It’s All Over Now (1964)

The Rolling Stones

Written by Bobby Womack and Shirley Womack
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It's all over now stones“It’s All Over Now” is the first song Bruce Springsteen learned to play on the guitar. John Lennon told Keith Richards his guitar solo on the song sucked. Springsteen says it is brilliant. Chuck Berry liked the update of his sound. He should have. His “Memphis, Tennessee” and “Maybellene” can clearly be heard in “It’s All Over Now.”

Without jumping into that dog fight, it’s best to focus not on the short, mid-song solo, but rather on the introductory lead guitar(s), clashing lines that foretell of much more complex guitar interplay from The Stones and countless other groups. The little licks tossed in by Richards behind the vocals throughout the whole three and a half minutes of the song are especially noteworthy.

If it’s good enough for Chuck Berry, it’s good enough for us

Guitar duties are shared by Richards, who plays high on the frets, and Brian Jones, playing almost a bass-line dual lead. There is some speculation that Jones was playing a baritone guitar specially crafted for him, but no evidence exists; he merely tuned his guitar down and the recording magicians at venerable Chess Records in Chicago did the rest. The ultra-bright sound, innovative for the time, coupled with more of an old-fashioned heavy reverb, punches the track up considerably.

Speaking of the bass, Bill Wyman does a superb job of hustling and herding “It’s All Over Now” along, while Charlie Watts keeps a respectable backbeat that fits perfectly. Watts tosses in a few flourishes that are promises of things to come.

It's All over now

We’ve come to pick up your daughter

The multi-layered sound – especially the guitars – is the model on which Stones’ classics such as “Satisfaction,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin” and “Street Fighting Man” are built.

“It’s All Over Now,” written by Bobby Womack and his sister-in-law, Shirley Womack, as performed by The Rolling Stones, is an interpretation of the original execution (by Bobby and The Valentinos) that not only vastly improves upon the composition but is a complete modernization of the Chuck Berry style of Rock-N-Roll. The song was a smash.

It was The Stones’ first #1 hit in England and did fair to middling in America where the group was not yet well known, but served as one of a handful of powerful introductory songs to the U.S. audience.

It's All Over Now Womack Vals

Bobby Womack and The Valentinos

Initially Womack didn’t want The Stones to cover his very minor hit, but they bought the rights and made history with it. After it sold so well, Womack was exceedingly pleased with the royalties. Ironically, Womack’s version is well off Rock’s main avenue, practically a Dixieland Jazz rendition, the only crack part of the recording being Womack’s superior vocals, from which Mick Jagger drew considerable inspiration in attitude and phrasing. The Stones breathed a lot of life into a fairly pedestrian song.

While the lyrics for “It’s All Over Now” would not earn the writers duties as Poet Laureates, their raw sparseness is engaging enough to carry the song. It’s unusual that a tune uninhibitedly celebrates the end of a love affair, but “It’s All Over Now” does just that with buckets of gusto. The final verse sums up the sentiment perfectly:

I used to wake up in the morning, get my breakfast in bed
When I got worried she would ease my aching head
But now she’s here and there, with every man in town
Still trying to take me for that same old clown
Well I used to love her, but it’s all over now!

  • In one notorious live performance, Jagger, just starting down Bad Boy Road, changed the refrain to “I used to fuck her, but it’s all over now.”
  • Rod Stewart, who would cover “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” if you let him, did the tune with C+ results.

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