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Let It Bleed

by

The Rolling Stones



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Keith Richards' fingers began to bleed as he played acoustic guitar for hours while Mick Jagger worked with an engineer on the drum track. The title came from Keith's desire to record his track. At least that's the story the band tells. Here's an alternate meaning: The phrase "Let It Bleed" is intravenous drug user slang for successfully finding a vein. The syringe plunger is pulled back and if blood appears, is called letting it bleed. (thanks, Bill - Hamilton, United States)
This was the first Stones song to also be the album title.
Ian Stewart, often considered "The 6th Stone," played the piano. This was his only appearance on Let It Bleed.
There are many references to sex and drugs in the lyrics to this track - an example of the Stones writing about what they knew.
This was recorded around the same time as The Beatles Let It Be, but the similar titles were just a coincidence.
The Stones recorded this after the death of Brian Jones, and Mick Taylor had yet to join the band. As a result, Keith Richards played both acoustic and slide electric guitar, and Bill Wyman played bass and autoharp. Autoharp is a string instrument with a series of chord bars attached to dampers which, when pressed, mute all but the desired chord. An autoharp is not really a harp - it's a zither. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
The English TV cook and author Delia Smith baked the cake on the album sleeve before she became famous. She got the gig through being a friend of the photographer, Don McAllester. In 1971, two years after the release of Let It Bleed, Delia Smith's first cookery book, How To Cheat at Cooking, was launched and by the end of the decade she'd become the UK's best known TV cook.
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Comments (22):

I read in some book about the Stones that the sentence ''and there will always be a space in my parking lot'' was about Marianne Faithful, Jagger's girlfriend, who used the euphemism ''parking lot'' to talk about her private parts.
- Art Fraser, Leeds, United Kingdom
Correction on the Hyde Park press conference: the actual date was June 13, 1969.
- Mike, Levittown, NY
Actually, Brian Jones quit the Rolling Stones in June. Mick Taylor was already on board and played on, 'Honky Tonk Women', their latest single at the time. On June 29, there was a press conference in Hyde Park in London where the group introduced Taylor and also to promote a free concert to be held in the park the following Saturday, July 5. However, when Jones drowned a few days later, the concert instead became a memorial. Even still, while 'Let It Bleed' was still in the works, songs from the album were showcased at the concert such as, 'Midnight Rambler'. The album was finally released at the end of their U.S. tour in December.
- Mike, Levittown, NY
"The Stones "Let it Loose", like all of Exile on Main St (in fact, like 90% of their work) destroys anything the Beatles could ever have hoped for."

Are you serious? I like the 'Stones, they have some good songs, but seriously, The Beatles did more for music in 6-7 years than the Stones were able to do in almost 50. I know you guys love your Stones but we have to face facts.
- Zero, Nowhere, NJ
Maybe Brandon was trying to compare the song Shine a Light to the song Let It Be. Anyway, this (let it bleed) is one of my favorite songs, and has the best "yeahhhhhhh" from Mick Jagger, right before he sings, for the second time, we all need someone we can bleed on. In fact, vocally, this has a lot of Yeahs, and all rights, and whoooos. That's why I love MJ as a singer--so much more raw and primal than any Beatles singing--although I love the Beatles too. Luckily, we live in a world where you can love both the Beatles and the Stones, but to me the best of the Stones is better than the best of the Beatles. But that just means they get to me more, it doesn't mean they're "better."
- Mike, Anaehim, CA
A good song from a very good Rolling Stones' album. Johnny Winter did a good cover of this on his "Still Alive And Well" album. Which also contains a good cover of "Silver Train" from their "Goats Head Soup" album.
- wayne, Salem, VA
Let It Bleed was recorded in March 1969
- Barry, New York, NC
This is a very underrated Stones' song. This is one of my favorite drinking songs...it just makes me wanna get sloppy when I hear it.
- George, little rock, AR
Eh, the sequencing did not match what was printed on the jacket of the record - for any type of media release ever.

The lyrics might say 'Get it on rider' but it sure does sound like he's saying 'bleed it all right' because on the live versions it doesn't sound like 'rider'.

But...whatever.

And what idiot at ABKCO insisted that 'gimme' was spelled 'gimmie'?
- Skip, Mandeville, LA
Not sure if this is true, but I heard the line in Bryan Adams' "Summer of 69" that says "played it 'til my fingers bled" was a reference to to Keith Richards rather than a personal experience. Seeing as this song was released in 1969 (not sure if it was the summer) it definately seems possible.
- Scott, Boston, MA
The Stones "Let it loose", like all of Exile on Main St (in fact, like 90% of their work) destroys anything the Beatles could ever have hoped for.

A very interesting thing about Let it Bleed, is the different mixes of the drums on the tracks. The title track's drums are very, very good for 1969. The Stones were not known for recording drums very well. But this track is different.
- Craig, melbourne, Australia
I was shocked to see some bozo in a TV ad playing this song on a porch. I was even more amazed to see him playing Keith's acoustic rhythm part properly - with a capo at the 3rd fret!
I have never heard that bit about "Let it Bleed" from any drug user I knew. While it's true that you leave a little air bubble at the top of the syringe when injecting intravenously, so the rush of blood tells you you've hit a vein, I never heard anything but "I've got a hit" or "...got it" or "I hit the vein" in response. Some users would inject the drug, then, without removing the needle from their vein, pull back on the plunger, causing the syringe to fill with blood. When repeated several times, this was known as "booting", or "jerking off" in sarcastic reference to the masturbatory act. Once again, I must say: there are enough genuine drug references in Stones songs. Don't invent one just because it sounds like it could be true! I don't really think of this as a drug song, anyway, despite the throwaway references to the "junkie nurse" in the basement and the possible cocaine in "when you need a little Coke and sympathy"-- which could be about Coca-Cola. The brilliance of the Stones' lyrics is that you're rarely sure... To me, it's more of a song about sexual and emotional need, and the promise that "I'll always be there for you". Certainly the line "you can come all over me" is not a drug reference...[smirk] And then there's the possible line "get it on, rider", which might actually be "bleed all right"-- or both at different times in the song? At any rate, "rider" is Blues slang for a sexual partner, usually a woman, as in the Skip James classic "Special Rider Blues" which I used to cover in my old NYC band The HellHounds. But, as stated, the brilliance is in the obscurity. Jagger once said he read an interview with Fats Domino once who said "You should never sing out the lyrics too clearly", which Mick said he took to heart. There is also a legend that Mick had an accident while playing sports where he accidentally bit off the end of his tongue, which caused him to be unable to enunciate as clearly and to sound "more like an old black man" (Mick's words, not mine). Thus obviously suited Mick just fine...Whatever the case, a cursory listen will show you that the Stones were the first Rock band to mix their vocals back down even with the instruments. Compare any Stones record to any Beatles record before "Rubber Soul" and you will hear the vocals way up front in the mix, dominating over the music to the point where the lyrics are clearly understandable - or they would be without the Beatles' thick 'Scouse (Liverpool) accent!
Put me down with those who hear no link between "Let It Loose" and ANY Beatles song, [sarcasm on]other than the presence of keyboards...[/sarcasm off].
- Andrew, New York, United States
To Sam of Shanghai, this was, as you supected, the way it was listed on the original album. Not the order as it appeared on the record.
- Arthur, Auckland, New Zealand
To Brandon from Seattle: I think "Let it Loose" is more related to the songs of the White Album. Enough to hear "Let it Loose" and compare it with Lennon s "Sexy Sadie". Try out and hear it...
- Homero, Monterrey , Mexico
Does anyone know why the tracklist on the back of the ABKCO remasters doesn't match up with the actual tracklist on the album? I don't know if it was this way on the original LP, but on the remastered CD it goes 1. let it bleed, 2. love in vain, 3. midnight rambler, 4. gimmie [sic] shelter, 5. you got the silver, 6. you can't always get what you want, 7. live with me, 8. monkey man, 9. country honk...
- Sam, Shanghai, China
Some people think that "Let It Bleed" was a response to "Let It Be" which of course is not true because the Stones' song was released months before McCartney's tune ever saw the light of day.
- Barry, New York, NY
Um actually, Stefanie, you might want to read the bottem comment from Brandon in Seattle, which is what I was responding to. He did comment on "Let is Loose" and how it sounded like "Let it Be", which it doesn't.
- Tess Finneran, Columbus, OH
we're not talking about "Let It Loose" we're talking about "Let it Bledd' and how "Let It Be' and 'Let It Bleed" are so similar as song titles. Come to think of it, that's an off coincidence.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Really good, about friendship in a relationship. Of course the Stones have to put some sex and drugs in there; but that's why we love them.
- XX, Whakatane, Hong Kong
Um in response to the above comment by Brandon from Seattle about the Rolling Stones song, Let it Loose sounding like Let it Be... what are you talking about? It does not sound like Let it Be. Let it Loose has gospel undertones, a piano and gospel singers at the end. It is a beautiful song and a lot better one than Let it Be. You may want to re-listen to Let it Loose before you start comparing it to other songs.
- Tess Finneran, Columbus, OH
wow his fingers began to bleed? thats some commitement!
- charlie, Thomaston, DC
Not at related to the Beatles "Let It Be", don't even let the album names: "Let It Be" and "Let It Bleed" confuse you, because they are not at all related. However, the Rolling Stones did do "Let It Loose", that sounded noticably like "Let It Be."
- Brandon, Seattle, WA
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