Walingford, CtYet through it all, it is the opening phasey guitar lick that brings you into the song. Mick is great and all ... but Keith is, as they say, they heart and soul of the Stones. I recall Mick playing the intro lick to this on SNL and screwing it up horribly. Anybody find the SNL performance on video?
  • Dejan from Belgrade, SerbiaThe spot is amazing too.
  • Reed from New Ulm, MnYet another great stones song! who doesn't love Mick..? i mean really.
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaMick Jagger said that when he lived in New York City when he wrote this song, the city was particularly a mess because--among other problem--there was a garbage strike, and the city's sidewalks were piled high with uncollected garbage.
  • Ray from Bonneville Salt Flats, Ut"Turn the bass way up on this song, it's truly amazing. Bill Wyman is possibly the best base player ever.
    - Bill, Erie, PA"

    Wyman's bass on this song is great. Not the best in the world, but very, very good in his subtle but rock-solid way. (I'm a bassist myself.) Most polls rank him in the top 50, but behind bassists like Les Claypool, Jack Bruce, Flea, John Paul Jones, Larry Taylor and Phil Lesh.

    The foundation underlying Jagger's lead vocal on this song is an outstanding piece of mixing and synergy.
  • Susan from Roberts Creek, CanadaMy bad. Bertrand didn't quote me verbatim. I went back and looked at what I said, which was put on the site, and it says, "(* Susan Kauffmann writes: "The word "shmatta" is Yiddish for "rag", but is specifically used to refer to old, worn clothing. It evolved to refer to the clothing industry (even high end), thus, if you were involved in the clothing industry, you were in the "shmatta business". Seventh Avenue in Manhatten is the heart of the Fashion district, which is what the song is referring to..." )"
  • Susan from Roberts Creek, CanadaHey, "Bertrand", from Paris, lifted my comment from another site, verbatim! I don't mind being quoted, but one should mention it if you're quoting someone else!
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaOthers credited on this song are "1 Jew, 1 WASP, 1 Moroccan.
  • Mark from Worcester, MiI saw the Stones a couple of years ago. real great seats, but they were a couple hundred bucks...I was friends came too...they were shattered...uh-huh...does it matter? I like this song a lot, and I don't take offense at all. I mean c'mon. Mick Jagger campaining against greed? What's he going to promote next; abstinence? Heh...hey I love the guy and he sounds great, but nobody should take him to seriously. Just my opinion.
  • David from Youngstown, OhOne of the Stones' most underrated songs. The Sha-Doobie part at the end is interesting in that the background vocals goes Sha-Doobie, Shattered at times and Sha-Doobie, Shattered, Shattered at other times. You think you've got the tempo by singing along "Sha-Doobie, Shattered, Sha-Doobie, Shattered, Sha-Doobie, Shattered, Shattered." Then further in the song it changes. And Mick's part at the end while this is going on is just incredible. An absolute classic!

  • Bill from Erie, PaTurn the bass way up on this song, it's truly amazing. Bill Wyman is possibly the best base player ever.
  • Ben from Nyc, MsThis song has a large number of meanings amny of the, pretaning to modern American Society
  • Ace from Kansas City, MoI remember the performance on "Saturday Night Live" like it was yesterday. A bunch of my friends and our girlfriends were watching, and when Mick licked Woody's lips, the girls all shrieked in disgust. I also remember Woody just shaking his head and raising his eyebrows, then carrying on. Mick's voice was so hoarse you could barely understand him. I read some comments by the cast members of the show stating that the band over-rehearsed that week, which accounted for the state of Mick's voice.
  • Simon from Brno, Czech RepublicIn this song Ronnie Wood showed his instrumental skills: he played a bass drum,pedal steel guitar,lead electric guitar and bass. And he sang backing vocals.
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