Album: Tattoo You (1981)

Songfacts®:

  • This rocker is a musical showcase for the band, with a blues feel and a saxophone solo by the jazz great Sonny Rollins. Lyrically, there's not much to it, with Mick Jagger repeating "do it" and "don't wanna be your slave" over and over. There is a short spoken part where he asks the lady to steal something for him at the supermarket, but that's as far as the story develops.
  • Originally recorded at the Black And Blue sessions in 1974, this song went on for a while and was called "The Black And Blue Jam" before being reworked for the 1981 album Tattoo You. It runs 4:55 on most versions of the vinyl album, but on CD and in digital forms of the album, a longer version running 6:34 was used.
  • Pete Townshend from The Who sang backup. Some connections between Townshend and The Stones:

    Townshend claims he stole his legendary windmill arm swing from Keith Richards.

    The Who played at The Stones Rock And Roll Circus concert event in 1968. The film wasn't released until 1996.

    In 1976, Townshend contributed to Ron Wood and Ronnie Lane's Mahoney's Last Stand project.

    In 1982, following the end of the Stones' European tour, Mick Jagger accompanied The Who for parts of their farewell tour. The following year, on Mick's 40th birthday, Townshend wrote an unflattering letter in the London Times commenting on the significance of this event.

    Townshend played on Mick Jaggers first solo album in 1984.

    In February 1986, Townshend was one of those present when the Stones gave their London club performance in honor of Ian Stewart, joining the band onstage for some Blues numbers.

    In January 1989, he inducted The Stones into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    In 2001, he played on the songs "Gun" and "Joy" for Jagger's Goddess In The Doorway album. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The original version recorded in 1974 featured Billy Preston on organ, Jeff Beck on guitar, and Nicky Hopkins on piano. Their parts were erased when it was reworked.
  • The Stones didn't have a problem working the word "slave" into their songs. Note the opening lines of "Brown Sugar":

    Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
    Sold in the market down in New Orleans
  • Sonny Rollins played sax on three Tattoo You tracks: This song, "Waiting On A Friend," and "Neighbours." Uncut magazine asked the jazz great how he ended up playing with The Rolling Stones on their album. "My wife, Lucille, convinced me to get involved," he said. "I was a little bit dismissive when they asked me, but she said, 'Man, it's the Stones!' I was always more of a Beatles man - that Paul McCartney is a great songwriter. But I used to look down on music that I thought wasn't on the same level as jazz.

    Anyway, the Stones got me into a studio and played me a few songs they'd recorded and asked me to play over the top. Kinda riffing, really. They sent me a copy of the record and a lovely letter, but I never listen to my old recordings. It was only when I was in some grocery store in Upstate New York, quite a long time later, where I heard one of those tracks again, and I thought, hey, that's me! Slave was it called? Yeah, they could get funky, those guys!"

Comments: 5

  • Breadfan from Jacksonville, FloridaThe 6:34 version was on vinyl on a several different pressings. Here is one example: https://www.discogs.com/The-Rolling-Stones-Tattoo-You/release/8847531
  • Chupon from Your BasementHad this song ever been used in film or TV?
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaAnother WHO & STONES connection is missed. In fact, maybe the most famous of all. In 1967, The Who rush released a version of Under my Thumb. The intention was to keep the Stones work in the public eye while Mick & Keith were in jail.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI really like the sax part.
  • Keith from Front Royal, VaMan, the lead at the end of this is unfreakinbelievable! Keith Richards is a master at grasping the feeling of a song and then nailing it perfectly.
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