"Memo From Turner" as written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards....
Didn't I see you down in San Antone on a hot and dusty night?
We were eating eggs in Sammy's when the black man there drew his knife

Aw, you drowned that Jew in Rampton as he washed his sleeveless shirt
You know, that Spanish-speaking gentlemen the one we all called Kurt

Come now, gentleman, I know there's some mistake
How forgetful I'm becoming now you fixed your business straight

I remember you in Hemlock Road in nineteen fifty-six
You're a faggy little leather boy with a smaller piece of stick

You're a lashing, smashing hunk of man your sweat shines sweet and strong
Your organs working perfectly but there's a part that's not screwed on

Weren't you at the Coke convention back on nineteen sixty-five?
You're the misbred, gray executive I've seen heavily advertised

You're the great, gray man whose daughter licks policemen's buttons clean
You're the man who squats behind the man who works the soft machine

Come now, gentleman your love is all I crave
You'll still be in the circus when I'm laughing, laughing in my grave

When the old men do the fighting and the young men all look on
And the young girls eat their mothers meat from tubes of plasticon

Be wary of these my gentle friends of all the skins you breed
They have a tasty habit they eat the hands that bleed

So remember who you say you are and keep your noses clean
Boys will be boys and play with toys so be strong with your beast

Oh Rosie dear, don'tcha think it's queer so stop me if you please
The baby is dead, my lady said, "You gentlemen, why, you all work for me"


Lyrics submitted by heyjude55

"Memo from Turner" as written by Mick Jagger Keith Richards

Lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc.

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Memo From Turner song meanings
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  • +2
    My Interpretationyoutube.com/…

    It was made in 1968, but release was delayed until 1970 by movie execs shocked and concerned about how the public would react to this graphic essay in sex, drugs, rock and roll and violence, Complicating matters, throughout the 1969 US tour, the Stones had become a magnet for the tabloid press culminating in the Altamont speedway incident in December 1969.

    There's never really a good time to release a film like Performance. It is a film about identity, what we choose to show, what’s behind the masks we wear and what happens when we lose control. Mick as Turner shows the ways in which it can be exploited in both directions.

    (the song video music track, as I understand, features Jagger, Ry Cooder on slide guitar, Russ Titelman (guitar), Randy Newman (piano), Jerry Scheff (bass) and Gene Parsons (drums) The best version of it, in my opinion, appears on the Stones' "London Years" retrospective. It may be one of the most amazing things ever recorded)

    We are seeing Turner after he has "traded places" with an underworld mobster. In the context of the film, Turner is an aging rockstar, whose lifestyle was consumed by excess and he is attracted to the idea of playing the part of a mobster, who has far more prosaic reasons to need to disappear into another identity; that of an aging rockstar hermit in hiding from the press. Mick's clean cut, suit-wearing Turner now realizes that the underworld of crime, like politics and show business, is populated with people very much like him, except his awareness of their secret backgrounds and his willingness to use it as a means of control gives him incredible power, out of the reach of anybody who has anything to hide.

    Remember, this film was shot in 1968, not long after the release of Sgt Pepper's, and it was that world Mick had in mind. Where at a club like "Sammies", while "eating eggs" one might see underworld figures, politicians, actors, musicians and even perhaps, Brian Epstein, rubbing shoulders.

    Turner surveys his new cohort, and one by one confronts them with his knowledge of their past. The second stanza refers to Rampton, a psychiatric hospital, where Turner is apparently aware the man in front of him was once a patient who killed a doctor. In those days, the field of psychiatry in England was bigotedly referred by the underclass to as a "Jewish" profession and the reference to "sleeveless shirt" carries double meaning as both a straitjacket and the actual sleeveless shirt worn on sabbath by orthodox observers of the Jewish faith.

    "Come now, Gentlemen..." He mocks the straight laced and upstanding members of society they have apparently become. He snarls in to the climactic "set your business STRAIGHT", sarcastically suggesting they have covered their own homosexuality and violent deviance into normal and straight looking executive "skins".

    He confronts the smaller sticked man from Hemlock Road, a reference to a rest stop location on the road from London to Oxford notorious for casual encounters. Hemlock Road also doubles for a reference to Socrates, whose refusal to deny his sexual identity led to suicide by Hemlock, and also the historical relationship of academia with homosexuality in a general sense.

    From here, I think the poster MikeyMike111's comments are right on point, and rather than paraphrase, I'll quote:

    "The dominant theme is, of course, one of homosexuality. I think it may be the first time in popular culture where gayness is linked not with effeminacy but with an overt masculine sexuality. For examply the same year that Performance was released The Boys in the Band showed us a selection of campy self-hating drama queens. Also the line "the young girls eat their mother's meat from tubes of plasticon" is the kind of queasily sexual/violent image you'd find in William Burroughs. Also, just remembered that there is indeed a Burrough's book called The Soft Machine.

    I suppose the song, and the film Performance, were informed at some level by the fact of Reggie Kray's sexuality and the fact that an incredibly masculine (in fact psychotic) man could be gay."

    The only think I really can add to that is the theme transcends homosexuality in important ways in addition to those accurate points. Consider this stanza:

    Be wary of these my gentle friends
    Of all the skins you breed
    They have a tasty habit
    They eat the hands that bleed

    Turner expresses a total ambivalence as to whatever their deviance does: Sex, Drugs, Violence. He doesn't care, won't judge, and will in fact participate if it's "wrong" enough. Turner will make you take your clothes off and have sex with him just to assert his dominance, and create something that can be used to control you. He tells them "Just make a face and an identity where the need to gratify your urges can't also be your undoing if you are exposed." Ironically, being a rock star, where deviance is in fact expected of a public personality, would be a better cover for these "misbred grey executives."

    My main point is that Turner's moral ambivalence goes far beyond any simple "it's about gay" interpretation, and extends to all forms of social identities as somehow being crude coverings for the dark primal secrets we all keep inside. The urges are not just sexual. I don't want to freak you guys out but I'll leave you with this: the "Rosie" and "Baby's Dead" lines in the last stanza refer to book Rosemary's Baby (movie also made in '68). Yeah. So if Rosemary's baby is dead and they all work for him, who is he? Yep. Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste...
    dblentendron March 27, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThere's a different version on the Metamorphosis album with different lyrics.
    Tom_And_Jerryon October 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentone of the most mysterious songs by the stones .also one of the best slide guitar songs of all time. Some say it isnt a true rolling stone song because richards didnt play on it but it is very characteristic of the style and tone of the stones at that time.there is about 4 versions of this song all unique and good.I cant deny that there is homoerotic undertones in this song . Nasty ones to . It has a violent and agressive nature to it. the Idea of organized crime and corrupt police . Using sex as a form of agression and control is a common theme of the stones(midnight rambler ,brown sugar) but why are men and not woman subjugated in this song. Maybe this is why its not a radio hit when the stones where spitting out hits every other day at this time.
    mattcrowleyon November 26, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyou guys, this songs good
    heyjude55on April 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPerhaps Jagger's finest song, but what does it all mean?
    Looking round the net it seems that for some prayer rituals orthodox Jews wear a religious garment which can be described as a sleevless shirt. The writer goes on to say that describing the man as 'Spanish speaking' is a reference to the Jews' exile from Spain in, I think, the middle ages. Though why he has a German-sounding name like Kurt isn't explained.
    The dominant theme is, of course, one of homosexuality. I think it may be the first time in popular culture where gayness is linked not with effeminacy but with an overt masculine sexuality. For examply the same year that Performance was released The Boys in the Band showed us a selection of campy self-hating drama queens. Also the line "the young girls eat their mother's meat from tubes of plasticon" is the kind of queasily sexual/violent image you'd find in William Burroughs. Also, just remembered that there is indeed a Burrough's book called The Soft Machine.
    I suppose the song, and the film Performance, were informed at some level by the fact of Reggie Kray's sexuality and the fact that an incredibly masculine (in fact psychotic) man could be gay.
    Mikeymike111on April 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentnice interp. i had no clue, my fav line was "Your organs working perfectly, but there's a part that's not screwed on." But shit this song is soo damn UNDERrated
    heyjude55on April 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOnly a true Stones' fan knows and appreciates this song...it's sad that Keith didn't play on this!! "Glam Rock" before that term ever existed.
    hemlockroadon March 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's as if queen was singing desolation row on smack. bizarre and great.
    orphan_yachtson May 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's as if queen was singing desolation row on smack. bizarre and great.
    orphan_yachtson May 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbest Stones song ever.
    Heckletonon January 15, 2008   Link

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