Stones Week: Dan Mitchell's Favorite Rolling Stones Tunes

August 7, 2019
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We feel extraordinarily fortunate to have our good friend Dan Mitchell return this week to share some of his favorite Rolling Stones tunes with his fans!

TUMBLING DICE- The “laid back” groove of this song sucked me in from the first listen.  Keith’s riff (he carries them around in his pocket) is the basis for the tune. The guys were all in France while they were recording Exile on Main Street.  They would sleep during the day and record at night with whoever was around.  Tumbling Dice features Mick Taylor on bass for the absent Bill Wyman.  Keith plays lead guitar while Mick handles the rhythm guitar.  

As was the case with Merrie Clayton on Gimme Shelter, Mick’s vocals are pushed up by an accompanying vocal, this time it’s the trio of Clydie King, Venetta Fields and Sherlie Matthews.  He treads a soulful arc imbued with the blues.  Using gambling as a metaphor for sex.  That’s our Mick. 

We all have songs we reach for the radio to crank up each time we hear them. Tumbling Dice is certainly one of mine!

 

STREET FIGHTING MAN- If ever a song oozed the unrest of 1968, it’s Street Fighting Man.  How fitting that The Stones opened their Chicago show (home of the protest marred 1968 Democratic Convention) with it. 

Mick found inspiration for the song not here, but in the rising violence among student rioters on Paris' Left Bank, the precursor to a period of civil unrest in May 1968.

He explained in a 1968 Rolling Stone interview:

Yeah, it was a direct inspiration, because by contrast, London was very quiet ... It was a very strange time in France. But not only in France but also in America, because of the Vietnam War and these endless disruptions ... I thought it was a very good thing at the time. There was all this violence going on. I mean, they almost toppled the government in France; de Gaulle went into this complete funk, as he had in the past, and he went and sort of locked himself in his house in the country. And so, the government was almost inactive. And the French riot police were amazing.

The song begins with an edgy acoustic guitar and the lyrical open quite succinctly describes our world in 1968:

Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
'Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy

Hey! think the time is right for a palace revolution, but where I live the game to play is compromise solution

Hey, said my name is called Disturbance; I'll shout and scream, I'll kill the King, I'll rail at all his servants

Street Fighting Man is a shining example of how a song can capture a moment in time and with words and music in lockstep, take us there, time and time again.  It’s history and it’s brilliant!

 

SHE’S A RAINBOW- This is such an uncharacteristic song for Mick and the boys.  My love of it goes right to the “music-box” piano intro and interludes playfully performed by the amazing Nicky Hopkins. It’s so mischievous! 

With the John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) arranged strings playing out-of-tune and off-key towards the end of the song, and the Stones singing their "La La's" like little children, the pure innocence of a rare libido free Rolling Stones’ song about women is an unexpected joy.

As I listen, in my mind’s eye, I see “The Lady Faire” and she is indeed a rainbow!

 

IT’S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL (But I Like It)- On its surface the song is a rock anthem, dig deeper and it’s a response to those critical of The Rolling Stones’ progression as a band. 

The meaning of the lyrics was summed up by Jagger in the liner notes to the 1993 compilation Jump Back; "The idea of the song has to do with our public persona at the time. I was getting a bit tired of people having a go, all that, 'oh, it's not as good as their last one' business. The single sleeve had a picture of me with a pen digging into me as if it were a sword. It was a lighthearted, anti-journalistic sort of thing."

If I could stick my pen in my heart, and spill it all over the stage;

Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya, would you think the boy is strange? Ain't he strange?

If I could win ya, if I could sing ya, a love song so divine,

Would it be enough for your cheatin' heart, If I broke down and cried? If I cried?

I said I know it's only rock 'n roll but I like it…

As you listen to the song, you’ll hear future Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood on record with the band for the first time.  He plays an acoustic twelve string.

I chose this as one of my favorite Stones’ tunes for 3 reasons;

  • It’s an evolved rock anthem owing its story to the ravenous expectations of critics and fans
  • Keith’s crunchy-distorted guitar lead
  • The best “Oh-Yeah” in the history of rock (at 2:40 in the song)

Rock on Stones fans and thanks for listening to The Mountain!

 

To see Allie Hartwick's favorites, click HERE

To see Robb Hart's favorites, click HERE

To see Cathy Taylor's favorites, click HERE

Dan Hardee's favorites will be up tomorrow and The G-Man's on Friday so don't forget to come back and check 'em out!