Ruby Tuesday is a great song, and has stayed with me since I first heard it rolling out from under my pillow on a lemon-coloured transistor radio on wings of static on 208 from Luxembourg.

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The Rolling Stones recorded Ruby Tuesday in Nov/Dec 1966, and the song was released along with Lets Spend The Night Together as a double a-sided single on January 13 1967.

The single was banned from in Ireland - the notion of spending the night together in 1967 Ireland was just not acceptable!

Lyrically and sonically, Ruby Tuesday is a shift away from the blues inflected grammar of the earlier Stones stuff.

'66 was the year of The Beatles' Revolver, The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde - The Stones were rattling around in the playpen, wondering what to do next.

Ruby Tuesday is all Keith Richards, a little Brian Jones (who had not fully entered the chemical world) and a little Mick Jagger.

Ruby Tuesday is a ballad, a story song about a free spirited wild child Linda Keith, who ditched Richards for Jimi Hendrix.

Don't question why she needs to be so free/She'll tell you it's the only way to be/She just can't be chained/To a life where nothings gained/And nothings lost, at such a cost

It reminds me always of Beeswing by Richard Thompson …

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Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee's wing/So fine a breath of wind might blow her away/She was a lost child, oh she was running wild/She said "As long as there's no price on love, I'll stay/And you wouldn't want me any other way"

String bass fingered by Bill Wyman and bowed by Keith, along with a floating flute figure underpin Mick's vocal.

The Stones' 1967 recording is of its time, but Dick Gaughan's setting is timeless.

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Gaughan, a Scottish musician and singer of the highest order takes ownership of the song.

There is no one quite like Gaughan, his songs of struggle, love and freedom pitted and lined with rage and compassion. His voice is an instrument filled with a plaintive Irish tone and sharp Scottish rhythm. Like all great ballad singers, the song sings him… Ruby Tuesday sings him.

Harp and a glistening open-tuned guitar lay down a musical bed for his beautiful voice - every syllable, every rolling 'R' riveting. Ruby comes alive, and the song is replete with a sense of love, loss,longing and a lingering hint of danger.

The Stones (Keith in particular) were always friends of danger. Dick Gaughan adds a hint of grace to their danger, and Ruby Tuesday through his voice finds redemption and wisdom... 

Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind...

We couldn't hear that in 1967. We sure know it now.


She would never say where she came from

Yesterday don't matter if it's gone

While the sun is bright

Or in the darkest night

No one knows, she comes and goes

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

Who could hang a name on you?

When you change with every new day

Still I'm gonna miss you

Don't question why she needs to be so free

She'll tell you it's the only way to be

She just can't be chained

To a life where nothings gained

And nothings lost, at such a cost

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

Who could hang a name on you?

When you change with every new day

Still I'm gonna miss you

"There's no time to lose", I heard her say

Catch your dreams before they slip away

Dying all the time

Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind

Ain't life unkind?

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

Who could hang a name on you?

When you change with every new day

Still I'm gonna miss you

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

Who could hang a name on you?

When you change with every new day

Still I'm gonna miss you.

The South Wind Blows is presented by Philip King every Sunday evening on RTE Radio 1 at 9PM.