Album: Out of Our Heads (U.S.)
. . .
While Mick Jagger songs about his sexual exploits would become commonplace in later years, “The Spider and The Fly” is probably the first time he told such an explicit story about a specific conquest. It wouldn’t be the last.
A slow blues that almost dips into country, “The Spider and The Fly” was yet another example of just how assured the Rolling Stones had become, as it takes its sweet time from the very start.
Opening with Keith and Brian’s guitars practicing the ancient form of weaving over a slow groove set up by Charlie and Bill, “The Spider and The Fly” features a guitar/harmonica duel between Keith and Mick before a single lyric is sung.
Sitting, thinking, sinking, drinking
Wondering what I’d do when I’m through tonight
Smoking moping, maybe just hoping
Some little girl will pass on by
Don’t want to be alone but I love my girl at home
I remember what she said
She said, “My, my, my don’t tell lies, keep fidelity in your head”
“My my my, don’t tell lies, When you’re done you should go to bed”
“Don’t say hi, like a spider to a fly”
“Jump right ahead and you’re dead”
Mick sings all of this laconically, matter-of-factly, humble-bragging through each and every line. Because you know he was inwardly rolling his eyes at the lecture, because he knew who he was, she knew who he was and he knew she know who he was. And so his story unfolds with a slow inevitability.
Sit up, fed up, low down go round
Down to the bar at the place I’m at
Sitting drinking, superficially thinking
About the rinsed-out blonde on my left
Then I said, “hi”, like a spider to a fly
Remembering what my little girl said
As the verse progresses, you can hear Mick kinda getting into his story, like he’s recounting it to a bunch of his friends, and the way he sings “hi” is fucking hilarious. This is followed by a long spidery lead from Keith that first winds around itself, with a helpful drum roll from Charlie and eventually comes close to the melody of the song. All of which sets up the final verse.
She was common, flirty, she looked about thirty
I would have run away but I was on my own
She told me later she’s a machine operator
She said she liked the way I held the microphone
Then I said hi like a spider to a fly
Jump right ahead in my web
While there is probably hay to be made by the fact that the woman in question was a few years older than Mick — and when they did it for Stripped in 1995, she was an age-appropriate fifty — but the part I love is the time jump of “she told me later she’s a machine operator,” followed by the single entendre “she said she liked the way I held the mi-cro-phone” winking at us just in case we didn’t know what he meant. But we do, Mick, we do.
Anyways, that’s followed by one last Mick harmonica solo, which takes “The Spider and The Fly” to its conclusion, everybody if not satisfied, at least with a story to tell.
In the U.S., “The Spider and The Fly” was the next to last song on Out of Our Heads, but in the U.K, it was the b-side of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and not released on an album there until the early 1970s.
“The Spider and The Fly” official lyric video
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