Official single cover, created by Ruby Mazur
|Single by The Rolling Stones|
|from the album Exile on Main St.|
|B-side||"Sweet Black Angel"|
|Released||14 April 1972|
Villa Nellcôte, France
|Label||Rolling Stones Records|
|The Rolling Stones singles chronology|
|Exile on Main St. track listing|
"Tumbling Dice" is a song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for The Rolling Stones' 1972 double album Exile on Main St., and was the album's lead single. The song peaked at number 7 on the US charts and number 5 in the UK. The lyrics tell the story of a gambler who cannot remain faithful to any woman. The music has a blues boogie-woogie rhythm. "Tumbling Dice" has been performed in many of the band's concerts.
Cover versions of "Tumbling Dice" have been created in such diverse styles as reggae, bluegrass and noise rock. An updated version from a female perspective was a Top 40 hit single for Linda Ronstadt in 1978, which is included in the film FM and on her album Simple Dreams.
An early version of "Tumbling Dice", called "Good Time Women", was recorded in 1970 during the sessions for Exile on Main Street. The song is a bluesy boogie-woogie, with heavy emphasis on Ian Stewart's piano work. The two songs are similar in structure in that they have the same chord progression and a similar melody. Also, Jagger sings the hook to the accompaniment of Taylor's lone lead guitar. However, "Good Time Women" lacked an opening riff, a background choir, and the beat which propels the groove of "Tumbling Dice". (An October 1970 recording of "Good Time Women" was released in 2010 on the deluxe remastered release of Exile on Main St.)
"Tumbling Dice" was recorded in the basement of the chateau Villa Nellcôte, near Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. The recording schedule for Exile on Main St. had the band sleeping during the day and recording with whoever was around at night. The basic track of the song was recorded on 3 August 1971. Mick Taylor, the Rolling Stones' second guitarist, played bass on the track, due to bassist Bill Wyman's absence that night, and Mick Jagger played guitar.
In Rolling With the Stones, Bill Wyman said: "On 3 August we worked on 'Good Time Woman' and when I arrived the following day I found Mick Taylor playing bass. I hung around until 3am then left." In the liner notes to Jump Back: The Best of The Rolling Stones, Richards stated, "I remember writing the riff upstairs in the very elegant front room, and we took it downstairs the same evening and we cut it." Jagger said of the lyrics, "It's weird where your lyric things come from. On Tumbling Dice, I sat down with the house keeper and talked to her about gambling. She liked to play dice and I really didn't know much about it, but I got it off her and managed to make the song out of that." " He concluded, " 'Tumbling Dice' " was written to fit Keith's riff. It's about gambling and love, an old blues track."
When discussing Tumbling Dice, recording engineer Andy Johns stated, "I know we had a hundred reels of tape on the basic track. That was a good song, but it was really like pulling teeth. It just went on and on and on." Some have said that it may have taken as many as 150 takes to get the basic track of the song. The mixing of the album was also difficult, Jagger has never liked the final mix of the song. In an interview with Melody Maker, Jagger said, "I think they used the wrong mix for that one. I know they did."
The single was released on 14 April 1972. "Tumbling Dice" peaked at number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 5 in the UK Singles chart. It was the Rolling Stones' 23rd single in the United States and their 17th in the United Kingdom. The single's B-side was "Sweet Black Angel", a song written by Jagger about Black Panther activist Angela Davis.
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||28|
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)||7|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||17|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||5|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||5|
|US Billboard Hot 100||7|
"Tumbling Dice" is known for its "groove", with Aerosmith's Joe Perry saying the song is, "so laid-back, it really sucks you in..." The song's tempo has often been credited with creating that groove. In concert, Jagger and Richards have been known to argue over the speed of the song, with Jagger trying to push the song's tempo a bit faster.
The song's lyrical structure is irregular. While many songs have the same number of lines for the verse or chorus, the first verse has eight lines, the second verse has six lines, and the last verse has two lines. The song's first chorus has two lines, the second chorus has three, and the third chorus has twelve lines.
At the beginning of every chorus, the piano, bass and drums drop out and the backing vocals sing "you got to roll me" as the guitar plays the song's signature guitar figure. The third chorus leads into the song's coda. Slowly, the band's rhythm section works its way back into the song. The coda includes a call and response with the backing vocals singing "you got to roll me" as Jagger and Richards respond by singing "keep on rolling." This happens over a pounding beat laid down by Charlie Watts. After a few measures, Watts resumes playing his regular drum pattern. The coda continues for another minute as Jagger ad-libs lyrics until the fade out.
The Rolling Stones performed "Tumbling Dice" live for the first time on 3 June 1972 at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the start of their 1972 North American Tour. Since then, only seven regular tour concerts and a handful of benefit shows have not included "Tumbling Dice". From 29 April to 3 May 1976, during the European tour 1976, the Stones did not feature the song in the setlist. The first two nights of the 1999 No Security Tour did not feature "Tumbling Dice" making them the first regular tour concerts in 23 years not to feature "Tumbling Dice". On 17 September 2005 "Tumbling Dice" was missing from the set list of a show on the A Bigger Bang Tour.
Several live recordings of the song have been released. The 1977 double album Love You Live features a version recorded on 7 June 1976 at Les Abattoirs, Paris, France. The 2008 release Shine a Light captures a New York City performance from the 2006 leg of the A Bigger Bang Tour, while a July 2013 performance in London's Hyde Park is included in Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live.
Additionally, a live version of the song was recorded for Stripped, the 1995 live album that documented the Voodoo Lounge Tour, but did not appear on that album, however, was included in the 2016 rerelease, Totally Stripped. The recording crossfades from a backstage vocal rehearsal of the song on solo piano to an onstage performance of the song. The backstage rehearsal was recorded at the Olympia Theatre, Paris, France on 3 July 1995, and the live performance at Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida on 25 November 1994. This recording can be found on both the 1996 "Wild Horses" (live) single and the Rarities 1971-2003 album.
Many Stones concert films have included "Tumbling Dice": Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (1974), Let's Spend the Night Together (1983), Stones at the Max (1992), The Rolling Stones: Voodoo Lounge Live (1995), Bridges to Babylon Tour '97–98 (1998), Rolling Stones - Four Flicks (2003), The Biggest Bang (2007), Shine a Light (2008).
"Tumbling Dice" has also been included in several "From the Vault" archive releases, including Some Girls: Live in Texas '78 (2011), Hampton Coliseum – Live In 1981 (2014) and L.A. Forum - Live In 1975 (2014).
Due to its length and musical scope, most reviews of Exile on Main St. glossed over the album's individual songs to focus on the album as a whole. However, Lenny Kaye, in his review for Rolling Stone, took a paragraph to describe the song.
Disc magazine on April 15, 1972, said:
The song has earned spots on numerous "best of" lists, including Spin magazine ranking it as the third greatest single of all time. Rolling Stone ranked "Tumbling Dice" as #424 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004,[a] and Q magazine ranked it #258 on their 1001 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Cover of the German single for "Tumbling Dice" with "Carmelita" as the B-side. The American version did not have a picture sleeve.
|Single by Linda Ronstadt|
|from the album Simple Dreams|
|B-side||"I Never Will Marry"|
|Genre||Rock, Classic rock|
|Linda Ronstadt singles chronology|
In 1977, Linda Ronstadt covered the song "Tumbling Dice" for her Simple Dreams studio album. In an interview with Hit Parader magazine, she stated that her band played "Tumbling Dice" for sound checks, but nobody knew the words. Mick Jagger suggested that Ronstadt should sing more hard rock songs and suggested "Tumbling Dice", which she made him write down the lyrics of.
Produced by Peter Asher and released on Asylum Records as a single in the spring of 1978, Ronstadt had a hit with "Tumbling Dice" charting at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Ronstadt also performed the song and starred in the movie FM. Her live version appears on the soundtrack album to this 1978 film FM. Linda Ronstadt joined the Rolling Stones onstage to sing "Tumbling Dice" on July 21, 1978 in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona.
In 2001, Hilary Rosen, representing the RIAA, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and listed a number of songs that would be in danger of censorship. Among those were Linda Ronstadt's cover of "Tumbling Dice", which Rosen said was "a song about rape written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards."
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