All Down The Line

Album: Exile on Main St. (1972)

Songfacts®:

  • The Stones first recorded an acoustic version of this song in 1969. They recorded it electric in 1971, and it was the first song completed for the Exile on Main St. sessions. Engineer Andy Johns told Goldmine in 2010: "It was the first one that was finished cause we'd be working for months and months. Mick got very enamored. 'It's finished! It's going to be the single!' I thought, 'This isn't really a single, you know.' I remember going out and talking to him and he was playing the piano. 'Mick, this isn't a single. It doesn't compare to "Jumpin' Jack Flash" or "Street Fighting Man." 'Come on, man.' He went, 'Really? Do you think so?' I thought, 'My God. He's actually listening to me.' (laughs). And then, I was having a struggle with the mix I thought was gonna be it. Ahmet Ertegun then barged in with a bunch of hookers and ruined the one mix. He stood right in front of the left speaker with two birds on each arm (laughs).

    I told Mick, 'I can't hear it here. If I could hear it on the radio that would be nice.' It was just a fantasy. 'Oh, we can do that.' 'Stew (piano player Ian Stewart), go to the nearest FM radio station with the tape and say we'd like to hear it over the radio. And we'll get a limo and Andy can listen to it in the car.' I went, 'Bloody hell…Well, it's the Stones. OK.'

    So sure enough, we're touring down Sunset Strip and Keith is in one seat, and I'm in the back where the speakers are with Mick, and Charlie is in there, too. Just because he was bored (laughs). And Mick's got the radio on and the DJ comes on the air, 'We're so lucky tonight. We're the first people to play the new Stones' record.' And it came on the radio and the speakers in this car were kind of shot. I still couldn't tell. And it finishes. Then Mick turns around. 'So?' 'I'm still not sure, man.' I'm still not used to these speakers'. 'Oh, we'll have him play it again then.'

    Poor Stew. 'Have them play it again' like they were some sort of radio service. It was surreal. Up and down Sunset Strip at 9:00 on a Saturday night. The Strip was jumpin' and I'm in the car with those guys listening to my mixes. It sounded OK. 'I think we're down with that.' So then we moved on."
  • When The Stones gave this to a Los Angeles radio station in 1971 while they were still working on it so they could hear what it sounded like on the radio, it spread rumors that it would be the first single off Exile on Main St., but that honor went to "Tumblin' Dice."
  • Producer Jimmy Miller added percussion. He had to play some of the instruments on the album because The Stones were rarely together during the sessions, which took place at a French villa Keith Richards rented.
  • Kathi McDonald sang backup. She was a backup singer for Leon Russell and went on to record with Nicky Hopkins and Quicksilver Messenger Service. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 13

  • Paul from Boston, MaKeeping in mind that Jumping Jack Flash may be the greatest rock-n-roll single of all time, All Down the Line may be the most emblematic of Stones rockers, especially from the Taylor period. I think it would have done well as a single. It has been a concert staple since its introduction. It showcases Taylor's formidable slide abilities, though not to the same extent as Silver Train a year later. It's a travesty that Taylor is nowhere to be found on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitar Players list.
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaOne of the best Stones songs from one of the best albums in Rock N Roll history...
  • Warren from Darwin, AustraliaI suspect Ronnie Wood or Mick Taylor, not Keith, would have their guitar tuned to open-G as it is a a common slide tuning.If open-G guitar tuning is used it is likely that the song key is G. Therefore use a C harmonica to play standard blues "cross harp"
  • Matt from Albuquerque, Nm"All Down the Line" is the B-side to the US single release of "Happy" from "Exile On Main St." , 1972.
  • Ted from Phoenix, AzIf I'm not mistaken, "All down the Line," was the b-side of the U.S. single release of "Tumbling Dice."

    Also, a true stereo version of this song has never been released.
  • Daevid from Glendale, Ca"The Greatest Rock-n-Roll Band In The World"....The Rolling Stones
  • Fred from Vancouver, BcIf I was to play the harmonica on the song All Down the Line with the guitar being an open G, what key should the harmonica be? Anyone know?
  • David from Orlando, FlKiller song, but never the same live since Mick Taylor left. Ronnie Wood is a great "weaver" with Keith, but he can't dominate a song with a slide guitar like Mick Taylor could.
  • Juan from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaOne of best rock and roll songs of all times.
  • Andrew from New York, United StatesGreat song...Keith uses his favorite tuning, OPen-G, to great effect...
  • Grant from Auckland, New ZealandThe greatest song ever done by the Stones, Have it in my will to be played at my funeral
  • John from Brighton, Misounds like a party on wheels.
  • Chelsea from Nyc, OrJagger wanted this to be the initial single off "Exile". It has been steadily performed on tour since 1972.
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