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Intro

In 1968, a lot of people were not happy – not happy at all. The year has gone down in history as a year of protests, against everything from poor student living conditions to the Vietnam War.

Mick Jagger found himself at one of those very protests, in London, in March of that year. That experience, combined with what he was hearing about similar events around the world, was the inspiration for one of the Rolling Stones' most enduring hits: "Street Fighting Man." 

Despite its clear origins, though, this song is still a little bit of a mystery – the title seems straightforward, but the rest of the lyrics are a little more ambivalent. Keep reading to learn more about this iconic piece of music, which tackles the social issues of the 1960s as only rock n' roll can.

About the Song

ArtistThe Rolling Stones Musician(s)Mick Jagger (lead vocals, back-up vocals), Brian Jones (sitar, tamboura), Keith Richards (acoustic guitar, bass guitar, back-up vocals), Charlie Watts (drums), Nicky Hopkin (piano), Dave Mason (shehnai)
AlbumBeggars Banquet
Year1968
LabelDecca Records (UK), London records (US)
Writer(s)Mick Jagger, Keith Richards
Producer(s)Jimmy Miller
Learn to play: Chords
Buy this song: Amazon iTunes
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Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
"Street Fighting Man" is, most obviously, a response to and product of what was going on in 1960s. A lot was going on: the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, Vietnam War protests at home and abroad, and student and worker protests in France and Europe.

The Stones' hit propelled them into a more political sphere of music, but, perhaps just as importantly, it was part of an album that helped them climb to the top of the pop world. And as some argue it, they dethroned none other than the Beatles themselves.

On the Charts

"Street Fighting Man" reached #48 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968.

The song appears at #295 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
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