"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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  • +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

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