"Brown Sugar" as written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards....
Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in the market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he's doin' all right
Hear him whip the women just around midnight

Brown sugar, how come you taste so good
Brown sugar, just like a young girl should

Drums beatin' cold, English blood runs hot
Lady of the house wonderin' when it's gonna stop
House boy knows that he's doin' all right
You should have heard him just around midnight

Brown sugar, how come you taste so good
Brown sugar, just like a young girl should

Brown sugar, how come you dance so good
Brown sugar, just like a black girl should

I bet your mama was a Cajun Queen
And all her boyfriends were sweet sixteen
I'm no school boy but I know what I like
You should have heard them just around midnight

Brown sugar, how come you taste so good
Brown sugar, just like a black girl should

I said, yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
How come you, how come you dance so good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
Just like a, just like a black girl should
Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo

Lyrics submitted by oofus, edited by aiiiiee, Cmananator, force263

"Brown Sugar" as written by Mick Jagger Keith Richards

Lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc.

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Brown Sugar song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentMan, you guys are dense!

    “Gold coast Slave ship”, “Market down in New Orleans”, “Scarred Slave trader is doing all right, you can hear him whip the women, just around midnight”.

    Aint it pretty obvious.

    Probably the Stones most controversial song. Especially for release in America.

    It’s about the practice of slave-rape, that happened a lot in the deep south in America, right up until the 1960s.

    Basically, white slave owners, who raped the young black women they owned.

    The first verse refers to a slave owner raping/abusing a young black women he owns.

    The second verse refers to the white house boy, in an English stately home, getting his sexual gratification from the slaves.

    The last verse is Jagger himself saying, he’s no saint himself, and gets the same gratification from black women, as a white man. Of course, in loving relationships, but as I said, it’s a very very controversial song.

    Basically about white men’s terrible history with black women

    ceej1979on December 03, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt seems kinda silly to me that some of the people posting here are wondering if it's about slavery or at least a metaphor using slavery considering the first lines are "Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields, sold in a market down in New Orleans."

    Anyway, it's hard to know exactly what Mick is getting at. I'm willing to bet he just got a kick out of writing some bizarre lyrics, here. I mean, ok...we've got a slave ship arriving, slaves being sold, white guy having sex with black slaves, his wife being pissed about it but saying nothing, the "house boy" (black servant) who's also apparently banging somebody in the house, and then at the end, Mick in modern times saying something to the effect of "hey, I like black girls!"

    I think the point is that people have always liked black/white sex. Whether it was the slaver presumably forcing it, or the "house boy" who was banging the housewife voluntarily, or Mick in 1970 liking black women.

    The heroin stuff...I dunno about all that. If Mick said heroin had something to do with it, it's probably because he was thinking about things that are somewhat forbidden that people like, but have an ugly side (addiction/rape).
    z4ckm0rrison November 07, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentMick has been asked many times about the lyrics to this song and there are many quotes from him about it. I think it's pretty obvious what the song is generally about, no need to read too much into it. This is a classic example of how there is no grand plan for many song lyrics, they just kind of come together when the songwriter is under a time crunch to record a song.

    There were certainly a few black women in the Stones' world at this time. One of them was the most sought after backup singers during this time, a truly stunning beauty named Claudia Linnear. Marsha Hunt was obviously another, as Mick had a child with her named Karis. Both were undoubtedly inspirations for this song. Maybe there were others.

    Mick has claimed authorship of the opening guitar riff, and Keith has never disputed that. He wrote it while in Australia while filming a movie, but the lyrics were written at various times, mostly in the days leading up to when the Stones recorded the song at the famous Muscle Shoals studio. Mick kind of had the lyrics "Black P***y, how come you taste so good" rolling around in his head already but obviously decided that was a little over the top.

    In one interview Jagger said that the he doesn't remember exactly where all the lyrics came from. Employees from Muscle Shoals recounted that he had a yellow legal pad and was putting things together in the studio. Mick claims that it was the black p***y idea mixed with "rubbish I was into at that time". I think it's pretty clear (or at least likely) that the angle involving slave history in the American South came from the fact that Muscle Shoals is about as deep south as you can get. Think about what Mick was seeing all around him as the time to record the song drew near. In rural Alabama in 1970 (and even today) the impact and residual evidence of slavery would have been impossible to miss.

    So he drew on history, just as he did in Sympathy for the Devil a couple years earlier, and mixed it with the theme of interracial sex that was already the framework of the song.

    One of the "rubbish" things was probably the 'scarred old slaver' line. I always thought for years that lyric sounded forced, but eventually came to the conclusion that it was some expression I had never heard. Turns out the lyric is actually 'Skydog slaver' - Skydog being Duane Allman's nickname at Muscle Shoals (who apparently was high as a kite all the time, a lot even by musician standards). The name cracked Mick up. He liked the way it sounded; Skydog slaver had a nice ring to it, even if it didn't make a damn bit of sense (I don't know why it wasn't listed as that in the official published lyrics - maybe because Allman got wind of it and didn't want to be associated with being a slave owner? Or out of respect, Mick decided to not call out a fellow musician? Who knows).

    I talked about this with a fellow Stones fan and his take was that Mick wouldn't just change a lyric or not know what he wanted to say. But this couldn't be further from the truth. Many lyrics get changed at the last minute for various reasons, and other times they don't mean a thing. Sometimes songwriters have little lines that crack them up and maybe it rhymes, maybe it's an inside joke or whatever. It goes in the song, and the fans think there's some hidden meaning in there. The Beatles (particularly Lennon) did this frequently.

    Lastly, the lyric "I bet your momma was a Cajun Quenn" is totally inaccurate. It's "I bet your momma was a tent show queen". Tent shows were a mixture of a moving theater troupe, opera house, music show...whatever the person who ran it could think of that would entertain people. They were common in the US during the 1800's, particularly in the south. Any place that was too far away from an established theater or similar type of venue would have a tent show come to town every so often. A "tent show queen" could be a lot of different types of people but was a term most commonly reserved for a black female singer who was particularly attractive. This was a key draw at tent shoes, as a way of presenting exotic black sexuality to the masses without being overt about it. So basically what Mick was saying is, girl you're so fine and talented, I bet your momma was just like you back in the day, a tent show queen, driving all the white men in the south crazy.

    If you Google/YouTube Claudia Linnear, you'll get the picture. She could definitely make cold English blood run hot!

    I can't help but think about the backlash an all white band would face in today's silly PC world. The National Association Of Uptight People Who Are Always Offended would demand an apology!
    evrock44on November 20, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSome of the lyrics are wrong. It's, "I bet you mama was a tent show queen". "I'm no school boy but I know what I like, you should have heard me just around midnight".
    archer1203on December 29, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think killingFloor makes a good point...it reminds me of some other Stones songs like "Jumpin' Jack Flash" or "Rocks Off" which may also be mainly drug-inspired, but are too ambiguous to tell for certain. Also...for what it's worth, I remember reading Entertainment Weekly describe the song as a "paradoxical bondage fantasy", which I can see too.
    lilavation October 13, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAnother point--Don't rely too much on the book "Up and Down With the Rolling Stones". That book is full of falsehoods. For example-Sanchez wrote that Keith Richards and others were lectured and warned by the pastor at Brian Jones' funeral. Keith Richards did not attend Brian Jones' funeral. Mick Jagger was seeing a black girl named Marsha Hunt at the time this song was written. She was probably the main inspiration.
    JumpyJackon May 28, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"If you'd rather live somewhere like Cuba or North Korea or ----Hell-----please feel free to relocate"

    - Cuba's poor, North Koreas a scary scary place and Hells climate doesnt suit me. Come to think of it I wouldn't wanna live in America either, but thats mainly cos it wouldnt be different enough from Britain to justify moving. To suggest that if you think conditions in a country are unfair the correct responce is to leave rather than sort them out is rediculous. Remember, questioning your government is patriotic.

    That aside, I pretty much agree with your opinion on this song. Deliberate double entendre, but the main focus of the song is on the rape of the slave girl.
    Comrade_Liaron June 07, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGood grief, there I go again. I shouldn't have put it that way. Sorry about that. I just disagree. I think Jagger is a better lyricist than you give him credit for.
    JumpyJackon August 30, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentQuite simply, this song plays on the white stereotype of the sexual prowess of the black race. The first verse is rather raunchy, to be sure. The second verse's "houseboy" is probably a black servent getting it on with the lady of the house. The third verse is more about Mick himself who is no schoolboy but knows what he likes. I don't know how racist or sexist it is, but I had a black girlfriend once who loved to listen to this song when we were getting it on. A sexy song indeed, always reminds me of her. "Is it true what they say about you people? oh, it's true, it's true, it's true!"
    wildpoeton August 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentbellaboo137 - this song disgusts you?! Really, get a grip, it's just a song!
    Just because he is singing about slave girls being sexually abused doesn't mean the band approve of slavery and degrading women etc. The song is telling a story, and I can think of many songs which tell stories about people in situations they’d rather not be — they’re not condoning it, it’s just a fact of life that bad things happen!!

    Personally, I absolutely ADORE this song!! Definitely the best song the Stones every produced, and possibly my favourite song ever!
    buffoniaon March 05, 2009   Link

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