Waiting On A Friend

Album: Tattoo You (1981)
Charted: 50 13
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  • This is a rare mature reflection from The Stones, as Mick Jagger sings about the values of friendship as opposed to women. Then again, it might be about drugs. Keith Richards was a heroin user at the time, and the song could be a euphemism for waiting on the "connection" - the man with the drugs. Should Keith (or in this case, Mick, as he is singing in the video) get questioned by the police, his response would be, "I'm just waiting on a friend." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Russell - High Desert, CA
  • Originally recorded in 1972 at the sessions for their album Goats Head Soup, "Waiting On A Friend" didn't make the cut but was repackaged and released on Tattoo You nine years later. Released as a single, it did very well in America thanks to the advent of MTV; the network launched in 1981 and was thrilled to have a new video by a rock band of The Stones' stature.
  • There are no musician credits on Tattoo You, but it's clear that Mick Taylor contributed on guitar, which he was not compensated for. Taylor left The Stones in 1974.
  • Think this is about waiting for a woman? Think again. Mick Jagger said in 1983: "Just let me be cynical for a moment. First of all, it's really NOT about waiting on a woman friend. It's just about a FRIEND; it doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman. I can see people saying, Oh, we're all much older now, Mick's writing this much more compassionate stuff, must be about a real person. But that's only in their perception of it." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The Stones hired jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins to play on the Tattoo You album. He played on this as well as the tracks "Neighbours" and "Slave."
  • The music video is very literal: Mick Jagger is standing in a doorway, waiting for his friend (Keith Richards) to come by. Then they go to a bar and meet up with the rest of the band. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who did their Rock and Roll Circus special in 1968, it did very well on MTV despite the very simple concept; the network launched a few months before the song was released as a single, and they were desperate for big-name rock acts.

    The video was filmed in New York City; the building where they are waiting also shows up on the cover of Led Zeppelin's album Physical Graffiti.
  • This also features Nicky Hopkins on piano, Jimmy Miller on percussion and Kasper Winding on tambourine. Winding was a Danish session drummer who played on the Tattoo You sessions.
  • Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day says this is the song he wants played at his funeral. "It's one of the best songs they've ever written," he told Entertainment Weekly. When you're up in heaven, or wherever you're at, you're just waiting for friends to come along."

Comments: 30

  • Brian from AshevilleI just have one question... what's going on in Walnut Creek, CA?
  • Westy Raviz from FloridaStop calling the dreadlocked guy sitting on the stairs Peter Tosh. That isn’t Peter Tosh. Peter Tosh does not appear in the video at all.
  • Michael from Walnut Creek CaTo the person that thinks its not about sex drugs alcohol it is and there is nothing wrong with that it was the way things were in that era they have changed with the times but if you think
  • Kevin from Walnut Creek, CaTo me this song is about someone who has moved past the shallow experiences of casual hookups and realizes that they what they really want is a deeper romantic relationship with someone who can be a lover AND a friend. There's a tenderness to the lyrics and delivery that suggest that to me. And the soft sax just sends me adrift...
  • Zabo from Pugh, Pa.Jerry Hall makes a cameo in this video.
    She walks past Jagger with another woman while he's standing in that doorway . She's either in blue or purple. But it's her the tall Texan blonde.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InOne of the very best from the Stones.
    Love Sonny's sax playing, and the guitar nicely conveys a bit of melancholy.
  • Michael from Seymour, CtThis song is the Stones tribute to John Lennon released in 1981...though it was recorded in 1972 or so - It was their statement at the time and adjusted to reflect this:

    "....I'm just trying to make some sense..."

    "...A smile relieves a heart that grieves..."

    "...Don't need a virgin priest; But I need someone I can cry to..."

    ...altough never formally declared this I believe the above lines relate to John are The Stones way of paying tribute to their fallen friend

  • Josh from Westborough, Mau're all stupid. the song's about waiting on a friend. everyone always has to connect it with drugs and sex and alcohol. it's not about any of those things. can't there be one wholesome, innocent song that isn't thrown into the mud by u idiots?
  • Josh from Westborough, Mau're all stupid. the song's about waiting on a friend. everyone always has to connect it with drugs and sex and alcohol. it's not about any of those things. can't there be one wholesome, innocent song that isn't thrown into the mud by u idiots?
  • Louie from Sunny Isles Beach Florida, FlHey Russell, you hit it right on the head. Not only is it about heroin,as were many of their songs (and influenced greatly by Keith's extraordinary habit -- Mick was into it too, but not like Keith), but the video was filmed within the Alphabet City of NYC's Lower East side which, at the time, was a notorious drug dealing mecca specializing in Heroin. Amazing Keith is still alive!! And what great musicians...just to make such fantastic art in such "out there" conditions!
  • Steve from Salt Lake City, UtAnd all this time I just thought this was about a guy waiting on very good friend that happened to be a girl. I think the stones did so many songs about sex and drugs by the time this came out that everyone was trying to figure what it was really about. this song has always reminded me of a friend I had in High Schcool. I'm not sure what I was waiting for, but I know it wasn't sex or drugs.
  • Robert from Gilbert, AzWhile this song is I think, about Mick and Keith, sometimes I think it is indeed about a women, something more than just a good time for once, something deeper and more meaningful.
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaIn addition to TATTOO YOU's "Waiting On a Friend," Mick Taylor appeared on its song "Tops," resulting in Taylor suing the Stones for his cut of royalties. Apparently they reached a settlement and Taylor got his money.
  • Neil from Liverpool, U.k., EnglandYes indeed, it is a 'goats head soup' outtake recorded in nov.'72 & I have the original '72 take on bootleg - and yes, mick taylor is on bass. The sax was done in 1980 is by legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins and the Stones played this song live to great degree on the 1981 'still life' tour where, in Koln, Germany, they played 'Tops' also from 'tattoo you' and also a GHS outtake. The way 'WOAF' is featured in the 1989 '25 X 5' documentary illustrating the friendship between mick n keef makes me cry sometimes.The stones returned to this song on the the 1997 'bridges to babylon' tour. GREAT SONG!
  • Dave from Scottsdale, AzI spent 18 years working in the grocery business. I remember when "easy listening adult-oriented" soft-rock music broadcast in the store replaced the orchestrated muzak we listened to for years. I ran around the store telling my fellow employees to listen to the words of this song every time it came on. "Don't need a whore
    I don't need no booze
    Don't need a virgin priest"
    was a far cry from Lawrence welk. I remember wondering didn't anybody really listen to this song when they programmed it?

  • Billy from Birmingham, EnglandThat's the most accurate description of the song I've ever read. I used to sing this to myself in a similair situation.
  • Fyodor from Denver, Co"the values of friendship as opposed to women"? Um, couldn't a woman be a friend, too? That was always my interpretation (though I wouldn't claim to be right), that he *is* waiting on a woman, but one who's a platonic friend, so he doesn't think of her the way he would if it were a date. There's an air of sadness and longing to the song because the protagonist would like to be romanticly involved with her, but he's also resigned to this being the best way. He's kind of holding his wishes and desires back by telling himself she's a friend, not a lady. Seem possible? The music just seems too romantic sounding to me to just be about a guy. About the drug reference, as I and others here have said before, a song can have more than one meaning! I confess I had no idea it was originally recorded in 1972. It sure seems to have that clean, swanky sound that kind of started on Some Girls. Maybe they fixed it in the mix! Reading up on Taylor on allmusic.com, it seems he's kept busy since leaving the Stones, even if he's never again scaled Stones-like heights of rock superstardom or even come close. Keith Richard has told Guitar Player magazine that Taylor was an outstanding musician but he has a better musical rapport with Ron Wood.
  • Greg from Victoria, CanadaA great song and IMO the last good album the Stones made. Great sax....Thanx to Joe, Clifton, NJ..."That's jazz legend Sonny Rollins on saxophone."
  • Marie from HulstYour friend has been waiting for you at her house to come knocking at her door.
    The reason why she hasn't knocked on yours is because she is a lady.
    Was that you I passed by wearing those blue shades, expecting me to stop?
    You know where I live, I expect you to be there when I get home.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaThis song is awesome. I love sax, and the rolling stones do well with it. Great message, too.
  • Homero from Monterrey , MexicoOnly the best sax.
  • Ydur from Knoxville, TnThe B side of this single is "A Little T and A", probably the most obscene song (in terms of the sheer number of expletives used) the Stones ever did.
  • Joe from Clifton, NjThat's jazz legend Sonny Rollins on saxophone.
  • Craig from Madison, WiThe last great Rolling Stones song.
  • Xx from Whakatane, Hong KongA great song and (for once) a nice video too. It's always nice when Mick and Keith are friends...their fights are bloody hell for their fans. Tattoo You, made from mostly outtakes and with only one new song(Heaven), was made during a period when Mick and Keith were having strained relations. But Waiting on a Friend was a glimmer of hope; they're fighting now, but at the end of the day, one of them(probably Mick) will be waiting around for the other(probably Keith) and they'll just go off together.
  • Henkjan from Naarden, NetherlandsTaylor fell into obscurity after leaving The Stones in 1974. Latest information on Mick Taylor: Mick Taylor lives in Groningen, The Netherlands and plays in a bluesband with Dutch musicians.
  • Natasha from Chico, CaThis song kinda came as a surprise. It was so much calmer and non-sexual. The Stones will always live on...
  • Charlie from Thomaston, Dcgood saxophone in that song start me up and waiting on a freind are the best from tattoo you, i love the stones
  • Justin from New York, NyThe bar where the band sang at the end of the video was the old St. Marks Bar down on 1st Ave and St. Marks Place. The neon mural of the band hung behind the pool table for years, until the bar was sold. Sadly, the new owners tore down a bar chock full of character and history, only to put up yet another yuppified lounge.

    If you go travel around the corner on St. Mark's, you'll see the original stoop where this video was shot. Right across the street is the building used for the cover of Led Zepplin's "Physical Graffiti" album.
  • Eli from Albuquerque, NmIn the video the rasta sitting on the stoop with Mick Jagger is Peter Tosh
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