Stop Breaking Down

Album: Exile on Main St. (1972)


  • This was originally recorded by the blues singer Robert Johnson in 1937. In the liner notes to Johnson's Complete Recordings, released in 1990, Keith Richards explained: "Brian Jones had the first album, and that's where I first heard it. I'd just met Brian, and I went around to his apartment - crash pad, actually, all he had in it was a chair, a record player, and a few records. One of which was Robert Johnson. He put it on, and it was just - you know - astounding stuff. When I first heard it, I said to Brian, Who's that? Robert Johnson, he said. Yeah, but who's the other guy playing with him? Because I was hearing two guitars, and it took me a long time to realize he was actually doing it all by himself. The guitar playing - it was almost like listening to Bach. You know, you think you're getting a handle on playing the blues, and then you hear Robert Johnson - some of the rhythms he's doing and playing and singing at the same time, you think, This guy must have three brains! You want to know how good the blues can get? Well, this is it." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The Stones recorded in 1970 at Olympic Studios in London. Most of the album was recorded in France, where The Stones went to avoid paying taxes in England.
  • The Stones' record label at the time, ABKCO Music, lost the rights to this in year 2000 when a court ruled that this, along with "Love In Vain," were the property of Robert Johnson's estate. The Stones thought the copyright on the song had expired.
  • This was one of three songs on Exile on Main St. where Ian Stewart played piano. They used Nicky Hopkins on most tracks from the album.
  • The White Stripes covered this on their self-titled debut album. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Andy Johns, who engineered the Exile on Main St. sessions, told Goldmine magazine in 2010: "'Stop Breaking Down' is probably my favorite track. I remember getting Mick to play harmonica on that. It did not seem like it was finished. My brother (Glyn) had recorded earlier. I said, 'We've got to use this' because Mick Taylor plays some gorgeous lines and I'm very sure that it's Mick Jagger playing the rhythm guitar as well. That's why it's a little choppier."

Comments: 8

  • Rauw from Amstelveen"Brian Jones had the first album" says Keith in the liner notes, talking about his first time hearing the song. But Robert Johnson's original Stop Breaking Down was only released in 1970 on the second album, volume 2. We forgive Keith, of course. The Stones probably recorded SBD originally in 1970 because they heard it first that year.
  • Demian from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaRobert jhonson be happy from to heaven.
  • Toe from C Town, OhOut of 1,713 songs on my Ipod, this one has been played the most.
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaThis is a great rollicking track.
  • Andrew from New York, United StatesHate to tell you, but ABKCO (that s**mbag thief, Allen Klein, 's record label) had nothing to do with this album. "Exile on Main Street", a reference to the Stones' status as tax exiles from England, was the second LP issued on the Stones' own "Rolling Stones Records" label, and, as stated above, Allen Klein's company had nothing to do with it.

    I had not heard the story of the rights issue- do you have a link to the story? I thought the lifetime of a copyright at that time was the artist's lifetime plus 25 years after. Robert Johnson, the brilliant Bluesman, died August 16, 1938, according to his Death Certificate. 1972, when "Exile" was released, was 34 years later. I'd love to see a link to the story.
    This song is great fun to play- it's in Open-G, like most of Keith's classic parts, capoed at the second fret; however, there's a twist. Keith doesn't tune the low E (6th) string down to D, so you actually have a G6 tuning! Mick Taylor's cool slide part is in "standard Open-G", if there is such a thing, also caped at the second fret....
  • Ethan from Portland, Ora true classic.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThe original by Robert Johnson is my favorite but both versions are good and different from each other.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaThis is a pretty good blues Stones cover, it deserves more comments.
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