Weekly Feature

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Playlist: Five Reasons The Rolling Stones Rule

April 29, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
In accordance with the “Playlist” rule of five, five reasons why you just can’t shake The Rolling Stones.

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It’s been more than 40 years since The Rolling Stones emerged on the British music scene, and they remain a phenomenon: peerless, prolific and deeply invested in modern music.

Four decades of stage presence

In the mid-1960s, The Rolling Stones regularly appeared on the BBC’s televised music showcase, “Ready, Steady, Go!,” alongside The Beach Boys, The Beatles and The Who—sometimes all in the same episode. Polite and soft-spoken in the post-performance interviews, Mick Jagger had an electric stage presence, much to the delight of screaming (and sometimes sobbing) female fans. Below is a video of the group performing “Under My Thumb” in 1965.

Candor

Each Stone is different, and no Stone leaves his opinions unturned. In an interview from the early 1970s, Mick Jagger expresses his honest opinions of the press and fans. Naturally, listeners are keen to see political, literary and religious connections in music; Jagger says that in the case of the Stones, many of these associations are “rubbish.” Jagger’s clear disappointment with the press is obvious, but it has never interfered with the band’s popularity.

What are the Stones singing about, if not the things we think they are? Keith Richards put it aptly in a 1973 interview: it’s hard to get “worked up over [former British prime minister] Edward Heath.” More often than not, the songs steer clear of politics and focus on love.

Rhythm and blues

Blues legend Robert Johnson has often been brought up in interviews with the Stones, and it’s true that blues is prominent among the band’s numerous musical influences; many of their first songs were early R&B covers. On albums like the masterful “Exile on Main Street,” the band laid the groundwork for a sound that could be both heavy, dirty rock and soulful, sad blues at the same time. Rather than being angsty, the subjects of love, longing and “packing my bags” in the song “Soul Survivor” somehow march forward: Keith Richards’s and Ronnie Woods’s gritty guitar work slams into Jagger’s howls and the backup vocalists’ soaring echoes. The song shows an energy and hardiness that still exists today in Stones performances, as evidenced by the following 2003 rendition of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” a big hit from the album “Main Street.”

A steady stream of tours

Friendship

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