Moonlight Mile

Album: Sticky Fingers (1971)
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  • This was the result of an all-night recording session at Stargroves, The Stones' mobile recording studio. A moonlight mile is a night time cocaine session. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Keith Richards was not at the recording session because he a bit "out of it" by the end of the Sticky Fingers recording session. Richard likes the song, though.
  • With Richards gone, Mick Taylor did all the guitar work on the recording.
  • The working title was "The Japanese Thing."
  • Jim Price, who usually arranged horns and played trumpet, played the piano.
  • Paul Buckmaster, known for his work with Elton John, arranged the strings.
  • Mick Jagger, 1978: "That's a dream song. Those kinds of songs with kinds of dreamy sounds are fun to do, but not all the time - it's nice to come back to reality."
  • In an interview with The Wall Street Journal's Marc Myers, Jagger explained the creation of the song: "I also came up with an Oriental-Indian riff on my acoustic guitar. At some point during the tour I played it for Mick Taylor, because I thought he would like it. At that point, I really hadn't intended on recording the song. Sometimes you don't want to record what you're writing. You think, 'This isn't worth recording, this is just my doodling.'

    "When we finished our European tour in October 1970, we were at Stargroves... We were sitting around one night and I started working on what I had initially written. I felt great. I was in my house again and it was very relaxing. So the song became about that - looking forward to returning from a foreign place while looking out the window of a train and the images of the railway line going by in the moonlight." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2

Comments: 24

  • Brenda from GoldsboroAll I know is this song had me at “when the wind blows…. The sound of strangers sending nothing to my mind.” Talk about poetry! Love! AND!!! The piano in this piece is totally mesmerizing!!!! And the “road” the way he sings it - wow!!! Love! Just the “whole” of it!
  • Daniel R from New England I thought moonlight mile was about a friend’s death?
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationTaken from Original Rolling Stone Review [June 10, 1971]: "From "Brown Sugar" we had to wait all the way to here to get a masterpiece. The semi-oriental touch seems to heighten the song's intense expression of desire, which is the purest and most engaging emotion present on the record. The sense of personal commitment and emotional spontaneity immediately liberate Jagger's (double-tracked) singing: it's limitations become irrelevant and he rises to the occasion by turning in his best performance on the album — the only thing that compares with his singing of "Gimme Shelter."
    There is something soulful here, something deeply felt: "I've got silence on the radio, let the airwaves flow, let the airwaves flow." Paul Buckmaster, Elton John's arranger, does the best job with strings I can remember in a long, long time, while Charlie Watts only goes through the motions of loosening up his style, as he comes down hard on the nearly magical line, "Just about a moonlight mile."
    The cut contains that rave-up they never gave us on "Goin Home"; perhaps it is just a filling out of the intensely erotic climax that came towards the end of that song ("Sha-la-la," and all of that). When Jagger finally says "Here we go, now" as Mick Taylor's guitar (Richard is inexplicably absent) falls perfectly into place with a hypnotic chord pattern, it's as if he is taking our hand and is literally going to walk us down his dream road. As the strings push the intensity level constantly upwards and Charlie emphasizes the development with fabulous cymbal crashes, the energy becomes unmistakably erotic — erotic as opposed to merely sexual, erotic in a way that the entire rest of the album is not. The expression of need that dominates so much of the record is transformed from a hostile statement into a plea and a statement of warmth and receptiveness.
    This cut really does sway and when Jagger's voice re-enters, it is with none of the forced attempts at style and control present on the rest of the album, but with the kind of abandon that he seems uniquely capable of. And unique is the best word to describe the cut as a whole: after nine songs that hover around the middle, they finally hit the high note and make a statement that is not just original but that could have only come from them.
    At least it gives me hope for the future."
  • Nat from Nyc, NyI interpret the song as a depiction of thier life on the road in the early 70s ... long, lonely and loaded ...
  • Matt from Washington, Dc, DcI always imagined it to be about escaping to rural China, just about the only place the Stones were anonymous -- dont the time pass slow, don't the nights pass slow -- sound of strangers sending nothing (speaking Chinese) -- silence on my radio -- let the airwaves flow -- sleeping under strange, strange skies -- dreams (nightmares) fading down the railway line -- I'm hiding baby -- I'm coming home, but I'm just about a moonlight mile down the road.
  • Tom from Antelope, CaI'll tell ya what this song is about... It's about aliens!!!! Think about it... Moonlight : when do people get abducted - Nighttime! So far from home - On the alien spaceship! Just another man like me - Aliens are LIKE humans!! Head full of snow - what do aliens like to do - Coke!! See! Can ya dig it? I knew that you could.
  • Sam from Hipsville, CaWas interesting to note that the working title was "the japanese thing"..hence the very oriental sounding intro. Great song!
  • Chuck from Concord, NhThis Stones song completely slipped by my radar initially. Then it was used brilliantly in an episode of The Sopranos, and since then it's on my favorites list. Another great Stones song, Thru and Thru, was also used in The Sopranos series.
  • Ashley from Quincy, Ili love this song it's so pretty it used to make me cry cause i love them so much and they will never know that.
  • George from Little Rock, ArThis song is obviously about cocaine and all of the craziest that come with it. There are too many tongue in cheek reference to drugs for it to be about anything else. I think that this is one of the stones best never gets old to me.
  • Mark from Chicago, IlTowards the end M.J. sings "I'm pining sister and I'm dreaming", not "hiding". To "pine" means to yearn intensely, fits better don't you think?
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaQuite simply, a perfect song. From go to woe, this is pure brilliance. The perfect end to the perfect album. Sticky Fingers is (mostly) an album that revels and celebrates decadence and addiction. Songs like I got the blues, Sister Morphine and this marvellous song, are the results of that lifestyle. That theme is carried over into Exile on Main ST.
  • John from Wilmington, NcA head full of snow is an obvious reference to doing cocaine.
  • Lazarus from Washington, DcGoat's Head Soup continues to be a totally underrated album. Mick Taylor poured his heart and soul into that album, and it was mostly he and Mick Jaggar working together in the studio for that one. Where was Kieth? Who cares. IMHO, that poor excuse for a vampire has been resting on his laurels for far too long.
  • John from Cleveland, OhWith all do respect to yduR of Knoxville, any idiot with half a nut and half a brain could say any rock song with ambiguous lyrics (especially a Stones song) could be interpreted as being about drugs. A "head full of snow" could, and most likely does, refer to the static on a TV set. For my money, XX from Whakatane had it right. It's about the feeling one experiences during a long tour: constant travel to a variety of places, surrounded by masses of people, yet feeling lost and hopeless because you're away from the people that matter most. So you have to keep telling them (and yourself as well) that the distance isn't THAT long, only a "moonlight mile"
  • Dan from Simi Valley, CaThis song was used brilliantly in the final scene of the season six finale of the HBO series The Sopranos
  • Krysten from Odessa, TxThis song is just really elicits emotions perfectly. One of my favorites from the Stones, and definitely underrated.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaWhat a really great underrated song. One of the stone's best.
  • Rory from Victoria, CanadaI absolutely love this song, It might be my favourite Rolling Stones song of all time. I always had Sympathy for the Devil as my number one but after hearing this more and more...I'm less sure.And as for the meaning I think its a little of the "cocaine song" and little of the "away from your family song". I think the intent was to show how the person is miles away from their family in body AND mind.
  • Anthony from Coventry, United StatesPaul Buckmaster did the strings on this track and Keith Richards did not play on this track.
  • Chris from Chicago, IlActually Mick Jagger is the main acoustic guitar on this in Open G tuning.
    Mick Taylor plays the other parts.
    No Keith.
  • Ydur from Knoxville, TnThis is an obvious cocaine song; moonlight miles are lines of cocaine done on a mirror at night, usually during a lengthy session. Jagger also says early in the song "with a head full of snow".

    It's about using drugs as an escape from emotional pain. The music is beautiful, but if you listen to the lyrics closely, you will hear a heartbreaking story; this is common in much of the Stone's work.

    Also, to quote Dave Marsh, Charlie Watts drumming and Paul Buckminister's string arrangement on this are landmarks of Rock and Roll.

  • Xx from Whakatane, Hong KongThis gem is about not wanting to be on the road, moonlight miles away from who you really want to be with. It starts out slow and gentle and hits a cinematic climax with "Yeah, I'm coming home/'Cause I'm just about a moonlight mile on down the road/Down the road, down the road, yeah" and ends with tinkling, Oriental-style guitar(Keith Richards' playing on this song).

    The best Rolling Stones song ever.
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruActually, Mick Jagger played an acoustic guitar for this song, so Mick Taylor didn't do all the guitar work.
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