The Rolling Stones — “My Obsession”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — September 12, 2022


579) The Rolling Stones — “My Obsession”

I have to admit that when I recently heard “Obsession” on Little Steven’s Underground Garage, I thought “what is this super-cool Stones song that I have no recollection of ever having heard before?!”. Was it from some bootleg? No, it was off Between the Buttons! Talk about hiding in plain sight!

“Obsession” is a “gem-like” song “of experience” (Robert Christgau,, and a “brooding . . . near classic”. (Richie Unterberger,

Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon dive deep:

The narrator is a man obsessed. He is madly in love with the girl right in front of him and wants her to be his, to belong to him alone. He wants to be her teacher, that is to say to introduce her to the pleasures of lovemaking, and makes this absolutely plain to her . . . . My Obsession” is a curious combination of R&B, Phil Spector, and psychedelia. As on so many Stones songs, Charlie Watts leads in with a heavy, hypnotic beat. . . . [It] is Ian Stewart who gives the number its musical color with a superb, occasionally dissonant, boogie-woogie piano part.

The Rolling Stones: All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Track

Jim Connelly obsesses about “Obsession”:

Equally under the influence of Bob Dylan, The Kinks and whichever hallucinogens they could get their hands upon, [Between the Buttons is] full of songs with dark lyrics, weird rhythms and strange mixes. . . . [N]o song defines it more to me than “My Obsession,” which frankensteins so many disparate elements together it should have been a train wreck. Opening with a Charlie Watts kick-snare-kick-snare-snare drum beat with handclaps(!) and battering his hi-hat at the same time, “My Obsession” piles on the fuzz guitar, fuzz bass . . . and Ian Stewart’s piano as Mick (and sometimes Keith) sing about, well, the narrator’s obsession. . . . Oh, and from the start, Ian Stewart starts going crazy on the piano, like he’s on a totally different song, playing crazy boogie-woogie licks and leads and solos that have absolutely nothing to do with the rhythms of the song, and act like the musical equivalent of the obsession Mick and Keith are singing about. One of the fun things about “My Obsession” is that its got a shit-ton of lyrics, each more disturbing that the last. . . . I think of “My Obsession” as a weird, cool experiment that shouldn’t have worked but somehow did.

Oh, and “Obsession” is Brian Wilson’s favorite Stones song! Jack Wheatley writes that:

[Brian Wilson’s] favourite number by The Rolling Stones is an obscure choice, to say the least. But that’s what makes it all the more brilliant. Wilson picked ‘My Obsession’ . . . [which] has never been played live, but it’s a track that clearly had great significance for Wilson nonetheless.

Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon give some context:

During the session at the RCA Studios, Brian Wilson was brought to see the Stones, whom he did not yet know, by Lou Adler. Mick offered a joint, which he could not possibly refuse. And then he sat down on a sofa to watch: “Influenced by the pot, I thought ‘My Obsession’ was the best fucking rock and roll song I’ve ever heard in my life, and by the time I managed to make it home, a good several hours after spacing at the studio, I felt as if the Stones had knocked me on my ass. I just didn’t see how the Beach Boys were going to compete. I . . . stayed in bed for two straight days, smoking pot and licking my wounds.”

The Rolling Stones: All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Track

As to Between the Buttons, Robert Christgau writes that:

Accused of psychedelia, Beatlephobia, and murky mix syndrome, this underrated keeper is distinguished by complex rhymes, complex sexual stereotyping, and the non-blues, oh-so-rock-and-roll pianos of Ian Stewart, Jack Nitzsche, Nicky Hopkins, and Brian Jones.

And Richie Unterberger adds:

The Rolling Stones’ 1967 recordings are a matter of some controversy; many critics felt that they were compromising their raw, rootsy power with trendy emulations of the Beatles, Kinks, Dylan and psychedelic music. Approach this album with an open mind, though, and you’ll find it to be one of their strongest, most eclectic LPs, with many fine songs that remain unknown to all but Stones devotees. The lyrics are getting better (if more savage), and the arrangements more creative . . . .

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