Rock Moment: Nastiest Rolling Stones songs
(Editor’s Note: This entire post – the text, the music, hell even the photos – should be considered NFSW, especially after the jump. And don’t expect me to explain any of the following. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you are certainly in the wrong place. This is the Rolling Stones, after all.)
There’s been a bit of hoopla the past few days about the pending re-release of Exile On Main Street, the 1972 classic album by the Rolling Stones. The new version, to be in stores Tuesday, features a remastered album and some outtakes that may or may not have been subject to some 21st-century tinkering.
Perhaps one of the best things about Exile On Main Street is its legend – the album was formulated by the band along with various girlfriends, drug dealers, hangers-on and such at a French chateau where the band had relocated in order to escape British tax authorities. The scene was decadent to say the least, and a lot of that debauchery found its way into the grooves of Exile. (This story from the New York Post goes into all the detail you should require.)
Of course, the Rolling Stones are rock’s ultimate bad boys – Keith Moon may have tried, but no one will ever top the Stones for sheer rock and roll revelry. These boys were (and still are) the quintessential rock stars. As they lived the life, they also sang about it. So here, to celebrate the re-emergence of Exile on Main Street, are some of the Stones’ other most nastiest moments. In ah … ascending order!
1. “Brand New Car” (from Voodoo Lounge, 1994) – You would think by this time the boys would be a little tamer – after all, they were in their ’50s when this was recorded. “I got a brand new car,” sings Mick Jagger, “and I like to drive real hard.” Mmm-hmm. Now he’s going to take her on the highway for a little spin, and uh oh- he’s gonna jack her up baby, and open up her hood. Mick’s giving her some stick to get her motor running and … finally he invites you to “go ahead, feel the fur.” Ah, yes. (Voodoo Lounge was a real fun album, if you like this kind of thing – check out “Sparks Will Fly” and “Suck On The Jugular,” hahaha.)
2. “Brown Sugar” (from Sticky Fingers, 1971) – Let it be said right off the bat: “Brown Sugar” was a No. 1 radio hit back in 1971. Of course, that era’s radio also played the Kinks’ “Lola” (about a transvestite), “Walk On The Wild Side” by Lou Reed (about god-knows-what) and so on. “Brown Sugar” is perhaps the naughtiest of all – not that you can make out the lyrics by listening to the song. I’ve listened to this song pretty much since it came out and I still had to Google it to get the correct lyrics. It’s about some hot nights down in New Orleans with the slaves, with an old slaver who you can “Hear him whip the women just around midnight” and that house boy who “knows what he’s doin’ alright.” And of course the song’s chorus goes “Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good/A-ha brown sugar just like a young girl should.” Uh, I think the history lesson’s over kids!
3. “Let It Bleed” (from Let It Bleed, 1969) – This really isn’t so bad, considering the era in which this song was recorded. This song’s mission statement is its first lines: “Well, we all need someone we can lean on/And if you want it, well you can lean on me.” Then “She said my breasts they will always be open” but that’s only if you need a place to rest your weary head. But then she continues “there will always be a space in my parking lot” and we know why: see No. 1 above. So a little later, the sentiment gets sloppier: “Well we all need someone we can cream on” and I don’t think they’re talking about dairy products, but it’s OK because “if you want to, you can cream on me.” That’s nice.
4. “Star Star” (from Goat’s Head Soup, 1973) – Here we have this touching little tale apparently about a groupie that someone grew tired of. The chorus cuts no crap: “Yeah you’re a star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker … (repeat 10 more times). Some endearing details emerge in the verses, like “Your tricks with fruit was kinda cute/I bet you keep your pussy clean.” Produce aside, the singer believes that this little, ah, “star” will eventually take Steve McQueen away from Ali McGraw and may even tempt Mr. Patriotic, John Wayne his own bad self. Now when this song was recorded the Stones wanted to simply title it “Starfucker” but cooler heads at their record label prevailed. Of course, that didn’t stop them from performing the song in concert (see Love You Live, 1977).
5. “Cocksucker Blues” (pretty much unreleased, 1970) – This song was written as a special “goodbye” to Decca Records when the Stones’ contract ended with that label. Naturally it’s as raunchy as can be, and it was done intentionally just to piss off the label bigwigs. “Cocksucker Blues” was also the title of a documentary film made by artist Robert Frank on the making of Exile On Main Street. Frank, who also shot the album’s cover art, chronicled the Stones’ 1972 in support of Exile but was shitcanned after the band members were shocked at how much (apparently accurate) detail the movie went into. Anyway, it brings us back to where we began – with Exile On Main Street – and one listen to “Cocksucker Blues” will tell you all you need to know.
I know I’ve left out one or two of your favorites – “Honky Tonk Women,” “Live With Me,” the list goes on forever.