The Rolling Stones song Mick Jagger called “very strange”

The Rolling Stones have a tendency to explore dark and depraved areas of life throughout their work. The most notable example of this is ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, which finds Mick Jagger taking on the persona of the titular character in the song. Still, there are cuts in their repertoire which delve further into sinister territory.

Despite growing older, The Stones have never been able to let go of their penchant for exploring the murkier side of life. It’s an innate part of their musical personality that will stay with them until their final act as a band. The questionable protagonists in their songs aren’t necessarily supposed to be hero-worshipped, but it does add a menacing element which perfectly aligns with the demonic spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.

Perhaps the darkest song, from a lyrical perspective, in their back catalogue is ‘Flip The Switch’, which appeared on the 1997 album Bridges to Babylon. While the words uttered by Jagger on the track are open for interpretation, it’s clear the narrator finds himself begging for death as he awaits his imminent departure.

While his sins are never made clear in the lyrics, it’s made evident he’s previously committed heinous life decisions, which have left him awaiting a death sentence. However, despite the events which have led to him being in this perilous position, ‘Flip The Switch’ paints a harrowing picture of the thoughts running through the head of an individual on death row.

During an interview, Jagger said of the song: “It’s a very strange lyric, really, about death and about madness and criminality and so on. Quite heavy stuff, really, but it’s a good one. It’s an excellent one to start a record with.”

Some of the most bizarre passages of lyrics include: “I’m not going to burn in hell, I cased the joint, And I know it well, Maybe my carcass, Can feed the worms, I’m working for the other firm.” Additionally, later on the track, Jagger sings: “I got a toothbrush, mouthwash, All that shit, I’m looking down, In the filthy pit, I had the turkey, And the stuffing too, I even saved, A little bit for you.”

The final verse on ‘Flip The Switch’ finds the protagonist begging to be put out of his misery, with The Stones frontman singing, “Lethal injection’s a luxury, I want to give it, To the whole jury, I’m just dying, For one more squeeze.”

While the lyrical theme of ‘Flip The Switch’ is incredibly distressing, The Stones sugarcoated the track with bundles of energy, which enabled it to be a ferocious opening track to their album. Keith Richards placed the track’s brilliance on the shoulders of Charlie Watts, stating: “I can go on and on about him, and everybody else yeah, great, really. But to me the real pleasure is playing with Charlie Watts, who is right on the top of his game. And that makes it much easier for me. Then I can really fly.”

Listen below to ‘Flip The Switch’.

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