Hang Fire

"Hang Fire" is a song by rock and roll band The Rolling Stones from their 1981 album Tattoo You.

"Hang Fire"
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Tattoo You
ReleasedApril 1982
Recorded1978–1979 (basic track), 1981 (overdubs)
GenreHard rock, pop rock
LabelRolling Stones
Producer(s)The Glimmer Twins
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
"Waiting on a Friend"
"Hang Fire"
"Going to a Go-Go"
Tattoo You track listing
11 tracks
Side one
  1. "Start Me Up"
  2. "Hang Fire"
  3. "Slave"
  4. "Little T&A"
  5. "Black Limousine"
  6. "Neighbours"
Side two
  1. "Worried About You"
  2. "Tops"
  3. "Heaven"
  4. "No Use in Crying"
  5. "Waiting on a Friend"

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Hang Fire" is a fast-paced, up-tempo rock and roll track, which belies the happy beat with sharp, satirical lyrics directed squarely at England's economic decline through the 1970s.

The song is a bleak look at English society of the time.[1] The lyrics lament an unemployed working class Englishman who would rather bet the horses than try to marry into the upper class, the only way to get ahead in English society.

The song is one of the few times the band wrote an overtly political song, and it is notable that it was never released as a single in England, even though the band was touring Europe during the single's North American release. The lyrical irony and commentary on English society harks back to some of the group's more socially contentious songs of the sixties such as "Mother's Little Helper", "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "Street Fighting Man".

Richards was asked about the track in a 1981 Rolling Stone magazine interview where he admits the track relates to England and the "ugly politicians" who had caused the country to decline when the "money got tight".[2]

The title expression "hang fire" (by formal definition) means to do nothing, to delay, wait, hold back, or hesitate.[3] The phrase originally denoted the instance when a gun, using an antique type of ignition such as percussion cap, or flintlock, would fail or markedly delay to fire when the trigger was pulled.

"Hang Fire" was first written and recorded during the Some Girls sessions in Paris. Released as the third single from Tattoo You, the song became a radio hit in the US, where it reached No. 20 on the singles chart. The song was played heavily on the Stones' tours of 1981 and 1982, but has been played scarcely since. Its B-side, "Neighbours", would become an airplay hit and a video was also made for the song.

"Hang Fire" is heard in edited form in the 2010 movie The Bounty Hunter.


  1. Brummer, Alex. "ANALYSIS by ALEX BRUMMER: Nick Clegg's retro wealth tax plan will stifle Britain's economic growth". This is Money. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  2. "Keith Richards – Interview". Rolling Stone (magazine) 12 November 1981
  3. "Hang fire - Idioms by The Free Dictionary". Idioms.thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
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