The Resistant Meaning Behind the Rolling Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud”

The true spirit of rock and roll is bucking against repressive systems, and that rings true for one of the Rolling Stones’ classic songs, “Get Off of My Cloud.”

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Co-written by lead singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards – with the former taking lead on lyrics and the latter on melody – “Cloud” was released as the follow-up single to their wildly successful hit, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” which directly impacted the song’s meaning.

Meaning Behind the Song

“Cloud” was released in September 1965, merely three months after “Satisfaction,” the song that catapulted them from a popular English rock band into bonafide superstars. It became their first No. 1 hit in the U.S. when it topped the Billboard Hot 100 that same year. But there may not have been “Get Off of My Cloud” had it not been for the success, and high expectations, that came in the wake of “Satisfaction.”

“‘Get Off of My Cloud’ was basically a response to people knocking on our door asking us for the follow-up to ‘Satisfaction,'” Richards said in the 2003 book, According to the Rolling Stones. “We thought, ‘At last. We can sit back and maybe think about events’. Suddenly there’s the knock at the door and of course, what came out of that was ‘Get Off of My Cloud.'”

As much as the song was rebuking the pressure they were faced with to produce another massive hit, “Cloud” also acted as a commentary on American culture. After building a substantial following in their native city of London, England, “Satisfaction” earned them a global fanbase. In a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone, Jagger shared how they wrote “Cloud” as the antithesis to the order and structure they witnessed across the U.S.

“It’s a stop-bugging-me, post-teenage-alienation song,” Jagger explained. “The grown-up world was a very ordered society in the early ’60s, and I was coming out of it. America was even more ordered than anywhere else. I found it was a very restrictive society in thought and behavior and dress.”

Though he calls New York “wonderful” and Los Angeles “interesting” when it came to touring, Jagger said he found America overall to be oppressive in 1964 in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement.

“Outside of that we found it the most repressive society, very prejudiced in every way,” he continued. “There was still segregation. And the attitudes were fantastically old-fashioned. Americans shocked me by their behavior and their narrow-mindedness.”

The success of “Satisfaction” set the stage for “Cloud” to achieve the same fate. It also reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 where it sat for two weeks, and at No. 1 on the UK Singles chart for three weeks. Despite it being another one of the band’s signature hits, Richards had a change of heart about it in 1971.

“I never dug it as a record. The chorus was a nice idea but we rushed it as the follow-up,” Richards told Rolling Stone. “We were in L.A. and it was time for another single. But how do you follow ‘Satisfaction’? Actually, what I wanted was to do it slow like a Lee Dorsey thing. We rocked it up.”

Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images

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