“She’s a Rainbow” is the best known and most significant song on the album “Their Satanic Majesties Request”, which the Rolling Stones released in December 1967, at the height of the psychedelic rock era.
Composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it presented many innovative sounds: the mellotron played by Brian Jones, the vibrant piano phrase played by Nicky Hopkins, the presence of a string section…
The text written by Jagger (and possibly referring to Marianne Faithfull) was also particularly inspired, more poetic and less provocative than usual, and different from the previous songs about women, which tended to be a bit more erotic (even though many think that “she comes in colors” may be a reference to her orgasms). It has been defined “the prettiest and most uncharacteristic song” that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote for the Stones and it seems to form the last part of a lyrical, folk-based cycle that started with “As Tears Go By” and continued with “Lady Jane” and “Ruby Tuesday.”
(We have to mention that the Beatles claimed that this song was imitating “All You Need Is Love”, and that the whole album was an attempt to emulate “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely-Hearts Club Band”.)
The working title of the album was “Cosmic Christmas”: its hidden coda featured Wyman saying in a slowed-down voice: “We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!’. As well as for the album, “She’s a Rainbow” also was recorded under a different working title: “Flowers in Your Bonnet”.
Apple used this in 1999 commercials for their colourful iMac computers and returned to Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart in 2018 as a result of its appearance in two different commercials (a car and a perfume)
The song starts with a barker who is trying to attract people’s attention shouting:
“Alright there now listen very closely for how to play the game, I’ll tell you how to do it.
Now luv, all you gotta do, luv, is when the whistle’s blown, I want you to give one spin, one spin only on your ball.
Any prize, take what you like. One winner, one prize, the pick o’ th’ stall. Are you all ready?”
The addressee is not identified, although many think the “she” was referring to Mick Jagger’s greatest love, Marianne Faithful; and the colours and the images may be considered psychedelic and connected to drugs.
In the first verse the woman is compared to the passing image of the rainbow, and then through the use of “blue” and “white” to another passing image: a sailboat.
In the second verse she is represented as a queen, one of those queens in medieval times wearing amazing gold jewellery (and here the singer sounds as if he were a troubadour praising the virtues of his lady), and then she is equated with natural images crossing over through the air.