“She’s a Rainbow” is a song by the Rolling Stones and was featured on their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request. It has been called “the prettiest and most uncharacteristic song” that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote for the Stones, although somewhat ambiguous in intention.
The song includes rich lyricism, vibrant piano by Nicky Hopkins and Brian Jones’ use of the Mellotron. The second verse includes:
Have you seen her all in gold,
Like a queen in days of old?
She shoots colours all around
like a sunset going down.
Have you seen a lady fairer?
John Paul Jones, later of Led Zeppelin, arranged the strings of this song during his session days. Backing vocals were provided by the entire band except for Charlie Watts. The lyrics in the chorus share the phrase “she comes in colours” with the song of that title by Love, released in December 1966.
The song begins with the piano playing an ascending scale, which returns throughout the song as a recurring motif. This motif is developed by the celesta and strings in the middle 8. Humorous and ambiguous devices are used, such as when the strings play out-of-tune and off-key towards the end of the song, and when the other Stones sing their “La La’s” like little children.
“She’s a Rainbow” was released as a single in December 1967 and went to No. 25 in the US. It has regularly featured on Stones’ hits compilations, including Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) (1969), More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies) (1972), 30 Greatest Hits (1977), Singles Collection: The London Years (1989), Forty Licks (2002), and GRRR! (2012). It was performed occasionally on the 1997–98 Bridges to Babylon Tour. The Stones also played the song by public request in Santiago, Chile and São Paulo, Brazil during their América Latina Olé Tour 2016 in February 2016.
In the 2011/12 season finale of Saturday Night Live, host Mick Jagger was in a “graduation” skit where the band Arcade Fire and the SNL cast performed “She’s a Rainbow” as a tribute to departing cast member Kristen Wiig. In the sketch, Wiig is a student who was held back and is finally graduating after seven years to leave SNL to become a nun. Although Jagger does not sing “She’s a Rainbow”, he returns at the end of the skit, along with a number of SNL alumni, to join in the song “Ruby Tuesday”.
Mick Jagger – vocals, percussion
Keith Richards – acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Brian Jones – Mellotron, percussion, backing vocals
Bill Wyman – bass, backing vocals
Charlie Watts – drums
Nicky Hopkins – piano, celesta
String arrangement by John Paul Jones