40 Years Ago: The Rolling Stones Release ‘She’s So Cold’
When the Rolling Stones released “She’s So Cold” as the second single from their 1980 album Emotional Rescue, they’d already caught some heat for experimenting with the disco genre.
Die-hard fans of the band – which had reached the grand old age of 18 years and started to stir up the decades-long fascination about when its career would end – may not have been happy, but the nightclub vibe had done well for Mick Jagger and company on 1978’s Some Girls. They clearly weren’t ready to give up the experimentation.
Perhaps it’s simply because they were bemused with having recovered their commercial glory days that had somewhat faded in the mid-‘70s. Now that they were back at the top, where else was there to go?
“Yeah, it’s all a joke, really,” Jagger told Rolling Stone at the time. “There’s a lot of pastiche all over the album. It’s all our piss-taking, in other words. Pastiche is just a big word for it.”
He claimed he wrote the album's lyrics in an hour, though the music took two years to come together and they never should have allowed it to take that long. “My attention span is so limited,” he said. “You know, I just love to make up songs and I don’t even like to finish the words. I just like to sing ‘ooooh’ all the way through. And then I’m happy after that. I don’t want to do anymore. That’s it. I don’t even want to hear it again.”
The singer was also convinced that rock ’n’ roll was over and that punk had proved it. “Basically, rock ’n’ roll isn’t protest, and never was: It’s not political,” he argued. "It promotes interfamilial tension. It used to. Now it can’t even do that, because fathers don’t ever get outraged with the music. Either they like it or it sounds similar to what they liked as kids.”
That was the mindset against which “She’s So Cold” arrived.
Watch the Rolling Stones' ‘She’s So Cold’ Video
In no way is it a thought-provoking song, but it did seem to show the Stones were capable of having some fun - at least in the video. After all, no one was talking about taking the fun out of rock ’n’ roll.
And like the other Stones disco dalliances, the song showed off the effectiveness of Charlie Watts’ drumming. “Everybody thinks Mick and Keith are the Rolling Stones,” Keith Richards said. “If Charlie wasn’t doing what he’s doing on drums, that wouldn’t be true at all. You’d find out that Charlie Watts is the Stones.”
“She’s So Cold” reached No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 but went all the way to No. 9 on the disco chart. The band achieved what it wanted to, and the single’s success helped make Emotional Rescue the Stones' eighth chart-topping album in the U.S.
Behind the scenes, though, more change was coming. Bassist Bill Wyman was already talking about quitting, and the relationship between Jagger and Richards was heading further south than it ever had before.
Still, even if the band's loyalists didn’t like “She’s So Cold,” the song proved that whatever type of music they turned their minds to, the Stones could make their presence felt, even if they were just “piss-taking.”