Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Rough Justice" was a heavily collaborative effort like many of the lead singer and guitarist's latter-day compositions. On the writing, Richards said in 2005, "That came to me in my sleep. It's almost like "Satisfaction". Yeah, I almost sort of woke up and said, 'Where's my guitar?' Sometimes you do dream a riff, you know? I had to get up, and it's really hard to get me up. Once I go down, I go down, you know? But, I mean, it's only a song that could get me up and start running around the room, 'Where's my guitar, where did I put my guitar, before I forget it?' I don't often remember dreams, only when they're musical."
A straight ahead rocker, but sets the scene of a long time, up and down, love affair between the singer and the subject:
|“||One time you were my baby chicken, Now you've grown into a fox; Once upon a time I was your little rooster, But now I'm just one of your cocks.||”|
|“||It's rough justice, oh yeah, We never thought it risky; It's rough justice, But you know I'll never break your heart; You're feeling loose and lusty, So if you really want me, Yeah, it's rough justice; And you know I'll never break your heart.||”|
Recording began at La Fourchette, Posé sur Cisse, France in June 2005. With Jagger on lead vocals and backing electric rhythm guitar, Richards plays electric rhythm (including the riff). Ronnie Wood plays the song's distinct electric slide guitar, including the song's opening intro and solo. Darryl Jones plays bass while Charlie Watts plays drums. Chuck Leavell plays the song's piano.
"Rough Justice" was released as a double A-side with "Streets of Love" on 22 August 2005. It charted at #15 on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, the song peaked at #25 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
The song has been performed heavily by the Stones on their A Bigger Bang Tour and is featured on their latest concert DVD release, The Biggest Bang. It was also one of the three songs played by the Stones during the halftime show for Super Bowl XL although the word "cocks" was censored on the ABC broadcast.
It was included in their greatest hits album GRRR!.