A new lyric video is launched today (5) for the Rolling Stones’ 1966 classic and chart smash ‘19th Nervous Breakdown.’ It coincides with the 53rd anniversary of the song’s first release.
The clip is inspired by the Op art style, so named by Time magazine in 1964 to describe a type of optical art based on optical illusions. The artform was at its peak as the Stones’ single came to prominence, and by playing with the viewer’s perception of reality, the video complements the theme of the Jagger-Richards composition and its theme of a fractured mind.
The clip is treated to evoke the style of a 1960s television show with an “aged” aesthetic. The typography that appears with each chorus of the song was inspired by an original seven-inch sleeve featuring “cracked” text.
‘19th Nervous Breakdown’ was written by Mick and Keith during the Stones’ North American tour of autumn 1965. It was issued in the UK on 5 February 1966 as the follow-up to ‘Get Off Of My Cloud.’ On the Record Retailer chart that is the standard UK archive reference, the song peaked at No. 2, spending three weeks behind Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin”. But on the New Musical Express chart, ‘Breakdown’ went to No. 1.
On the Billboard Hot 100, by a remarkable coincidence, the single also spent three weeks at No. 2 in March and early April 1966, beaten only by Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler’s ‘The Ballad of the Green Berets.’ The Stones’ release also peaked at No. 2 in South Africa, Norway and New Zealand, but went all the way to No. 1 in Germany for two weeks, before the Sinatra single took over for the following six.
Asked about ’19th Nervous Breakdown’ and its lyrics by the NME’s Keith Altham in February 1966, Jagger said: “We’re not Bob Dylan, y’know. It’s not supposed to mean anything. It’s just about a neurotic bird, that’s all. I thought of the title first – it just sounded good.”
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