Lyric Analysis: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I was listening to the Glee version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” the other day, and I thought I would start a segment in my blog called lyric analysis.  The Rolling Stones were the first ones to sing this song. Lyrics:

The chorus says, “No, you can’t always get what you want, You can’t always get what you want, You can’t always get what you want, But if you try sometime you find, You get what you need.”  Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God supplies every need of yours, according to the riches in Jesus Christ our Lord.”  I know this verse really well because it was one of the verses we taught to the kids, and Jenny even made up a song to it (think “Row, row, row your boat” and sing it to yourself).  Now, in the song, what are the different wants?  Love, politics, drugs?  “Anonymous” said on lyric that this song refers to “different ways of feeling dissatisfied with life and how we cope with that with other things.”  I studied Freud in a psychology class sophomore year, and he had seven “auxiliary constructions” (Westphal 39).  These include in layman’s terms getting drunk, stress-relieving (or, killing animal-instinct?), workaholism, escaping into another world (i.e. watch TV), illusion, “Oedipus Rex Syndrome”, or go insane.  I agree that we, as humankind, find things and create wants because we are dissatisfied with our life.  But is there another solution than to create something equally dissatisfying to attempt to satisfy life?  You bet!  And that’s what I like writing about most: JESUS CHRIST!

It’s like trying to quench thirst with Mountain Dew: you’ll get dehydrated unless you drink some water, as well.  At Gear-Up we discussed this analogy a little more in depth.  The water I’m getting at, of course, is the living water of Jesus.  The Mountain Dew pretty much refers to everything else that isn’t water.  I have struggled a lot with wants versus needs in the past.  I have come to realize that all I need is Christ!  How, you ask?  Good question.

THE HOLY SPIRIT.  Not much is known about the Spirit compared to the Father and the Son.  However, the Spirit is a person distinguished in the trinity.  The Spirit totally has character, too.  It can be lied to (Acts 5:3), filled with sorrow (Ephesians 4:30), it can teach (Luke 12:12), it can lead and direct (Acts 20:28), and much more.  All Christians have the Sprit in their heart—as soon as Jesus is asked to be in a person’s heart, BOOM!  The Sprit is there, and IT CAN’T LEAVE YOU.  The analogy used during Project was that of chocolate poured into a glass of milk.  It’s always there, but when it is mixed in with the rest of the milk, it makes chocolate milk.  Aka….you are always in dwelt, but not always empowered.  We cannot live the Christian life on our own, with the chocolate at the bottom of the glass.  It doesn’t work that way.  That’s bringing the wants that we create and putting them before our needs.  And how do we get the chocolate mixed in with the rest of the milk?  To choose water over the Mountain Dew?  Good question.  Let me answer that for you.

Wow, this got pretty off topic.  But it’s good stuff.  And thank you for still reading!  This is a really good exercise I do to keep me walking with the Sprit all day:  it’s called spiritual breathing.  “But Anna,” you say, “I’m always breathing.”  Yes, I know, but this is SPIRITUAL BREATHING.  Exhale: Confess your sin the moment you become aware of it—agree with God concerning it and thank him for his forgiveness.  Inhale: Surrender control of your life to Christ, and rely upon the Spirit to fill you with its presence and power by faith.  It takes practice, don’t worry.  I sometimes forget, but it makes me happy when I do—I forget about my impractical wants and I am reminded of my only need, which is Christ!

The Bible lets us know, though, that God sees the desires of our hearts and will answer them.  He’s not mean, and says that all you need is all you’re getting.  I was kinda surprised when I discovered that.  As long as you seek Christ, he will supply your needs.  You don’t always get what you want, even if you keep asking God for it (he’s not Santa Clause, you know), but you just might find, he’ll work everything out.  Because he’s awesome!


I saw her today at the reception

A glass of wine in her hand

I knew she would meet her connection

At her feet was her footloose man


No, you can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometime you find

You get what you need


We went down to the demonstration

To get your fair share of abuse

Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration

If we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse”




I went down to the Chelsea drugstore

To get your prescription filled

I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy

And man, did he look pretty ill

We decided that we would have a soda

My favorite flavor, cherry red

I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy

Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”

I said to him




You get what you need–yeah, oh baby


I saw her today at the reception

In her glass was a bleeding man

She was practiced at the art of deception

Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands


Chorus (2x)


Questions, comments, concerns?  Leave me a comment or email me at! (I’d love to hear your feedback!)


I love you all!  Smiles Squared, Anna =)^2


Rolling Stones: You Can’t Always Get What You Want Meaning.  Lyric Interpretations.  Lyric Interpretations, 5 Feb. 2011.  23 Aug. 2011.  Web.

Westphal, “Suspicion & Faith.”  New York: Fordham University Press, 1998.  Text.


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