Flip the Switch

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: March-July 1997
Recording location: Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Producers: Don Was & The Glimmer Twins        Chief engineers: Rob Fraboni & Dan Bosworth
Mixer: Tom Lord-Alge         Performed onstage: 1997-98


Drums: Charlie Watts
Acoustic bass: Jeff Sarli
Electric guitars: Keith Richards (incl. solo), Ron Wood & Waddy Wachtel
Lead vocal: Mick Jagger
Background vocals: Keith Richards, Bernard Fowler & Blondie Chaplin
Saxophone: Joe Sublett
Tambourine: Blondie Chaplin
Percussion: Jim Keltner

A scrap of flesh and a heap of bones
One deep sigh and a desperate moan
Three black eyes and a busted nose
I said, Oh yeah, oh yeah

Take me up - baby, I'm ready to go
Switch me up - baby, I'm ready to go, yeah
Pick me up - baby, I'm ready
Baby, baby I'm ready to go - shoot me, squeeze me, it's in my blood

I'm not going to burn in Hell - oh no
I cased the joint and I know it well - oh yeah
Maybe my carcass could feed the worms
But I'm working for the other firm

Shoot me up - baby,  I'm ready to go
Switch me up - baby, I'm ready to roll, yeah
Set me up - baby, baby, baby I'm ready
Baby, I'm ready to go
- shoot me, freeze me to my blood  (flip the switch)

I've got my money, my ticket, all that shit
I even got myself a little shaving kit
What would it take to bury me?
I can't wait, I can't wait to see

I've got a toothbrush, mouthwash, all that shit
I'm looking down in the filthy pit
I had the turkey and the stuffing too
I even saved a little bit for you

Lethal injection's a luxury
I want to give it to the whole jury
I'm just dying for one more squeeze
Oh yeah, oh yeah

Pick me up - baby,  I'm ready to go, yeah
Pick me up - baby, I'm ready to blow, ah
Take me up - baby, if you're ready to go
Baby, I've got nowhere to go
Baby, I'm ready to go - shoot me, freeze me to the bone

Ah, flip the switch   (freeze) (shoot me)




I wrote Flip the Switch, and (Mick) had a lot of input on that.

- Keith Richards, September 1997

It's 25 minutes long, the actual track we cut. And 10 of those minutes are me and Jim Keltner just going, and then Keith. I think this is what happened: Keith put a song that we'd been doing a few days before onto this rhythm, he suddenly sort of said That's the rhythm. But that's how Keith works, you know. He suddenly just... We were mucking around, you know.

- Charlie Watts, 1997

The momentum of Charlie and Keltner was a like a train (laughs). We all just jumped on.

- Ron Wood, 1997

It's very fast. It's like 160 plus beats a minute and it started off as a drum thing with Charlie and Jim Keltner playing. It wasn't a song at all. And Keith fashioned this lick and song around this groove, so that was a live groove. It wasn't some groove that we messed with and loosened it.

- Mick Jagger, 1997

Beat-wise the fastest track the Stones have ever cut or any other rock and roll song. It even beats Rip This Joint, which is always considered to be the fastest track ever cut (laughs). But it does come roaring at this beautiful beat and that's why I've been saying about Charlie Watts. (The album) starts with Charlie and it actually ends with Charlie, the whole record, so you know, I can go on and on about him, and everybody else yeah, great, really. But to me the real pleasure is playing with Charlie Watts, who is right on the top of his game. And that makes it much easier for me. Then I can really fly, you know what I mean.

- Keith Richards, 1997

Actually, Rip This Joint was the fastest track the Stones ever cut - until Flip the Switch, which is a couple of beats faster. There's something about that speed when you cut it in half and the acoustic bass plays that tempo. I just love the air that you get. Same as the acoustic guitar. There's a power you can get from an upright bass if you record it right. It just has a different feel than electric bass. It doesn't thump so much. And it doesn't have such a precise note sound. There's a wider, fatter bounce on it. It puts the roll back into the rock.

- Keith Richards, July 1997

I mean, it's a very strange lyric, really, about death and about madness and... criminality and so on. Quite heavy stuff, really. No, but it's a good one. It's an excellent one to start a record with.

- Mick Jagger, 1997

Back to TrackTalk Menu.

Back to Bridges to Babylon.

Back to Main Page.