Title: She's a Rainbow
Artist: The Rolling Stones
Album: Their Satanic Majesties Request
I've always been a bit amused by the "Who's better, The Beatles or The Stones?" debate which is almost always begun by someone whose answer is the latter. It's like a built-in inferiority complex or an underdog syndrome—I'm not sure—but I've always seen it as kind of a pointless discussion. I must confess I haven't heard it for some time but it was quite prevalent when I was a kid and The Beatles weren't such a distant memory.
But in the late 1960s, there was certainly some talk of a rivalry between the two whether real or imagined. The bands seemed to get on okay, with McCartney and Lennon even showing up to contribute some backing vocals to a couple of songs on the Stones' second album of 1967, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which was frequently touted as their answer to The Beatles' landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. But at a time when The Beatles were relying even more heavily on their longtime producer George Martin, The Rolling Stones found themselves without one after longtime manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham resigned over frustration with the band's increasingly decadent lifestyle, which had led to recent drug busts and a lack of focus in the recording studio.
But the record that Keith Richards would later describe as "a load of crap" did produce "She's a Rainbow," which arguably does meet the standard set by Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's... With a string arrangement by Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and stylish Baroque piano playing by Nicky Hopkins, the song boasts one of the more creative arrangements to appear on a Stones record. The tempo fluctuations and childlike backing vocals contribute to a colorful setting in support of lyrics that may or may not be blue. The cacophonic conclusion is not dissimilar to moments present on the next Beatles record, the so-called "White Album." A moment of clever invention during a difficult time for the so-called "anti-Beatles."