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Can't You Hear Me Knocking? by The Rolling Stones

Album: Sticky FingersReleased: 1971
  • This is an unusually long Stones track, runing 7:14. Mick Jagger's work is done by 2:45, however, as the groove plays out for the next four-and-a-half minutes. The Stones were experimenting with different styles around this time, and "Can't You Hear Me Knocking?" has a distinct Santana influence.
  • This featured Bobby Keys on sax, Rocky Dijon on percussion, and Billy Preston on organ. Keys, along with trumpet player Jim Price, joined The Stones on their 1970 European tour after performing on Sticky Fingers. His lengthy sax solo on this track wasn't planned out, but once he got going, he kept blowing while the tape ran and Keith Richards loved it.
  • Probably best not to read too much into the lyrics of this one, since even Mick Jagger isn't exactly sure what he wrote. As Robert Greenfield recounts in his book Ain't It Time We Said Goodbye, shortly before the album was released, someone realized that the lyrics for this song and a few others had not been filed, making them impossible to copyright. Members of the Stones camp were dispatched to write down the words by listening to the acetate pressings, and on this song, the best they could come up with for one of the lines near the end was "I've got flatted feet, now." Jagger insisted he didn't write that line, but couldn't remember what the real line was, so it stuck.
  • Andy Warhol designed the Sticky Fingers album cover. Before he started working on it, Mick Jagger send Warhol a note warning that a complicated design could cause nasty production delays, but nonetheless giving him total creative control. The artist responded with a cover that contained an actual working zipper, which of course was a production nightmare.

    The cover, however, was one of the most memorable ever made. It showed a man wearing very tight jeans behind that working zipper - many folks assumed this was Mick Jagger, but it was actually Joe Dallesandro, a actor and Warhol cohort. Dallesandro appeared on the cover of the April 15, 1971 issue of Rolling Stone magazine; the album was released on April 23.
  • Stones producer Jimmy Miller played percussion on this track. In the '60's, Miller mixed records for The Spencer Davis Group and produced Steve Winwood's next group, Traffic.
  • The Stones played a truncated version of this song a few times before it was released on the Sticky Fingers album. These performances took place on their 11-date UK farewell tour before they left England to avoid taxes. After these shows, they didn't play it live again until 2002, at which point they could bring alone plenty of musicians to support it. They had percussionists on earlier tours, but didn't feel comfortable performing this song since anytime they rehearsed it, they either made stale attempts to duplicate the album version or did sloppy improvisations.
  • This was used in the movies Casino (1995), Blow (2001), Without a Paddle (2004) and The Fighter (2010).
  • Mick Taylor was lead guitarist for The Stones at the time. This was one of his earliest songs with the band - he replaced Brian Jones, who died in 1969.

    In 1979, Taylor said: "Can't You Hear Me Knocking is one of my favorites. (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." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France for above 2)
  • This was featured on the video game Guitar Hero II. (thanks, Cliff - Burkesville, KY)
  • With mentions of "cocaine eyes" and "speed-freak jive," this song contains some pretty obvious drug references, which makes sense considering the company the band was keeping at the time - pretty much everyone in their circle was doing drugs.
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Comments: 49

Taken from Original Rolling Stone Review [June 10, 1971]: "Years ago, when I first heard that the Stones had recorded something 11 minutes long, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, thinking it was sure to be the definitive rave-up and hoping it would finally put the Yardbirds and Them in their place. When I finally heard "Going Home" I realized the Stones couldn't conceive of a long cut as anything but a vehicle for Jagger to project through. Given the time to stretch out, they went for the mellow down easy side with the emphasis on the voice rather than the instruments.

Now they have done something with a long instrumental break in it and it ain't bad. On the other hand, I can't see what it really has to do with the Rolling Stones. The song is good but once into the solos there is a touch of R&B, a touch of Santana, but nothing to really identify with. So maybe they had the right idea the first time. For old times sake I do hope that the really boring guitar solo is by Mick Taylor and that those great surging chords in the background are by Keith Richards, the original Sixties rock and roll guitarist, and mast of Chuck Berry music, and the soul of the Rolling Stones."
Deethewriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation
That's wrong. Read the Richards autobiography...he played the main riff.Rick - Landrum, Sc
Actually Keith is not even featured on guitar on the studio album version of the song. Sorry, but Keith was not around when this track was cut...Nat - Nyc, Ny
My top 5 Stones song. Another Classic!Jim - Long Beach, Ca
I'm not sure I believe the claim that that was end of the song, and then someone--Taylor or Richards (sounds like Richards to me) spontaneously kept playing. Not that they can't jam, but without that second part the end of the song would have ended so abrubtly (right after he sings "all around your town"). Really, it was supposed to end like that? I can't believe that's how they planned it. Maybe it had a slightly different ending, and they cut the song and spliced in the jam. Hmmmm. Mike, CaliforniaMike - Anaehim, Ca
Starting in 1968 with Beggars Banquet and ending in 1972 with Exile on Main Street. In my opinion the golden era of the Rolling Stones. Let in Bleed and Sticky Fingers were amazing albums as well, and let us not forget the 1970 live gem Get Your Ya Ya's Out! :)Mick - Philadelphia, Pa
Great song I think stickyfinger is an awsome album. With all the recent talk about Exile on Main street this in my opinion is a better album.Brian - Boston, Ma
Mick Taylor kept the song going after a certain point, but the first/main riff in the second part (after "all around your town") - in addition to sounding like Keith - comes from the same speaker channel (left, I believe) as Keith's other guitar parts. Each guitar drops out at different points, but their channels don't change. Regardless, there are many great moments here from Keith and Mick T.Shannon - Charlottesville, Va
This jam track (featuring & heavily influenced by Mick Taylor) shows the Stones at their best. Nothing they've done before or since comes even close. Of course, the "Sticky Fingers" album was in a class by itself, as well.Richie - Omaha, Ne
The Stones, the drugged out and dark 70's version. It was a great time for the Stones with Mick Taylor on guitar, in my opinion their best era ever 1969-1974....Jim - Long Beach, Ca
Hey Joey from Boston, I'm also from Boston (good place to be from) and I definitely think you're right, this could be one of their best. You gotta hear "Midnight Rambler" though and then tell me which one you think is better...I LOVE this one and it's a LOT different than Midnighter Rambler's "breakdown". But the breakdown with Mick Jagger on the harmonica...it's just the FUNKIEST riff ever. It actually reminds me of a "breakdown" the J. Geils Band would do! LOVE J. Geils!Jack - Brookline, Ma
Love the Jam on the end. Yet another triumph for the Stones.Daevid - Glendale, Ca
My favourite Stones song!!Allox - Qld, Australia
Whilst the Stones didn't perform this song live until 2002 it was part of Mick Jagger's set when he toured Australia solo in 1988.Ken - Melbourne, Australia
I absolutely love this song. One time they did a countdown on Sirius Rolling Stones Radio when they still had that, and this was their number one song. At the time I was so mad because I had never heard it before. But it's probably one of my favorite songs now.Alexandria - Preston, Ct
hell yeah!!! CASINO!!! I was never a Stones fan, but whenever I hear this song, I instantly see the scene where Nicky's crew is being introduced. Bernie Blue, Sal Fusco, Jack Hardy. True pimps!!!Jeff - Austin, Tx
Song is played in its entirety in Casino (not to be confused with Monkey Man and Goodfellas) - yet another brilliant Scorcese assimilation of the Stones filthy sound with mob life.Toe - C Town, Oh
I've heard the biggest reason Taylor left the Stones was because he didn't think he was getting the credit he deserved. He claims he co-wrote a few songs (can't remember which ones specifically) on the "It's Only Rock N' Roll" album, but every song was just credited to Jagger and Richards. Many people thought he'd have a successful solo career like Eric Clapton because he was considered one of the best guitarists in the world at the time, but it never panned out.Scott - Boston, Ma
This song is very underrated, but i gotta say its one of my favorites.Mitchell - Commerce, Mi
Wow this song rocks! Most underrated stones song. ROCK ONKevin - Springfield, Pa
I like to think that Charlie's jazzy drumming in the "jam" adds quite a bit to this classic. Love this song.David - Enniskillen, Canada
gimme shelter was in goodfellas, cant remember if this tune is...Mr.goodtimes - Edmonton, Canada
Think the guys gave their best, what resulted with euphoric, brilliant moode-making song. The best song, enjoy in every second of it.Angela - Duga Resa, Croatia
This is a pretty good song, even though it is lengthy. You can play a slightly shorter version this song in the video game "Guitar Hero II".Jab - Avon, Oh
Wasn't this used in Goodfellas?Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
This is an excellent song. (the first riff blows my mind, and the drums at 16/wow i love this song....Melquiades - Cali, South America
I rate Keith's riff at the start of this song so deep down and dirty and him at his best. Mick was an intuitive genius to continue and the 7 minutes or so are all totally justifiable. Brilliant. Definitely a track to play when driving to a wild partyJames Cuthbert - London, England
What happened to Mick Taylor. Seems all the tunes he contributed too are good. I think I heard he walked out?
John, London
John - London
The single greatest song by the single greatest rock band ever. Say what you want about Mick Taylor (his playing is fantastic on this and many other songs, especially live) but, like a ton of other Stones songs, this would be nothing without Keith Richards.Keith - Front Royal, Va
One of the best Stones' songs in my opinion. Totally reminds me of Blow.Kira - Edmonton, Canada
This is kinda like Santana...Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
The "real story" is the song as intended to be about 3 minutes long...everyone, including "Keef", Billy Preston, etc. stopped playing and put down their instruments ,EXCEPT for Mick Taylor, who kept going, Mick J., Keef, and gang quickly grabbed their instruments and joined in, turning into the 7 minute "Santana" like jam. By far one of the great guitar riff intros of all timeCraig - Irvine, Ca
Wow what a great song. I just love how long it runs.Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
It was actually Keith who kept the song going - it's his "sliding" rhythm riff that starts right after the brief percussion break (he played it perfectly on the Licks tour). Mick Taylor comes in gradually with volume pedal-controlled licks before breaking into the Santana-esque solo.Shannon - Charlottesville, Va
First half of the song is vintage Keith, second half is vintage Taylor. All in all, vintage Stones.Brick Bradford - L.a., Ca
This is probably the Rolling Stone's most underrated song. This might be the greatest riff they ever came up withJoey - Boston, Ma
Thanks Dave, I knew I had heard that jam before. wasn't sure if it was Phish the Dead or the Allmans. Now off to listen to some Phish. Glad I finally found the Stones.Keith - Nashua, Nh
The passage that starts with "Hear me ringing" and "Hear me knocking", about 40 seconds all told, is one of the best ever in rock 'n' roll. Keith's guitar sounds like a swaggering woman.John - Brighton, Mi
As long as the song is, according to Mick Taylor, the full version was 25 minutes long, and he was livid that they did not release the full version on the Album. In his mind, that showed that he was out of step with the rest of the bandTom - Newark, De
I like both the main part and wonderful jazz solo, changed my image on jazz a lot. Great.Jo-c - Lima, Peru
The Can't You Hear Me Knocking jam has been used a number of times by Phish at the end of Weekapaug - check out Slip, Stitch, and Pass...Dave - Boulder, Co
The extended jam at the end sounds quite a bit like Eddie Harris' jazz classic "Listen Here"Jon - Salinas, Ca
as written, features in the movie 'Blow', and pretty much makes the movie - its the lead in songRhett - Melbourne, Australia
Keith's best guitar track ever. And thanks, Naomi.Matt - Durham, Nh
The whole song was played in the movie "Casino" during the scenes that Joe Pesci's character is building up his gang.Ace - Las Vegas, Nv
appears in the movie "Blow" (2001)Victor - Vienna, Va
the rhtyhm guitar part played in the beginning is done in DGDGBD tuning.Naomi - Pg, Canada
the extanded jam at the end happened by accident in the studio when mick taylor kept going when the song was suppose to end. Soon the others joined in and it was left on as part of the song.Danny - Grass Valley, Ca
Was the most requested song by hardcore Stonesfans to be performed live. It finally made it onto the setlist in 2002 for the 40 Lickstour. Taylor's solo is often likened to Carlos Santana.Chelsea - Nyc, Or