How Linda Ronstadt Changed the Lyrics of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Tumbling Dice’

Many of Linda Ronstadt’s songs were covers. For example, she performed a bluesy rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice.” Ronstadt revealed why she decided to cover the track.

Linda Ronstadt wearing a jacket and standing in front of a microphone
Linda Ronstadt | Paul Natkin/Getty Images

The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger wasn’t a huge fan of ‘Tumbling Dice’

Exile on Main St. is one of The Rolling Stones’ most famous albums. The Guardian says the band mostly recorded the album in 1971 in a house called Villa Nellcôte located in the South of France. Keith Richards was renting the house at the time.

While crafting Exile on Main St., The Rolling Stones had an irregular work schedule. That irregular schedule didn’t stop the band from writing popular songs for Exile on Main St., like “Tumbling Dice.” While the song became famous, Mick Jagger wasn’t a huge fan of it.

“I don’t think it’s our best stuff,” he told Rolling Stone. “I don’t think it has good lyrics. But people seem to really like it, so good for them.” Interestingly, Jagger didn’t remember who wrote the melody of the song and he didn’t care.

The Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice”

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Why Linda Ronstadt decided to cover ‘Tumbling Dice’

Ronstadt told Pop Matters how she came to cover “Tumbling Dice.” “The Rolling Stones were staying out in Malibu for a while,” she recalled. “Ronnie Wood had a place. Mick taught it to me. I felt like I could sing ‘Tumbling Dice’ because I really identified with the lyrics.”

Ronstadt changed the opening lines of the song for her cover version. The Rolling Stones’ version begins with “Women think I’m tasty /but they’re always tryin’ to waste me/make me burn the candle right down.” Ronstadt’s version opens with the lines “People try to rape me/always think I’m crazy/make me burn the candle right down.” She revealed she changed the lyrics to reflect issues that often accompany fame. “When you’re exposed to a wide segment of the public, somebody’s trying to violate you in some way, but it was nothing like it is now with internet trolls,” Ronstadt said.

Linda Ronstadt’s “Tumbling Dice”

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How the public reacted to the 2 versions of ‘Tumbling Dice’

The Rolling Stones’ version of “Tumbling Dice” was a success. In 1972, it reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the chart for 10 weeks. The Official Charts Company reports the song charted higher in the United Kingdom, reaching No. 5 and staying on the chart for eight weeks.

The Rolling Stones performing “Tumbling Dice”

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Ronstadt released her version of the song in 1978. It peaked at No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for eight weeks. On the other hand, The Official Charts Company says her version of the song didn’t chart in the U.K. Although Ronstadt’s version of “Tumbling Dice” was not quite as successful as The Rolling Stones’, it still found an audience in the United States.

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