I don’t often talk about single songs these days (that’s Steve For The Deaf’s territory!), but I wanna talk about a Stones song I’ve loved for years. It came up in a mix the other day, and I got to thinking about it a bit more, so I’ll ramble a bit. To me, it really is three parts in one song. It also influenced others, and is (possibly, though it’s been denied) influenced by others. I’ll be brief. Check it:
Found on Sticky Fingers (1971). You knew that.
Part I: The opening is pure rough and dirty, bluesy, fuzzy, chunky Stones riff rawk. I mean, goddamn. That open G monster has a swing, a shake, and a groove to it. There’s no overplaying, it’s sparse and gorgeous, like so many Stones riffs. Some bands spend their whole careers trying to write a riff as good, and for these guys it wasn’t even a single. Crazy.
Part II: The chorus bit is rousing, in a spaced-out sort of way. It all sounds like it could fall apart at any minute yet it never quite does. I’d wager it was this bit that the Black Crowes lifted for their track, My Morning Song. Of course, the Crowes owe such a massive debt to the Stones (and others, it’s true) for even sounding like they often do, so this should come as no surprise.
Part III: And then, at 2:43, the song takes its final form as an instrumental jam, complete with conga drums (RIP Rocky Dijon), saxophone (RIP Bobby Keys), and organ (RIP Billy Preston). Jeez, all three gone… Anyway, it’s a jazzy blues jam to the outro in extended guitar solos, starting at 4:40, by Keith Richards and Mick Taylor, and by the time it ambles past the seven minute mark (!) we’re so far from the opening riff that it’s like we left the planet.
Now, I’d swear that inspiration for some of this part came from Carlos Santana’s recognizable sound, but Keef says otherwise: “The jam at the end wasn’t inspired by Carlos Santana. We didn’t even know they were still taping. We thought we’d finished. We were just rambling and they kept the tape rolling. I figured we’d just fade it off. It was only when we heard the playback that we realised, Oh, they kept it going. Basically we realised we had two bits of music. There’s the song and there’s the jam.”
And it seems Mick Taylor has his story in line with Keef’s: “”Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” … is one of my favourites … [The jam at the end] just happened by accident; that was never planned. Towards the end of the song I just felt like carrying on playing. Everybody was putting their instruments down, but the tape was still rolling and it sounded good, so everybody quickly picked up their instruments again and carried on playing. It just happened, and it was a one-take thing. A lot of people seem to really like that part.”
I guess that’s that, then!
In looking it up, I, too, learned something new: In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine listed it at number 25 on its list of “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.” Damn.
Alright, enough. Here’s the tune. Crank it!