Start Me Up by Rolling Stones Lyrics Meaning – Unpacking the Anthem of Perpetual Energy

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Rolling Stones's Start Me Up at
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning


If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop

You can start me up
You can start me up I’ll never stop
I’ve been running hot
You got me just about to blow my top
You can start me up, you can start me up,
I’ll never stop, never stop, never stop, never stop

You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry
Spread out the oil, the gasoline
I walk smooth ride in a mean, mean machine
Start it up

You can start me up
Kick on the starter, give it all you’ve got
(You got, you got)
I can’t compete
With the riders in the other heats
If you rough it up
If you like it you can slide it up, slide it up
Slide it up, slide it up
Don’t make a grown man cry
Don’t make a grown man cry
Don’t make a grown man cry
My eyes dilate, my lips go green
My hands are greasy, she’s a mean, mean machine
Start it up

Start me up
Ah, you’ve got to, you’ve got to
Never, never, never stop
Start it up
Ah, start it up, never, never, never
You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry
Ride like the wind, at double speed
I’ll take you places that you’ve never, never seen

You start it up
Love the day when we will never stop
Never stop, never, never, never stop
Tough me up
Never stop, never stop
You, you, you make a grown man cry
You, you make a dead man come,
You, you, you make a dead man come

Full Lyrics

Delving into the magnetic aura of The Rolling Stones’ immortal hit, ‘Start Me Up’, one finds more than a mere rock anthem—it’s a testament to untamed spirit and raw power. The track not only captures the essence of rock ‘n’ roll’s relentless pulse but also embodies a deeper resonance that transcends time.

Beneath its fiery riffs and Mick Jagger’s iconic vocals lie layers of significance awaiting dissection. Despite being a mainstay at sporting events and a cue for vivacity, there is a lyrical labyrinth within ‘Start Me Up’ that begs exploration. Let’s ignite the engines and delve into the core of The Stones’ exhilarating masterpiece.

The Engine That Could: Revving Up Rock ‘n’ Roll

At first listen, ‘Start Me Up’ serves as an ignition switch for the soul, a musical jolt that commands attention. The Stones had always been provocateurs of sound, dabbling in blues, country, and disco, but with this track, they distilled an essence that’s purely rock ‘n’ roll. Its driving beat and guitar licks are like cylinders in a roaring engine, propelling listeners into a state of unstoppable motion.

However, the beat does more than move—it captivates. Charlie Watts’ rhythm is a synonym for consistency, and Keith Richards’ unforgettable opening riff has been etched into the collective rock psyche. Together, they lay the groundwork for a song that’s as much a call to arms as it is a tribute to staying power.

Never Stop: The Mantra of the Eternal

Persistence and resilience radiate from the core of ‘Start Me Up’, echoing a sentiment that’s all too familiar to The Rolling Stones themselves. ‘I’ll never stop’ isn’t just a catchy hook; it’s a declaration of endurance, a mantra for the band that’s endured the infamous ups and downs of rock stardom.

This motif resonates with anyone who has ever faced adversity head-on, imbuing the song with a relatability that elevates it beyond its surface-level rock bravado. It speaks to the human condition: our desire to keep going, to persist, to ‘never, never, never stop’.

Metaphors of Fueled Desires: The Hidden Meaning

Within ‘Start Me Up’, the metaphors Mick Jagger employs are ripe with innuendo—’Spread out the oil, the gasoline’, ‘Ride like the wind, at double speed’. These aren’t just references to cars or machines; they’re emblematic of human passion, drive, and the thirst for life. The raw sexuality and primal urges evident in these lines are classic Stones, provocative yet poetic.

Behind the visceral imagery is a layered message about the convergence of human and mechanical endurance. It’s a narrative about harnessing energy, revving up our internal engines, and pushing our limits. There’s a sense that with the right spark, namely love or inspiration, we too can achieve perpetual motion.

Cries of the Human Condition: Poignancy in Repetition

An undercurrent of vulnerability pulses through the song, with the refrain ‘You make a grown man cry’ playing foil to the unyielding exterior. It contrasts raw power with emotional sensitivity, suggesting that beneath the facade of toughness, there is a susceptibility to feeling—whether it be through frustration, longing, or the impact of another’s influence.

This line serves as a reminder that even the most resilient of us carry within the capacity for emotional expression. The Stones capture the complexity of masculinity, offering a nuanced look at strength—not as the absence of feeling, but as an embrace of its depth.

The Immortal Lines: Quotables that Define Eras

‘You make a dead man come’—here lies the quintessential Stones provocation, blending the gothic with the erotic in a way that only they can. It’s the epitome of the band’s flirtation with mortality and vitality, tangled in a way that leaves the line reverberating through decades.

These words, perhaps more than any others in ‘Start Me Up’, typify the band’s brazen approach to songwriting. They’re a reminder that The Stones are not just musicians but poets of the visceral, capable of conjuring images that are as indelible as the riffs that accompany them.

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