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Can’t You Hear Me Knocking: Mick Jagger’s Balls and the History of Rock & Roll

October 14, 2011

In 2012 The Rolling Stones will celebrate their 50th anniversary, an astonishing achievement. As we approach this unprecedented milestone, we would like to acknowledge the song writing team that penned some of the band’s greatest hits. No, not Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. We’re talking about Mick Jagger’s balls, the true, unheralded creative force behind “the greatest rock & roll band in the world.” Herewith, a helpful discography:

 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Music grammarians made much of this popular Stones song’s lyrics upon its release as a single in 1965, pointing out the use of the English colloquial double negative resolving to a negative in the song’s title. In truth, Jagger’s balls were being tongue-in-cheek. They meant for the negatives to cancel one another out, resulting in a positive. “Of course we can get satisfaction, you silly twit!” they shouted at a particularly comely, young female journalist, interviewing Jagger for the British music magazine Melody Maker.  “We can’t not get it anytime we want! ‘Losing streak,’ our arse! We’re bloody Mick Jagger’s balls! Let’s have a bang then, shall we?”

Paint It, Black

Official liner notes attribute writing credit for the dark 1966 hit Paint It, Black to Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, but true rock insiders know that Jagger’s balls did all the heavy lifting. The titular “It” refers not to any “red door,” as famously noted in the lyrics; “It” was actually Jagger’s willy, getting far too much of the world’s attention and fomenting discontent for other members of the band inside his pants.

Let’s Spend The Night Together

In what may be the nadir of rock star narcissism, Jagger’s balls cast caution and biological imperative to the wind and fell madly in love with one another in 1967, entering a brief, torrid affair that inspired this sexually forward anthem and gave new meaning to the phrase “jumping in the sac.” Their respective roles in the relationship were never clearly sorted out or agreed upon, and the frisson of new romance quickly wore off when the right ball became jealous over the left ball’s subsequent flirtation with David Bowie. 

Sympathy For The Devil

Satanic rituals, devil worship, soul corruption? None of the above. Jagger’s balls had merely drunken too much whiskey and went off on a bombastic tirade claiming responsibility for all mankind’s atrocities. Mick, all the while sleeping like a baby, awoke to find the lyrics to this 1968 hit scrawled in blood on the walls of his London flat, along with mysterious exhortations to “mind the bollocks,” and “don’t forget to pick up milk on your way home.”

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

The ubiquity of this 1969 Stones hit is owed to the common misconception that Jagger and Co. were sharing some nugget of sage wisdom with listeners, some pure and simple, Zen-like maxim that might open our eyes to truth and beauty and fundamentally transform our innate greed to beneficence and generosity. Not so fast, Grasshopper. In truth, Jagger’s balls were singing to him. The thing Mick wanted was BIGGER balls, to which his balls were all, like, “uh, no. You get what you need.” According to inside sources, Jagger even consulted a physician about the possibility of surgical enhancement. The physician’s assistant, Angela Merkin, R.N., famously managed to distract him from the idea with little more than a rubber glove and a whiff of nitrous oxide, so inspiring another Stone’s classic, 1973’s Angie, renamed from its original, working title, Turn Your Head And Cough.

Gimme Shelter

From the seminal 1969 album Let It Bleed, Jagger’s balls wrote this tune after participating in a traditional “ice swim” while on tour in Helsinki, Finland. Mick’s cremaster muscle contracted so vigorously his testicles were rumored to have ended up in his throat. Band mates Keith Richards and Bill Wyman came to the rescue by fashioning a makeshift “Jaws of Life” out of available utensils from a caterer’s food preparation cart.

Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?

Mick Jagger was a childlike 28 years old when this song was released, on 1971’s Sticky Fingers. “Childlike” like an adult who does scads of illegal drugs and consorts licentiously with star struck groupies. It therefore came as something of a “Gordon Bennett” when Jagger one day discovered the starch let out of his shorts and his knackers, overtaxed and thoroughly depleted, drooping lower than an old codger’s on a hot, summer day. “Banging against his knobby knees, they sounded like castanets,” observed Keith Richards. Turning a bad situation to their advantage, Jagger’s balls briefly teamed up with Charlie Watts, who played off their syncopated rhythms as if they were a second drummer.

Brown Sugar

Jagger’s balls were at the forefront of the civil rights movement, about three feet further forward than Mick himself, which made for an unusual spectacle during marches. Unfortunately, one would never know that from the racially tinged lyrics of this controversial 1971 hit. “Slavery and cunnilingus are metaphors for freedom,” Jagger’s balls would later answer critics, somewhat obtusely. “Stupid wankers.”


“Laughter, joy and loneliness

And sex and sex and sex and sex

And look at me! I’m in tatters!

I’m all shattered, shattered.”

After nearly two decades of abuse, Jagger’s balls were clearly crying out for mercy. Help came from their close friends, famed film auteur and New York City mainstay Woody Allen’s balls, who referred them to a notable Freudian psychoanalyst. The lyrics from this 1978 song were lifted almost verbatim from transcripts recorded during their subsequent treatment for anxiety and depression. Through rigorous therapy they discovered that the problem wasn’t New York or the rock & roll lifestyle per se; the problem was Disco. Having sorted that out, Jagger’s balls were given a clean bill of health, a pat on the back, and a whopping large medical bill that took the proceeds from several hastily assembled Greatest Hits compilations to pay.

Start Me Up

With the release of 1981’s Tattoo You, Jagger’s balls were ready to throw in the towel. Tired of the constant touring and increasingly unhappy about misattributed songwriting credits, they took a cue from former band mates Brian Jones and Mick Taylor and announced their resignation from the band. Start Me Up was their swan song, a final huff of good old fashioned strutting bravado made all the more ironic since even a 12-volt battery and set of jumper cables couldn’t start Jagger’s balls at this, the twilight of their career. They retired to a chateau in the south of France where they live to this day, sipping tea, puttering in the gardens, patiently awaiting their proper recognition and gold-plated enshrinement in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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