What does You Can't Always Get What You Want mean?

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The Rolling Stones: You Can't Always Get What You Want Meaning

Tagged: Fame [suggest]

Song Released: 1973


Covered By: Glee Cast


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You Can't Always Get What You Want Lyrics

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I saw her today at a reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she would meet her connection
At her feet was her footloose man

No, you can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    housecat
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    Jun 30th, 2009 6:24pm report


    I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
    To get your prescription filled
    I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
    And man, did he look pretty ill
    We decided that we would have a soda
    My favorite flavor, cherry red

    He's referring to methadone (OBVIOUSLY) which is something that heroine users take if they're trying to quit heroine. If you go off heroine you get really sick, so methadone basically keeps you from getting sick without making you stoned. They mix it with juice because it tastes like shit, and you can get it in all kinds of flavors, one being cherry red. Mr. Jimmy looked pretty ill because he hadn't had his heroine lately and was trying to get some methadone, but he didn't have a prescription. Hence Mcjagger singing "I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
    Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was dead
    I said to him You can't always get what you want"

    "I saw her today at the reception
    In her glass was a bleeding man
    She was practiced at the art of deception
    Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands"


    'her' is either two things. A heroine dealer, or death. It could be a heroine dealer in that heroine dealers usually shoot up their customers for them, and in doing so might get some blood on their hands. Or it could be referring to death in that she has taken another victim who died of a heroine overdose.



  2.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 14th, 8:24pm report


    Most rock lyrics are a Rorschach for the public to chew on and out comes their inner physche. So sad this business of addiction and its attraction. It is a testament to the empty and/or pain filled souls that walk this beautiful earth. We are what we make our existence to be. Given how short it actually is, what a shame to waste a second of it.



  3.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 4th, 2014 8:56pm report


    I don't have an interpretation but rather a problem with this song. I have two versions of it. Don't ask me how I got them but I do. One version is the one everyone knows, with the Choir singing at the beginning ect. The other version is also with the Choir at the beginning but then instead of hearing the guitar intro, Jagger starts singing alone with no backup music

    "Well, I saw her today at the reception
    A glass of wine in her hand
    I knew she would go meet her connection
    At her feet was her footloose man

    No, you can't always get what you want
    aaaahhwaw
    No, you can't always get what you want
    aaaahhwaw
    No, you can't always get what you want
    aaaahhwaw
    But if you try sometime, you just might find
    You get what you need".....

    Then the band kicks in. Then when he gets to the lyrics

    "And I went down to the Chelsea drugstore...."
    Instead of saying..

    "And he said one word back to me, that was "Dead"
    AND I SAID TO HIM....

    He sais in this version..

    AND I SAID NIGGA......

    Anyone have any comments. Can't find anything on the internet about two versions of the song but I clearly have 2!!



  4.  

    anonymous
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    May 20th, 2014 5:58am report


    The song was written in 1964. It was done on the heels of the Stones tour through the US for the first time.

    The Band had been playing in a dance hall at an Amusement Park in Excelsior Minnesota. Prior to that they had been at the Medina Ballroom in Medina Mn.
    In Excelsior there was a little drug store called the Chelsea, named after the owner's daughter. During the day, Mick and some of the Stones didn't have anything to do so they would go down to the drug store,and drink Ice Cream sodas.

    There was a local character by the name of Jimmy Hutmaker who Jagger liked and made friends with. This is Mr. Jimmy. On one of the last nights of their appearances there Mick caught a bug and went into the drug store to get a scrip for his cough. Mr. Jimmy was waiting for a prescription too, and that's where the lines come from. They have absolutely nothing to do with methadone, heroin, or any other drug.

    How do I know this? I had a lot of relatives that worked at the Park.



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 17th, 2013 12:51pm report


    He's talking about jimi hendrix and janis joplin in this.



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 27th, 2013 7:11am report


    Song is about three topics of the sixties and how people at the time were looking toward extremes but mostly had to settle for they needed.

    The girl at the reception was a manipulative superficial groupie who usually had to settle for roadies

    The demonstration was not stopping the war but it was putting pressure on Wash, DC a little at a time

    The drug store was a hang-out for junkies hoping for a fix but that night jimmy had to settle for cola mixed with codeine cough syrup to stave off withdrawals



  7.  

    caredoc
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    Jul 12th, 2012 7:41pm report


    By the way, I did go to the real Chelsea Drugstore in London last summer and it is now a McDonalds. So, I guess the Brits really did get what they need... a big American fast food store serving bad food and taking their cash back to the US. Paybacks are a bitch King Charles.



  8.  

    caredoc
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    Jul 12th, 2012 7:36pm report


    Well the theme of the entire song is something that is common to all humans. Our dissatisfaction with our lives and our need to detach from what we think we want and what we really, really need. This theme is repeated not only once but the infinite magical 7 times if you include the interlude of the angelic choir.
    The lyrics in between this central theme just point to the art of deception of our worldly aspirations of power(the demonstration) and pleasure (the lady waiting to make her drug connection). The footloose man at her feet signifies the only person who is actually free. The footloose man is actually someone who is free from these delusion and able to make a free decision. But why is he at the foot of this deceptive lady? It is because, the only way to be free from these delusion of what we think we want, and what we really need is to be at the foot of mankind and serve. The delusion is that freedom is doing what ever we want when the real truth is that freedom is doing what we really need to do for each other which is to serve.



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 27th, 2011 10:51pm report


    I see the woman in the song as a needle, and also in a more metaphorical meaning, as dealers/heroin/addiction in general. At the beginning, she has wine (heroin) in her glass (barrel of the needle) and a footlose man at her feet. Something stuck me about footlose, but even more powerful was the lyric "at her feet". That's not a partner or someone equal to her, and I can also imagine a user wanting heroin as animated and footloose, as if saying, "give it to me give it to me". Mick KNOWS she's going to make her connection (the deal, or injection). Later in the song, she has a man in her glass (no longer wine, she's drawn some of his blood, or him, into the barrel), and Mick can tell she's practiced at the art of deception (not keeping promises of euphoria) by her "blood stained hands", or the point of the needle.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 5th, 2011 2:27pm report


    The song's 3 verses all refer to the 3 social topics of the 60's and Jagger's personal experiences of them:
    LOVE
    POLITICS/CHANGE
    DRUGS/ADDICTION



  11.  

    m320753
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    Jun 16th, 2010 6:34am report


    this song when it first came out i loved it, one night while listening to the song i had what some would say it was drugs some said it was fate. me, i just felt likeit was Divine intervention. anyway every time i played it the song kept pounding at my brain. Hello, is everything okay down there?is any body hurt. the good man up there kept telling me to take what i knew from the song and go with it. later that night my daughter asked for money for a new jacket that was the rage in the early 60s after argueing it hit me like a blast from the river we were talking. soon others found their way to our no more secret clubhouse. my daughter started up again and finally the lyrics showed up in my brain and i said you cant always get what you want, you can't always get what you want but if you try sometime you just might find you got what you need. that was my stock answer repeated to who ever con me over to their sidethe next time my kids would want some other object and i said sure and gave them money to buy what they needed. believe me it works



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 13th, 2010 6:33pm report


    The Chelsea drugstore was a bar in London not an actual store selling drugs,Mr Jimmy is Jimmy Miller, the rolling stones' producer at the time at this time the Stones and Miller used "dead" to refer to something they really liked, so when Jagger sang the original song idea to Miller, his response was "dead"



  13.  

    CPR
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    Dec 4th, 2009 12:37pm report


    I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
    To get your prescription filled
    I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
    And man, did he look pretty ill
    We decided that we would have a soda
    My favorite flavor, cherry red
    I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
    Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was "dead"
    I said to him


    Mick Jagger had almost finished his song when Jimmy Miller (producer) asked Mick to go down to the drugstore to buy some medicines. So he meant what is written.(at least in the last strophe)



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 21st, 2009 11:57pm report


    I am a methadone maintenance patient and I think HouseCat got it 100% right. I also think it's about how in general in life you can't always get what you want, like you might want someone you care about to stop using drugs. The "Chelsea Drugstore" is definitely a drug dispensary, and I think a MMTP is a very good guess.
    The opening of the song after the choir stops, when its just the guitar and the french horn, is so beautiful. I just imagine walking out into the sun across a field and seeing an old friend of mine whos gone now. You can't always get what you want.



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 15th, 2009 3:18pm report


    It also had alot to do with Marianne Faithfull, at this time she was sinking into a much heavier drug use and this was Mick's plea to her to slow down.



  16.  

    anonymous
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    May 8th, 2008 5:21pm report


    Actually Mr. Jimmy refers to the song's producer (Jimmy something, I forget his last name), who filled in on drums after the drummer couldn't master the beat.



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