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Music / Tattoo You

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"If you start me up, I'll never stop!"

Tattoo You is the sixteenth studio album (eighteenth American album) by The Rolling Stones, released in 1981. Curiously for such a successful and popular record, it was largely a happy accident; the Stones had planned a large-scale American tour for the summer of 1981, to be followed by a European leg the next year. Tattoo You was assembled largely from discarded songs and old out-takes so the band would have a product for the tour to promote.

It is most famous for the classic hit "Start Me Up" (which has its roots as a reggae song called "Never Stop", written during the Some Girls sessions). It is also their last studio album to reach #1 on the US charts.

To celebrate the album's 40th anniversary in 2021, a Super Deluxe edition featuring further out-takes and a live disc of a 1982 concert at Wembley Stadium was released.


Side One

  1. "Start Me Up" (3:31)
  2. "Hang Fire" (2:20)
  3. "Slave" (4:59) note 
  4. "Little T&A" (3:23)
  5. "Black Limousine" (3:32)
  6. "Neighbours" (3:31)

Side Two

  1. "Worried About You" (5:16)
  2. "Tops" (3:45)
  3. "Heaven" (4:21)
  4. "No Use in Crying" (3:24)
  5. "Waiting on a Friend" (4:34)

Super Deluxe edition bonus tracks

  1. "Living in the Heart Love" (4:13)
  2. "Fiji Jim" (4:00)
  3. "Troubles A' Comin" (4:16)
  4. "Shame, Shame, Shame" (4:13)
  5. "Drift Away" (4:06)
  6. "It's a Lie" (4:57)
  7. "Come to the Ball (3:40)
  8. "Fast Talking, Slow Walking" (5:40)
  9. "Start Me Up (Early Version)" (4:10)

Principal Members:

Waiting on a Trope:

  • Album Filler: Technically this entire album could be seen as filler, as a lot of the tracks were out-takes and leftovers from older recordings. But artistically and commercially the record was a smash success, often seen as the Stones' last classic album.
  • Break Up Song:
    • "No Use in Crying"
    Ain't no use in crying
    Stay away from me
    Ain't no use
    Standing at the station
    Gazing down the track
    There ain't no train coming baby
    I ain't never, never coming back
    • "Worried About You"
    Just like your burned out cigarette
    You threw away my love
    Why did you do that baby?
    I wonder why, why you do these things to me?
  • Casting Couch: "Tops"
    Your such a natural you don't need no acting school
    Don't need no casting couch
    Or be a star in bed
    Never, never, never let success go to you pretty head
    Cause I'll take you to the top, baby
  • Cranky Neighbor: "Neighbours"
    Ladies, have I got crazies?
    Screaming young babies
    No piece and no quiet
    I got T.V.'s, saxophone playing
    Groaning and straining
    With the trouble and strife
    Is it any wonder
    Is it any wonder
    Is it any wonder
    That we fuss and fight?
    Neighbours, do unto strangers
    Do unto neighbours
    What you do to yourself, yourself, yourself
  • Downer Ending: "Black Limousine"
    We used to shine, shine, shine, shine
    Say what a pair, say what a team
    We used to ride, ride, ride, ride
    In a long black limousine
    Those dreams are gone baby
    Locked away and never seen
    Well now look at your face now baby
    Look at you and look at me
  • Isn't It Ironic?: "Start Me Up" was famously used by Microsoft for the Windows 95 launch. The lyrics include the well-known refrain "You make a grown man cry." Anyone who used Windows 95 would find that line very apt...
    • A popular urban legend states that Mick Jagger ran into Bill Gates at a party, quoted him an enormously inflated price as a joke... and Gates wrote him a check on the spot.
    • "Start Me Up" is now being used by Toyota. One has to wonder if "Start me up / I'll never stop" is really the right kind of lyrics for a car company that had a problem with their cars accelerating and not stopping because of a pedal defect.
    • The line "I can't compete..." also seemed appropriate as Microsoft got accusations of monopolization.
  • Lazy Bum: "Hang Fire"
    You know marrying money is a full time job
    I don't need the aggravation
    I'm a lazy slob
  • Lust Object: "Little T&A"
    She's my little rock 'n' roll
    My tits and ass with soul baby
  • Made a Slave: "Slave"
    Don't wanna be your slave
    24 hours a day
    Hey, why don't you go down to the supermarket?
    Get something to eat, steal something of the shelves
  • Misogyny Song: "Little T&A", reducing a partner to just tits and ass.
    But the bitch keeps bitching
    Snitcher keeps snitching
    Dropping names and telephone numbers and all, well
  • One-Word Title: "Slave", "Business", "Tops" and "Heaven".
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Start Me Up"
    Start it up
    If you start it up
    Kick on the starter give it all you got, you got, you got
  • The Power of Friendship: "Waiting on a Friend"
    Don't need a whore
    I don't need no booze
    Don't need a virgin priest
    But I need someone I can cry to
    I need someone to protect
    Making love and breaking hearts
    It is a game for youth
    But I'm not waiting on a lady
    I'm just waiting on a friend
  • Protest Song: "Hang Fire", which address the unemployment in England under Margaret Thatcher. Interestingly enough the song wasn't released on single in England.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Manhattan apartment house seen in the music video for "Waiting on a Friend" is the same one shown on the cover of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti. In the video we also see reggae musician Peter Tosh in a cameo.
    • The Simpsons: In "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation" Homer enlists in a rock summer camp lead by various famous rock stars. The intro to "Start Me Up" is played by Keith Richards when he and Mick Jagger first make their appearance.
  • Special Guest: Jazz great Sonny Rollins plays saxophone on "Waiting on a Friend".
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Slave" and "Tops" feature a spoken word section.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Keith Richards sings lead on "Little T&A".