My Favorite songs the world: Part II...
I’ve always liked the Rolling Stones, which is to say in the language of a teenage rock & roll enthusiast hooked on heavy metal, I never hated them, but my total emersion into the Stones undeniable greatness began with a cassette copy of Sticky Fingers which I had serendipitously ganked from my sister. It was down in my basement living room that the transformation took place and for no other reason than to hear something different I tossed into the player. It was a slow draw at first. I remember the first thing that grabbed me and made me pay attention was the opening vocal intro to “Sister Morphine”:
Tell me Sister Morphine, when are ya comin’ ‘round again,
awe cause I don’t think I can wait that long...
Wow. Then the slide guitar. Now I’ve stopped what ever it was I was doing.
The scream of the ambulance is sounding in my ear,
tell me Sister Morphine how long have I been lyin’ here…
Now I’m sitting down on the couch completely captivated.
In the days that followed, I began bumming one of my siblings Walkman if I had to walk the dogs or run across the street to the PX and the only cassette I had within reach was Sticky Fingers. It was the headphone listening that really helped me hear the genius that is The Rolling Stones. I have to implore that everybody get a copy of this absolutely perfect album if you don’t have it already and listen to it with headphones on. There is so much that gets missed just cranking it up loud on speakers (not that this record can’t be cranked up loud, quite the contrary). With headphones you hear Keith and Mick Taylor just tearing it up with the twin guitar assault. You hear stuff that you missed the thousand billion other times it came on the radio like the acoustic guitar accompaniment in “Brown Sugar”, or the strange twisted piano parts in Sister Morphine, etc…
For weeks I’d play one particular side of that cassette, each time delving further into the deeper cuts. This is how I digest an album. Playing the songs I like repetitively and then letting it run a track or two into the others before lifting the needle/hitting rewind/hitting replay and going back to the familiar. It was during one of these instances that I discovered my favorite Rolling Stone song ever.
The mood was perfect. It was 3:30 in the morning on a weekday summer night, and I had just walked home after being out at a local bar with my friends. I grabbed the walkman before jumping into bed, dropped the cassette in, clicked play, and as my head hit the pillow Mick Taylor slow picked the opening G chord to “I Got the Blues”. In the distance, Keith answered the cadence of the straight picked chords with the saddest forlorn notes I had ever heard. I was blown away. Then, Mick Jagger’s vocal, “As I stand by your flame, I get burned once again, feeling low down, and blue...”. With the headphones on, you can hear him hold the tail note in “blue” as it blends into the guitar parts. I then understood that Mick Jagger was no slouch and clearly lived up to the hype. The guy knows his shit about singing blues music. From then on it was no longer just Mick the rooster flapping around and yelling “Shattered, Shattered…”. The A major break with the harmony gave me chills and just when they began to subside, Billy Preston rips into his organ solo and I knew I was going to be studying this song for years to come.
I must have rewound “I Got the Blues” twenty times before falling asleep that night. Pure perfection incarnated in the form of song. With each subsequent listen there were more perfect parts to be discovered. The song starts so sad in the beginning as he tries to let her go. He claims to want her to be happy with whomever she ends ups with. Then we get the horns (The horns, MY GOD THE HORNS!!!) loud and in front when Mick pleads with his unknown love during the crescendo finale. No more pretenses as he confesses that what he was saying before was bullshit, he wants her back and no amount of distance will change the way he feels.
I’M GONNA TEAR MY HAIR OUT JUST FOR YOU…
It all comes crashing down in the ending as Mick in complete exhaustion belts,
AND IF YOU DON"T BELIEVE WHAT I"M SAYIN'
AT THREE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING
BABY I’M SINGIN’ MY SONG TO YOU
We are left to wonder what her response was.
I’ve heard this song a billion times since and I get goose bumps each time I hear that guitar intro.
So here it is for your consideration and comment. Hit the Badongo player and give it a listen and tell me what you think.