Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, recording on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” began during the Beggars Banquet sessions of 1968. Regarding the song’s distinctive sound, guitarist Richards has said:
I used a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic tuned to open D, six string. Open D or open E, which is the same thing – same intervals – but it would be slackened down some for D. Then there was a capo on it, to get that really tight sound. And there was another guitar over the top of that, but tuned to Nashville tuning. I learned that from somebody in George Jones’ band in San Antonio in 1964. The high-strung guitar was an acoustic, too. Both acoustics were put through a Philips cassette recorder. Just jam the mic right in the guitar and play it back through an extension speaker.
Richards has stated that he and Jagger wrote the lyrics while staying at Richards’ country house, where they were awoken one morning by the sound of gardener Jack Dyer walking past the window. When Jagger asked what the noise was, Richards responded: “Oh, that’s Jack – that’s jumpin’ Jack.” The rest of the lyrics evolved from there. Humanities scholar Camille Paglia speculated that the song’s lyrics might have been partly inspired by William Blake’s poem “The Mental Traveller”: “She binds iron thorns around his head / And pierces both his hands and feet / And cuts his heart out of his side / To make it feel both cold & heat.”