The Rolling Stones – ”Ruby Tuesday” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Brendan Briggs

Brendan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. In 2022, he released his first album "Dive" under the name "Arctotherium".

“Ruby Tuesday” is about a romance that is ending because the female half refuses to commit. The lyrics focus on how the narrator’s love interest doesn’t want to be tied down, which makes the relationship impossible. Nonetheless, the narrator’s feelings are strong, which makes the song a story about doomed love.

There are varying accounts of the songwriting process, but everyone agrees that Keith Richards wrote the lyrics. The song was inspired by his then-girlfriend, Linda Keith, a young, busy model who eventually broke Richards’ heart. In order to get catharsis, Richards decided to address this romance in the lyrics to the now-famous track.

To discover the meaning of “Ruby Tuesday,” we’ll use this article to perform an analysis of these sentimental lyrics. Although the track might be known for its memorable melody or its use of the recorder, we’re going to focus on the songwriting story and the universal themes that make this song accessible to anyone. Without further ado, let’s get started!

“Ruby Tuesday” Lyrics Meaning

The lyrics start by describing the character of Richards’ love interest. She’s mysterious and moves from place to place, never bothering to “say where she came from.” She lives in the moment because she thinks “yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone.” This is hard on Richards; she just “comes and goes” as she pleases.

In the chorus, Richards reveals that the relationship is ending. He says “goodbye Ruby Tuesday” as a farewell to the girl in question. On the record, Richards has confirmed that “Ruby Tuesday” refers to a previous girlfriend, Linda Keith, who ended up leaving him. Her lifestyle was full of travel and focused on freedom, which ended up killing the romance.

The chorus also reveals the main reason the relationship won’t work. Because Linda changes “with every new day,” Richards feels he can’t “hang a name” on her. This probably has multiple meanings. For one, he is referring to the fact that it’s hard to label people who don’t want to be boxed in. On the other hand, it may also be a reference to the custom of women taking their husband’s surnames in marriage. This seems unlikely to Richards since Linda doesn’t want to be tied down.

In verse two, this theme continues. Richards can’t question “why she needs to be so free” because it’s central to her identity. She doesn’t want to be “chained to a life where nothing’s gained” and prefers to keep her flexibility.

Why does she do this? Verse three gives an answer: She’s trying to chase her dreams “before they slip away.” She believes that if you “lose your dreams… you will lose your mind.” This is what makes Richards upset. He realizes that the paths of life he and Linda are on do not overlap enough for their romance to work, which dooms it to fail.

In summary, “Ruby Tuesday” is about the heartbreak that comes when people’s lives tear them apart. The mixture of Richards’ longing and his recognition of the situation gives the song a genuine sadness that adds emotional weight (and success) to the track.

The Story Behind “Ruby Tuesday”

In the mid-1960s, Keith Richards was reportedly “absolutely in love” with Linda Keith, a young model who got along quite well with the guitarist. Both of them led active lifestyles, but this eventually became too much to handle in the context of a relationship.

With The Rolling Stones always traveling and with Linda Keith’s own career, the romance eventually became strained. Eventually, Linda left Richards, which was the first time he felt the “deep cut” of heartbreak. Although the pain was hard, Richards was able to represent his feelings artistically. This is the origin of “Ruby Tuesday.”

The recording process was very collaborative – so collaborative, in fact, that there are conflicting reports about who contributed what. However, there is no conflict or bad blood over this matter. After some long studio sessions (which included Richards and Billy Wyman laying down the double-bass part jointly), “Ruby Tuesday” was a finalized product.

The world seems to appreciate their efforts. “Ruby Tuesday” was a #1 hit in the United States and is considered one of the classic Rolling Stones songs. It has also received no shortage of critical acclaim, particularly for the innovative recorder lines that can be heard on the recording. The track also made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, although it comes as no surprise.

The song has also been covered by other artists, such as  Rod Stewart and Julian Lennon. Lennon’s version was featured on the famous Tv show, The Wonder Years, which helped bring the song to more ears than ever before. With such a memorable melody, it’s no surprise that this tune hasn’t only been sung by Mick Jagger.

The next time you play this classic hit, let these pieces of music history make it even more special!