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Tell Me (You're Coming Back)

"Tell Me"
B-side "I Just Want to Make Love to You" (Willie Dixon)
Released 13 June 1964 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded February 1964
Genre Beat, pop[1]
Length 4:05 (Album version)
2:47 (Single version)
Label London 45-LON 9682
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer Andrew Loog Oldham
The Rolling Stones singles chronology

"Not Fade Away"
"Tell Me"
"It's All Over Now"

"Tell Me" is a song by English rock band The Rolling Stones, featured on their 1964 self-titled album (US title: England's Newest Hit Makers). It was later released as single A-side in the US only, becoming the first Jagger/Richards song that the band released as a single A-side, and their first record to enter the US Top 40. The single reached #24 in the US and #1 in Sweden. It was not released as a single in the UK.

The song

Written by singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, "Tell Me" is a pop ballad. Richie Unterberger, on Allmusic, said in his review of the song, "It should be pointed out ... that the Rolling Stones, even in 1964, were more versatile and open toward non-blues-rooted music than is often acknowledged by critics."[1] The Rolling Stones' two previous singles bear out this observation: one had been the Lennon–McCartney-penned "I Wanna Be Your Man" (later recorded by The Beatles as well); another was Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away".

Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone magazine: "['Tell Me'] is very different from doing those R&B covers or Marvin Gaye covers and all that. There's a definite feel about it. It's a very pop song, as opposed to all the blues songs and the Motown covers, which everyone did at the time."[2]

The song's lyrics are a glimpse of a failed relationship and the singer's attempt to win back the girl's love:

Regarding the lyrics, Unterberger says, "When [Jagger and Richards] began to write songs, they were usually not derived from the blues, but were often surprisingly fey, slow, Mersey-type pop numbers... 'Tell Me' was quite acoustic-based, with a sad, almost dispirited air. After quiet lines about the end of the love affair, the tempo and melody both brighten…"[1]

Recording and release

"Tell Me" was recorded in London in February 1964; versions both with and without Ian Stewart's piano were cut.[3][4] Jagger said: "Keith was playing 12-string and singing harmonies into the same microphone as the 12-string. We recorded it in this tiny studio in the West End of London called Regent Sound, which was a demo studio. I think the whole of that album was recorded in there."[2]

Richards said in a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, "'Tell Me'... was a dub. Half those records were dubs on that first album, that Mick and I and Charlie and I'd put a bass on or maybe Bill was there and he'd put a bass on. 'Let's put it down while we remember it,' and the next thing we know is, 'Oh look, track 8 is that dub we did a couple months ago.' That's how little control we had."[5]

Early pressings of the UK release of the debut album mistakenly included the piano-less version of "Tell Me" (the 2:52 version); all subsequent releases have featured the version with piano.[4] The full-length (4:05 or 4:06) recording of this piano version, which appeared on the standard UK LP after the mistake was corrected, has an abrupt ending before the performance of the song finishes. Most other LP and CD versions of the UK debut album -- as well as the Stones' US debut album, subtitled England's Newest Hit Makers -- contain an edited version of this recording, which fades out at around 3:48.

In June 1964 "Tell Me" was released as a single in the USA only. The single edit is 2:47. It peaked at # 24 for two weeks, and lasting in the Billboard Hot 100 for a total of 10 weeks. The B-side was a cover of the Willie Dixon song "I Just Wanna Make Love to You".

The Rolling Stones performed the song in concert in 1964 and 1965.[3]

The "Tell Me" single was re-released on various Rolling Stones compilation albums, including Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass), More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies), 30 Greatest Hits, and Singles Collection: The London Years. Over the years, the 3:48 edit has replaced the 2:47 single edit on such compilations; for example, the 1989 edition of Singles Collection: The London Years has the single edit, while the 2002 edition has the longer version.

The song was used in Martin Scorsese´s film Mean Streets (1973).

Other versions

  • It was covered in 1966 by The Grass Roots on their first album Where Were You When I Needed You.
  • The Dead Boys covered this on their second album We Have Come for Your Children
  • Cassell Webb recorded a version for her 1990 album Convesations at Dawn. It was also released as a single.
  • The Termites covered this and can be found on the compilation Girls in the Garage vol 1 on cd, and Girls in the Garage vol 4 on vinyl.



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