Florida has been compared to a little australia. we have lots of ways to die here. Where else can you be eaten by an alligator while getting struck by lighnining as you are hit head-on by a wrong-way driver? Now, as the temperatures climb, a yearly threat is re-emerging. The threat is an amoeba that lives in warm freshwater areas. Have you heard of amebic menengitis? It’s a nasty thing. almost 100% of the people whon bet it will not survive. It’s a brain-eating single-cellular organism that is extremely dangerous. But you CAn kepe yourself safe from it. While the amoeba is very rare, it is also very deadly. There has only been ONE case of a victim surviving amebic menengitis in the United States. The good news is, not only is the amoeba exceedingly rare, it’s also only found in very warm, fresh water. symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and a stiff neck. The amoeba can also affect balance, cognitive abilities and produce ahlluciunations or seizures. Before you ferak out and wrap your self in bubble wrap and Lysol, keep in mind that cases are extremely rare. The best way to avoid contracing the illness is to make sure no water gets up your nose. Examples of activities you should avoid in freshwater areas are wakeboarding, diving, tubing or anything that could force water into your nose. The best way to avoid getting sick after swimming in freshwater is to wear a nose clip. The amoeba does not exist in salt water or chlorinated pools or spas. Source: WTSP.com
Motley Crue’s Best 40 Songs
Motley Crue: Their 40 Best Songs, Ranked
A new track featured on the Crue’s first greatest hits compilation, “Angela” has a unique place in pop culture as Dwight and Angela danced to the song at their wedding in the series finale of ‘The Office,’ which was a clever use of a Crue tune since the band was Dwight’s go-to for when he needed to get pumped for a sales call or performance review.
Motley Crue is far from being a “political” band, but with “Fight For Your Rights,” we find the band taking on issues around race and invoking Martin Luther King Jr. The track closes out ‘Theatre of Pain,’ and while it only scratches the surface of race relations, it’s one of those tracks that’s always a surprise when revisiting the Crue catalog.
One of the rare Crue songs credited to all four members of the band, “Bitter Pill” was a new track that was included on 1998’s ‘Greatest Hits’ album. Oddly enough, when this compilation was reissued in 2009, “Bitter Pill” was omitted along with “Enslaved” (another new track released on the LP) and the remix of “Glitter” from ‘Generation Swine.’ In fact, “Bitter Pill” isn’t even available on streaming platforms right now, which is a shame because it’s a beyond catchy pop-rock tune.
The Crue’s 2005 compilation album ‘Red, White & Crue’ saw the band reunite for a second time in their history. (This time around, it was drummer Tommy Lee returning to the fold.) The 38-track set featured some of the Crue’s biggest hits, fan favorites and a few new tracks including “Sick Love Song,” which was penned by Nikki Sixx and James Michael who would go on to be the lead singer in Nikki’s side project aptly named Sixx: AM. It’s a great example of how even a quarter-century in, the Crue still had *it* and are a prime example of being greater than the sum of its parts.
The John Corabi-era with Motley Crue is a unique time to examine, because when you revisit 1995’s ‘Motley Crue’ -- the lone album the band released with Corabi as its singer -- it’s a pretty solid rock album. However, it just doesn’t *sound* like Motley Crue, so it feels out of place in the band’s catalog likely due to Nikki, Tommy and Mick playing to John’s strengths. “Loveshine” is the first of four tracks from that LP to appear on this list, and it’s the sound of ‘Led Zeppelin III’ hanging out with The Black Crowes. Great song, but it’s one of the last things you’d expect from Motley Crue.
If you listen to “Rattlesnake Shake” and think the horn section sounds an awful lot like the one used on Aerosmith’s “(Dude) Looks Like A Lady,” it’s because tenor saxophonist Tom Keenlyside, baritone saxophonist Ian Putz and trumpet player Henry Christian played on both tracks. (Fun fact, right?) Whether or not this was a planned homage to Aerosmith or just a happy accident, “Rattlesnake Shake” is one fun tune.
“Keep Your Eye On the Money” acts as a pseudo-title track on ‘Theatre of Pain,’ especially on the lyrics, “Comedy and tragedy/Entertainment or death/Like sister morphine/Hooked on her game/Time to place your bets,” which make subtle reference to the album’s cover. There’s a unique tension in the song. Clearly, the band knows it’s living life dangerously, but they just can’t stop because they have a big payday ahead. Definitely more depth to this song than you’d think.
Another rare topical song that closes out a Crue album, just like the aforementioned “Fight For Your Rights”! This time around, we find the band looking to the youth to push society forward to a better tomorrow. It’s almost as if Motley made their own version of “Greatest Love of All,” which shouldn’t work but it does. The Crue is joined by a host of background vocalists including all of Skid Row, which, once again, shouldn’t work but it does.
There’s no denying that when John Corabi was tapped to replace Vince Neil that Motley Crue’s sound drastically changed, but clearly the rise of grunge had an impact, too, as evident on “Power to the Music.” Opening the band’s self-titled 1994 album, the track is a gritty anthem that doesn’t get enough love in the Crue’s catalog.
‘Theatre of Pain’ was the Crue’s third studio album, and by that time, they were already rock stars, but on “Raise Your Hands To Rock,” they still look back fondly on the days before they were household names and just trying to make it. Simply put, it’s a fun track with a big sing-along chorus, which makes it puzzling as to why they only performed it live once at a December 1982 show in Santa Monica, Calif. according to Setlist.fm.
The glam influence is STRONG on “Toast of the Town,” the b-side to the Crue’s very first single “Stick to Your Guns,” which was featured on the original 1981 release of ‘Too Fast For Love’ but omitted on the 1982 re-release of the album once the band signed to Elektra records. The track would be included on the 2003 reissue of the album, and it’s a good thing it was because it is a ridiculously good time of a tune.
With the premiere of the film adaptation of ‘The Dirt’ and the band recording new tunes for the film’s soundtrack, we should’ve known Motley Crue was going to renege on their "Cessation of Touring Agreement" they signed before their "Final Tour" in 2014-15. Then again, with “The Dirt (Est. 1981),” which features Machine Gun Kelly who portrayed Tommy Lee in ‘The Dirt’ film, they clearly show they have plenty left in the tank. Hopefully, “The Stadium Tour” will *finally* happen in 2022. (Thanks a lot, coronavirus pandemic!)
Once again, the rise of grunge very much had an impact on Motley Crue, who incorporated elements from the genre on their eponymous 1994 album featuring John Corabi on vocals. If you want to get specific, the track seems very influenced by Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden and the whole vibe of Alice In Chains’ “I Stay Away,” particularly the strings on that track. The moment you realize it’s *really* a Motley Crue song is when Mick Mars launches into a slide guitar solo about four minutes into the 6:36 track. Definitely an underrated song or, perhaps, misunderstood.
The only thing more confusing than Motley Crue without Vince Neil is ‘Generation Swine,’ Neil’s first album back with the band following his firing back in 1992. There’s just *too* much going on with the album as far as musical directions are concerned, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t bright spots on the LP. The brightest of those spots lies with “Afraid,” the album’s lead single and a stealthy tender love song Nikki Sixx wrote when he was first seeing his eventual second wife, actress/’Playboy’ Playmate Donna D’Errico.
“Come On and Dance” is obviously a filthy song (“When she's on top/Well, you can't be stopped/Watch her scream/Watch her suck you clean”), but there’s something very charming about it. Perhaps it’s the minimalist arrangement and production or even the way it feels like Vince Neil is working through his vocal to determine his sound. Either way, it’s a great piece of glam metal.
“Modern times and new blood’s pumping/Only the strong survive” were the lyrics that closed out “Hooligan’s Holiday,” the lead single from the Crue’s self-titled 1994 studio LP featuring John Corabi on vocals. The obvious style change from the band due to having a new singer and to keep up with current trends was met with a mixed reaction at best, but since the release of ‘Motley Crue’ strong tracks like “Hooligan’s Holiday” have managed to survive. Sure, the Corabi era will always feel a little strange, but you can’t deny quality regardless of who’s behind the mic.
An underrated ballad with an interesting history, “If I Die Tomorrow” features songwriting credits from Nikki Sixx and the band Simple Plan. Bob Rock produced Simple Plan’s 2004’s studio album ‘Still Not Getting Any…,’ and “If I Die Tomorrow” was a track left over from the recording sessions. Rock then passed along the tune to the Crue, and after Sixx made some changes, the band recorded the song and was the lead single to their 2005 compilation album ‘Red, White & Crue.’ The band took things one step further in the song’s music video which depicted each Crue member reliving some of the most horrific moments in their lives, from Sixx nearly dying from a heroin overdose to Vince Neil’s drunk driving accident that resulted in the death of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle.
‘Saints of Los Angeles’ was Motley Crue’s first studio album following their reunion with Tommy Lee in 2004. At this point in their career, the band really had nothing left to prove, but that didn’t stop them from putting out one of their strongest singles in years with the title track, which is loosely about when the Crue first signed with Elektra Records in the ‘80s. (“We are, we are the saints/We signed our life away.”)
It’s unknown if there was a particular inspiration behind “Starry Eyes,” but if this Nikki Sixx-penned tune was about a specific woman, clearly Sixx had it *bad* for her. Looking back on Motley Crue’s first album and its raw energy, it’s amazing what the band grew to be and just how much they had *it* from nearly day one.
Judging by title alone, one would be quick to assume “Dancing On Glass” was about strippers which would be a proper fit on ‘Girls, Girls, Girls.’ However, the song’s subject matter is far grizzlier, and its second verse leaves little to the imagination it’s about drugs. (“Silver spoon and needle/Witchy tombstone smile/I’m not puppet/I engrave my veins with style.”) Even staring down a tough subject, Motley Crue still manages to churn out one hell of a rock song.
Mick Mars’ guitar tracks are just *so* damn good on “Without You,” a grand power ballad and third single from ‘Dr. Feelgood.’ The track was reportedly inspired by Tommy Lee’s relationship with Heather Locklear. While Tommy and Heather didn’t stand the test of time, “Without You” still does.
Motley Crue has a handful of covers in their catalog, but their take on Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” is, by far, their best. The cover was their lead single from ‘Theatre of Pain’ and would peak at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
Remember that thing about Motley Crue having *it* from nearly day one? “Piece of Your Action” is another prime example of that. It’s an undeniably dirty, sexy song. (Tight action, rear traction/So hot, you really blow me away/Fast moving, wet and ready/The time is right, so hang on tight.”) Perhaps most importantly, “Piece of Your Action” brilliantly showcases how valuable Mick Mars is to the whole Crue dynamic. It’s hard to imagine any other guitarist filling that role.
‘Theatre of Pain’ was a bit of a style departure compared to the Crue’s previous two studio albums, but “Tonight (We Need A Lover)” was proof those metal hellions from the Sunset Strip were very much part of the band’s identity. Tommy Lee providing a killer drum track is far from shocking, but the drums on “Tonight (We Need A Lover)” manage to reverberate in your gut.
The melodrama of “On With The Show” is equal parts Meat Loaf and Bruce Springsteen. It’s truly a wild Crue track that doesn’t get enough attention. “On With The Show” is a semi-autobiographical tale about Nikki Sixx (born Frank Feranna Jr.) and how he changed his name to distance himself from his absent father. (“Frankie died just the other night/Some say it was suicide/But we know/How the story goes.) Once again, so melodramatic!
Honestly, it’s the sexiest song about a quickie ever. Name me another song about a quickie that’s better. I’ll wait...
Along with Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” probably helped its fair share of strippers pay their way through college. In fact, the song name-checks seven different strip joints, and over three decades later, three of those clubs are still open: Tattletale Lounge in Atlanta; The Body Shop in West Hollywood, Calif.; and the Seventh Veil on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles where the band filmed the raunchy song’s music video.
Motley Crue is responsible for some of the greatest arena rock tunes ever, but few of their songs feel as tailor-made for arenas as “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)” Of course, the song is the age-old story of boy meets girl, boy meets girl’s friend, the two women realize they love each other and then run away together. It’s all very “Tale as old as time.”
The second single from ‘Shout At The Devil,’ “Too Young to Fall in Love” boasts one of the Crue’s hookiest chorus and campiest music videos ever. The whole plot is a mystery beyond words, so just go and watch it...after you finish this list, of course. A tip of the hat to Tommy Lee for providing a rhythm track that is minimalist but meaty AF.
Hmmm...the early days often found the Crue too (insert adjective here) for love, it seems. Regardless of the descriptor, it certainly made for fun songwriting as evident with “Too Fast For Love,” another raw tune from Motley Crue’s debut that really showed the band’s punk influences. Plus, the way Vince Neil sings the “Oh no, oh no!” intro remains some of the most iconic notes he’s ever sung.
Simply stated: “Public Enemy #1” is a glammy, pop-punk delight! The track was co-written by Nikki Sixx and Lizzie Grey, who was Sixx’s former bandmate in London, the band Sixx co-founded before forming Motley Crue.
“Live Wire” is the first track on ‘Too Fast For Love,” and from the moment you hear Mick Mars’ chugging opening riff, you know Motley Crue is not a band to be messed with. It’s the type of song that can only bit written by someone who’s young and hungry. You just can’t get away with writing lyrics like, “Because I'm hot, young, running free/A little bit better than I used to be,” when you’re three albums into your career.
As Motley Crue looked back on ten wild years on their first greatest hits album ‘Decade of Decadence,’ they did so with a new track in “Primal Scream,” and it’s an absolute monster that packs as much attitude as anything they dropped in the previous decade. Of course, “Primal Scream” was one of the final singles released during Vince Neil’s first tenure fronting the band. It’s one of the finest examples of each member of the Crue operating on all cylinders.
It’s the title track to Motley Crue’s most commercially successful album, and it’s the band’s most successful single in their catalog peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. While the song explores the life of a drug dealer wasn’t necessarily a new theme for the band, “Dr. Feelgood” had a polish unlike any other Crue single until then. That’s a touch likely due to producer Bob Rock and the fact the band was sober during the making of the album.
“Shout At The Devil” wasn’t released as a single, but when you write a hook as catchy as, “Shout, shout, shout/Shout at the devil,” the people will undoubtedly find it and help make it an anthem. Fun fact: It’s the song Motley Crue has played the most live in their band’s history, according to Setlist.fm.
The fourth single from ‘Dr. Feelgood,’ “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” finds Motley Crue embracing pop elements in expert fashion without losing a touch of their metal edge. Plus, its title alone is one of the best kiss-offs in music. Who hasn’t gone through a breakup that ended with this type of vibe?
Motley Crue grew significantly from their debut to their second studio album ‘Shout At The Devil,’ and out the gate, they weren’t messing around as evident on the lead single “Looks That Kill.” It’s one of the Crue’s signature tunes for a reason.
“Kneel down you sinners to streetwise religion/Greed’s been crowned the new king.” That opening lyric is both super-’80s and, yet, somehow timeless, much like Motley Crue themselves. The dark lyrical content of “Wild Side” is a total juxtaposition of its music, which is one of the most upbeat tempos and melodies the band ever wrote. The whole song is as dizzying and brilliant as Tommy Lee’s spinning drum rig that’s featured in the song’s music video.
In the realm of power ballads, “Home Sweet Home” is among the most quintessential if not *the* most quintessential. Even when listening to it in your car, you’re almost tempted to lift up your lighter or phone and just sway. Tommy Lee’s piano intro is instantly recognizable, and his little drum fill at the end of the track is the perfect cherry atop one epic tune. Add Mick Mars’ guitar solo and the way Vince Neil wails “Tonight, tonight!” during the chorus, it’s no wonder this tune penned by Nikki Sixx and Lee is one of the Crue’s best.
Picking the best Motley Crue song is a tough challenge, because a number of songs in their catalog could be argued as their “best.” Why does “Kickstart My Heart” come out on top of our list? Because not only is it an incredible rock song, but it represents the essence of the Crue better than any other song in their catalog. When you’re a band whose debauchery is beyond legendary, picking the song that was inspired by Nikki Sixx being brought back to life following an overdose just makes sense. And, once again, it’s an incredible rock song that decades later is still a mainstay on active rock and now classic rock radio. It’s a song that just refuses to die, sort of like Nikki Sixx.
Rolling Stones Best Songs Ranked
Rolling Stones: Their 50 Best Songs Ranked
“Stop Breaking Down” is one of two covers found on ‘Exile on Main St.’ (You’ll see the other one later in this list.) The Stones’ take on this Robert Johnson classic serves as a great reminder of the band’s blues roots. Mick Jagger is, once again, dynamite on harmonica and Mick Taylor’s slide work is “chef’s kiss,” as the kids say.
This cover of the classic Temptations hit is loose, fun and infectious. It’s no wonder it was a top 20 hit for the Stones on the Billboard Hot 100.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote this tender track along with their manager Andrew Loog Oldham. While the song was originally recorded by Marianne Faithfull and released in June 1964, the Stones would record and release their own version in December 1965, which would become the band’s fifth top 10 single in the United States. “As Tears Go By” has been covered by a variety of other artists, including Nancy Sinatra and Avenged Sevenfold.
Echoing the themes of “the problem that has no name” in Betty Friedan’s classic book ‘The Feminine Mystique,’ “Mother’s Little Helper” is the cautionary tale of the daily struggle of medicated housewives of the 1960s who weren’t satisfied with their lives. It’s a song that 50+ years later that still resonates, because sometimes, what a drag it is being a mom and a wife.
From the moment Charlie Watts’ drum fill kicks off “You Got Me Rocking,” it’s difficult to not simply rock the f--- out. It’s nothing fancy, but there has never been anything wrong with meat-and-potatoes rock and roll.
There is an overall timelessness about the Rolling Stones, but there are certainly a number of songs from their early releases that simply just feel like the ‘60s. “I’m Free” is definitely one of them. Perhaps you can attribute that to the tambourine. You just don’t hear a lot of tambourine anymore!
Imagine writing an absolute classic like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and then being tasked with following it up. While the Stones were enjoying their success, the record company was looking at their collective watch and wondering what was next. What they got was “Get Off of My Cloud,” a tune that is perhaps the most polite kiss-off in rock history.
There is a lot going on with “Anybody Seen My Baby?” related to its creation. It’s the only track from the Stones to feature sampling; in this case it was hip-hop artist Biz Markie’s “A One Two.” The song also famously features song credits for k.d. lang and Ben Mink for the chorus, because it resembled Lang’s 1992 track “Constant Craving.” Oh, and an early 20-something Angelina Jolie is the star subject in the song’s music video. You also can’t mention “Anybody Seen My Baby?” without tipping a cap to Jamie Muhoberac, whose bassline truly is the backbone of this haunting tune.
“Love Is Strong” marked a couple of firsts for the Stones: It was the first single from ‘Voodoo Lounge,’ and, more importantly, it was the band’s first single without Bill Wyman, the first lineup change in the band since Ronnie Wood joined in 1975. Despite the changes, the Stones stuck to what they did best on the track: sexy, hooky, blues-based rock, which led to them taking home the very first Best Rock Album Grammy Award in 1995.
For pretty much any other band, “All Down the Line” would be a single, but it was instead released as a b-side to “Happy.” This could be due to the Stones’ messy legal battle with ABKCO’s Allen Klein who alleged the band wrote “All Down the Line” and four other ‘Exile’ tunes while still under contract with ABKCO. Legal issues aside, it’s an instant party of a track thanks to the trumpet and trombone work of Jim Price.
“Shattered” was a cheeky tribute to New York City that still rings true today. (“Pride and joy and greed and sex/That’s what makes that town the best.”) “Shattered” served as both the final single from ‘Some Girls’ and the final single of the ‘70s from the Rolling Stones. If the band thought the ‘60s were a wild ride, the ‘70s was a whole new level. Also, kudos for the heavy use of the word “Shadoobie.” Frankly, it’s just fun.
'GRRR!’ was the Rolling Stones compilation set released in honor of the band’s 50th anniversary. The set featured two new tracks, with the lead single being “Doom and Gloom.” The track is two things: 1. A total banger of a rock tune and 2. A reminder that even five decades later, the Stones were more than capable of writing songs that any band would dream of writing.
Like the aforementioned “I’m Free,” “She’s a Rainbow” definitely feels like it’s from the ‘60s. Even if you just read the lyrics, you can feel the Summer of Love-ness of it all. (“She comes in colors everywhere/She combs her hair/She’s like a rainbow.”) “She’s a Rainbow” is so buoyant it could warm the cold heart of even the biggest badass. The strings on the song were also arranged by some session guy named John Paul Jones. He went on to have an okay career.
The second cover from ‘Exile,’ “Shake Your Hips” was originally recorded and released by Slim Harpo in 1966. It yet again serves as another example of the band’s love and respect for the blues. The minimalist production provides an interesting variance only three tracks into 'Exile,’ perhaps the Stones’ greatest masterpiece.
The Rolling Stones are far from being known as a “political” band, but “Sweet Black Angel” is one of the few times the band made a political statement in their songs. The ‘Exile” track served as a tribute to renowned civil rights activist Angela Davis who, at the time the song was written, was incarcerated on erroneous kidnapping and murder charges of which she’d later be found not guilty.
Whenever someone writes the definitive history of “diss tracks,” there most certainly should be a section dedicated to “Star Star.” A cut at groupies (and perhaps also former Jagger beau Carly Simon), the track was originally called “Starf---er,” but Ahmet Ertegun, whose Atlantic Records distributed the Stones’ records back then, put a stop to that. Gee...don’t know why?
A rockabilly jam that featured Jagger spitting lyrics at breakneck speed, “Rip This Joint” is a wild tale about drugs and traveling across the southern United States as a foreigner. The songs features shoutouts to various cities from Tampa to Santa Fe as well as name dropping “The Butter Queen,” the nickname for famous groupie Barbara Cope. If you don’t know why Cope was called “The Butter Queen,” Google it yourself, but you might want to use the “Incognito” tab and probably don’t do it while you’re in the office.
“Torn and Frayed” paints the picture of a journeyman guitarist traveling from town to town but it easily could be a metaphor for how any band could feel during a long, grueling tour. The tune leans into the Stones’ country influences, which is appropriate considering Gram Parsons famously visited the Villa Nellcôte mansion while the band recorded ‘Exile’ in its basement.
The Rolling Stones will forever be that “bad boy” alternative to The Beatles, but even bad boys can be really sweet and romantic as evident from “Loving Cup.” Many of us would openly swoon if someone said they’d “love to spill the beans with you till dawn.” Also, this track wouldn’t be the same without Nicky Hopkins on piano, who is both the heart and backbone of the song.
The Stones have more than a little love affair with country music (and various references to drugs.) “Sweet Virginia” sees both of those interests collide along with Mick Jagger’s harmonica and the late Bobby Keys’ brilliant saxophone. Get used to seeing more of these elements later in the list.
A tender ode to the working class, “Salt of the Earth” closes out ‘Beggars Banquet’ on a poignant note. The song took on increased poignancy when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards performed it at “The Concert For New York City,” the all-star benefit show at Madison Square Garden in honor of NYC’s police and fire fighters following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
That undeniable bass line! By the way, that was Keith Richards, not Bill Wyman, playing bass on this song. The track notably is the first song the Stones recorded with new guitarist Mick Taylor, who replaced a fired Brian Jones, and the first song to feature Bobby Keys on saxophone. The chemistry between the guitars of Richards and Taylor was just incredible, bordering on telepathic.
Some of the most devastating love songs are about love that just wasn’t meant to be even though two people really put in the effort. Many people often experience this at some point in life, and once that experience is in the rearview, a song like “Angie” just hits differently. Crossroads are hard to deal with, but this beautiful ballad, written primarily by Keith Richards, offers a lot of comfort. After all, “They can’t say we never tried.”
If you make a playlist of awesome rock songs with killer brass sections and “Bitch” isn’t on there, that playlist is simply incomplete. Credit is due to Bobby Keys and Jim Price, both of whom should show up mutiple times on any such list. If you take away their saxophone and trumpet tracks from “Bitch,” the song just isn’t the same. The Rolling Stones are one of the greatest bands of all time for many reasons, but one of those was how they surrounded themselves with the right cast of musicians on the studio. Keef, once again, shines and is the reason why the song’s original tempo increased.
“Did you ever wake up to find/A day that broke up your mind?/Destroyed your notion of circular time?” If you presented those lyrics to someone who isn’t familiar with the Rolling Stones, they might think it was the opening verse of a song written during lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. “Sway” is primarily the work of Mick Jagger and Mick Taylor, even though the song is credited to Jagger/Richards. Taylor’s guitar work is the perfect partner to Jagger’s, at times, dramatic vocals, and “Sway” marks the first time Jagger lent his own guitar work to a track.
The first of 18 tracks on ‘Exile,’ “Rock Off” is an incredibly dark and filthy song to set the tone for a truly epic double album. To put it bluntly: The song is about a drug addict (like with a heroin problem) who’s having problems performing sexually because of said drug problems. Despite the grizzly subject matter, the song’s organized chaos – from the overlapping vocals in the chorus to the distorted bridge – adds up to a type of magic that, really, only the Rolling Stones could create.
Want a surefire way to help a song go to number one? Make it the flip side of a single that radio is too afraid to play! “Ruby Tuesday” was released as a double A-side with “Let’s Spend the Night Together” as the lead single. Since “Ruby Tuesday” was the less-randy of the two tracks, many stations were more comfortable playing the sweet ballad, whose lyrics were penned by Keith Richards. The song would go on to be the Stones’ fourth number one single on the Billboard Hot 100.
Hindsight is a funny thing. A song like “Let’s Spend the Night Together” is practically puritanical by the standards of the 2020s. Alas, it was nothing short of scandalous when it was first released in 1967 and would infamously be changed to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together” when the Stones performed it on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ (Seeing Mick Jagger dramatically roll his eyes when singing the altered lyric is still funny, though.) However, good for Mick for making the evening a two-way street, if you know what I mean. (“I’ll satisfy your every need (your every need)/And now I know you will satisfy me.”)
The Stones have many songs about love lost, but none of them are as dark as the appropriately titled "Paint It Black." Besides the general bleak nature of the song, Brian Jones' sitar playing is clearly one of the track's standout aspects. The track would go on to be the Stones' third song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Country and drugs return in full force on “Dead Flowers,” a brooding, bitter tune that is also remarkably catchy. Those elements shouldn’t work this well, but they just do on “Dead Flowers.” It goes without saying, but “And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave” still remains one of the most subtly brutal burns in the Stones catalog.
“Shine a Light” is as heartbreaking as it is grand. The song serves as a tribute to late guitarist Brian Jones, and while released on ‘Exile’ in 1972, Mick Jagger had started writing the song back in 1968 when Jones was still in the band, but his drug use was becoming an increasing problem. From top to bottom, the lyrics are gripping and touching and resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one at a young age, especially from substance issues.
The idea that life on the road is glamorous is painfully put in place on “Moonlight Mile,” the moving closing track to ‘Sticky Fingers.’ (The Rolling Stones sure had a knack for ending an album on an emotional note, didn’t they?) Sure, performing before fans is amazing, but that time between shows traveling town to town is often lonely and cold. (“The sound of strangers sending nothing to my mind/Just another mad, mad day on the road.”) Guitarist Mick Taylor, pianist Jim Price and Paul Buckmaster’s string arrangement put the song’s emotional weight on their back and really carried this track home.
If there’s one lesson to be learned from “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” it’s to always keep the tape rolling because you never know what you could capture. The song’s iconic instrumental jam at the end wasn’t even planned; the Stones and their incredible cast of session musicians didn’t even realize that they were being recorded until after the fact. Saxophonist Bobby Keys had many great moments on Rolling Stones tracks, but his work on “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” could easily be his finest moment of them all.
Not all love songs are about romantic love, and “Waiting On A Friend” might be the greatest example of that. The second single off 1981’s ‘Tattoo You,’ the lyrics for “Waiting On A Friend” were penned by Mick Jagger about the friendships within the Stones: “Don’t need a whore, don’t need no booze. Don’t need a virgin priest, but I need someone I can cry to. I need someone to protect.” If you’re lucky, you’ve got a friend that fits these lyrics, and you know full well that that friendship is one of the greatest loves of your life.
Some could argue that the Rolling Stones – one of the greatest rock bands of all time – are the keepers of one of the best disco songs of all time, too. Unlike Mick Jagger walking in Central Park and singing after dark, that thought isn't crazy. It might be the hookiest hook Mick and Keith ever wrote, truth be told.
The most successful song from the Stones where Keith Richards sang lead vocals, “Happy” happened, according to Keef, “because I was for one time early for a [recording] session.” It’s a good thing Richards was early that one time: “Happy” has become a significant part of the Stones’ setlist and has been played live by the band over 500 times, per Setlist.fm. On top of his vocals and guitar work, Richards pulled triple duty by playing bass, too.
Despite how Dick and Berry from ‘High Fidelity’ feel about this song’s association with ‘The Big Chill,’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” has remained one of the Rolling Stones’ biggest showstoppers for 50 years and for good reason. The ethereal sounds of the London Bach Choir provided a unique juxtaposition to the Rolling Stones closing out not only this album but the ‘60s themselves, a decade that brought both profound change and pain. The ‘70s were on the horizon, and while so much was uncertain, one thing that wasn’t was how somehow, we’d all figure out how to get what we need.
Let’s just cut to the chase: “Beast of Burden” is sexy as hell. It’s the perfect combination of lust, romance and general coolness, which is one of many ways to simply describe the Rolling Stones as a band. It’s a casual groove but it’s in no way sloppy. It truly is rough enough, tough enough, rich enough and in love enough.
If the rock genre had some sort of keynote address, “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)” would likely be it, or at least be a firm contender. It has attitude for days, great guitars and a killer rhythm track. What more could you really want? Someone to stick a pen in their heart and spill it all over a stage?! People don’t choose rock and roll; it chooses them. This track understands that. And they like it. (Yes, they do!)
The Rolling Stones have plenty of ballads in their quiver, but “Wild Horses” is the band’s best that hits your heart’s bullseye every single time. How could it not? “No sweeping exits or offstage lines/Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind.” You’d have to be a damn cyborg not to feel that!
The lead/most commercially successful single from ‘Exile,’ “Tumbling Dice” is easily the coolest song that relies on gambling and love as metaphors. Mick Taylor is on bass here, with Mick Jagger picking up rhythm duties. (Keef, of course, is on lead.) Charlie Watts’s drumming is minimalist perfection. The track is put over the top thanks to the sublime backing vocals of Clydie King, Venetta Fields and Sherlie Matthews.
Easily one of the best straight-forward blues tracks written by Jagger and Richards, “Midnight Rambler” opens up side two of 'Let It Bleed’ and serves as another example of Jagger being incredibly underrated on the harmonica. While the studio version is outstanding, the live version on ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!” is pure blues jam heaven.
Let’s get this out of the way: There’s no way in hell lyrics like this would fly today. It’s something Mick Jagger recognized in an interview with ‘Rolling Stone’ published in 1995 where he said, “God knows what I'm on about on that song. It's such a mishmash. All the nasty subjects in one go... I never would write that song now.” Lyrical content aside, the track would become the Stones’ sixth number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks in large part to its incredible groove. No wonder it’s the song the band has played the second-most times in concert, which leads perfectly into...
The song the Rolling Stones have played the most live is “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” (Per Setlist.fm, they’ve played this absolute gem more than 1,100 times.) The track marked a welcome return to form following the very of-the-era ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request.’ Not to say a band isn’t allowed to experiment with their sound, but blues-based Rolling Stones will always be superior to anything else they do. And if you’re looking for any further evidence, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” has been covered by a bunch of other artists from Tina Turner to Aretha Franklin to Peter Frampton.
God...bless...cowbell and producer Jimmy Miller’s playing of the instrument that kicks off this classic tune. While we’re at it, bless the women that maybe inspired this song, too. (Particularly the one that blew Mick Jagger’s nose and then his mind. That’s both thoughtful and...let’s just say thorough.) While the song was born from more country influences as evident from “Country Honk” featured on ‘Let It Bleed,’ “Honky Tonk Women” is just leaps and bounds better and a testament of what can happen when you simply play around with a song idea.
Inspired by various anti-war demonstrations that occurred around the world in 1968, “Street Fighting Man” is the Rolling Stones at their most visceral. Despite being about protests in the ‘60s, its message and attitude still apply to countless movements that have played out in streets the world over in the decades since its release. There is a timelessness to many Rolling Stones songs, but “Street Fighting Man” might be the most universal track in their entire catalog. Props to Brian Jones for his sitar and tamboura work, which truly adds a unique layer and texture to an already potent track.
One second. That’s all you need to pick out “Start Me Up”; by 0:01, you know exactly what you’re listening to. It’s one of the band’s most radio-friendly tunes in their entire catalog, perhaps the most radio-friendly. This fact is incredibly ironic considering they inexplicably snuck the lyric “You make a dead man cum” past censors. Or at least that lyric wasn’t considered the scandal that “Let’s Spend The Night Together” was 14 years prior. Regardless, what an iconic riff from Keith Richards!
“Sympathy for the Devil” and its storytelling of tragic moments in history from the perspective of the devil never really gets enough credit for how clever it is. The Stones were criticized for their behavior and the content of their lyrics from pretty much the jump, but instead of complaining about their critics, they decided to hold a mirror at them instead. Sure, the song is playful in that very British wink-and-a-nod sort of way about Satan, but the way it turns the tables on a hypnotic wave of “woo woos” is nothing short of brilliant.
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is about as legendary as the story of how Keith Richards wrote the song’s classic riff while still half-asleep. The preferred music of younger generations may have changed over time, but the frustrations are still pretty much the same. (Older generations are out of touch, everyone keeps telling me what to do, I can’t get laid, etc.) If you could pick just one thing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” did really well – which is admittedly an incredibly daunting task - it was establish an angst anthem blueprint for future younger artists to follow. Sure, there has been some evolution over the decades, but you can almost always find the root of those works in “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
Many things add up to “Gimme Shelter” being the greatest Rolling Stones song ever. For starters, it’s one of the greatest opening tracks ever and kicks off ‘Let It Bleed’ in dramatic fashion. It also features the most iconic rock vocal solo ever thanks to Merry Clayton’s fervent delivery. (Her voice breaking when she belts out the final line of “Rape, Murder” will forever send chills up and down spines.) Perhaps most importantly is that “Gimme Shelter” is somehow over 50 years later more relevant and poignant now than it was when first released. In an age when multiple mass shootings happen nearly every single week in the United States, a line like “It’s just a shot away” cuts remarkably deep, and it’s difficult not to think of it with every piece of breaking news or memorial hashtag. “Gimme Shelter” is a desperate plea for peace in the face of seemingly non-stop violence. Maybe one day, we’ll find the love the song speaks of as it comes to a close.