Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones
00:24 Don Seckler: Hey, welcome to Inside the Album with Don. I’m Don Seckler and with Tommy, that’s Tommy Hilcken over here. How are you doing, Tommy? Good to see you.
00:32 Tommy Hilcken: Don, always good to see you, and yes, I am Tommy Hilcken.
00:37 TH: Nice.
00:37 DS: This is our second episode. Last week, we started off with Black Sabbath, their debut album. If you like Black Sabbath, check that episode out. One other thing we wanna ask you to do is make sure that you subscribe. So if you’re on YouTube, hit that subscribe button. Whatever platform, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, hit that subscribe button, it can really help us out. Today, we are going to dive into an album by the Rolling Stones and it’s gonna be Sticky Fingers which is, of course, a classic, one of the all-time greats.
01:11 TH: I was thinking about why the Stones, right? We could have thought of Exile on Main Street, Let It Bleed, Beggars Banquet, right?
01:17 DS: There’s a million of them.
01:19 TH: Yeah. And we went with Sticky Fingers and I’m so glad we did. I can’t wait to go over this today. It’s gonna be just amazing. It really is.
01:26 DS: Yeah. So you know… And this is kind of, you know, even though it’s a well-known album, I think because of the cover for a lot of people, but it’s still… There’s so many great songs on this album. It’s really… I mean, it’s almost a greatest hits. So we’re gonna dive into that a little bit.
01:44 TH: It’s interesting you say that. We can take the dive, but going over the album, listening to the album, just say, “This is a greatest hits album, man.” Think about it.
01:52 DS: Yeah.
01:53 TH: It really is.
01:53 DS: Really is.
01:54 TH: Not a bad song on either side, which is always nice to say either side, ’cause…
02:00 DS: Exactly. [chuckle]
02:02 TH: There is a B-side.
02:04 DS: Yeah. Exactly, right? We are also doing some work with a charity called Music for Mark. Tommy, tell us about that charity and how people can get involved.
02:14 TH: Thanks, Don. We’re just keeping the music alive. It’s our foundation, it’s called Music for Mark, and what we do is we raise funds so we can give kids musical lessons and musical instruments. So really what it comes down to is we love the music, we’re here talking about the music, our life, you and I, since we connected, built a relationship, started out as a friendship, but it was built on music, it’s what our love is. So what we wanna do is through this, through the podcast, is bring music to the world. Get kids some guitars, get them some pianos, get them some music lessons, that’s our goal. Raise awareness for the foundation through Inside the Album, and I think it’s a perfect fit hand in hand, and God knows it’s what we were meant to do.
02:56 DS: Yeah.
02:56 TH: So that’s what it’s about. Let’s bring music to the world.
02:58 DS: Exactly, right? The more the better.
03:02 TH: Think about it, right?
03:03 DS: So with Sticky Fingers, like I was saying before, it’s such a classic record. It’s got really like top Rolling Stones songs, starting off with Brown Sugar right out of the gate, Wild Horses, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Bitch, Dead Flowers, and you know… So it’s really… I mean, half the album is greatest hits. It really is. And that’s why I love it so much.
03:28 TH: You know, going forward, what you were saying is, what it is about this album that I love And we say it’s almost greatest hits, but the songs people don’t hear, and the songs that people don’t hear on the radio are just killer, and the reason that… So it’s kinda like the radio took over these popular songs which we’re gonna go over, but the songs that maybe you might not listen to are here, you have to. I really…
03:53 DS: They are great.
03:54 TH: You have to listen to them.
03:54 DS: They’re great, great, yeah.
03:56 TH: Yeah.
03:56 DS: Tremendous music.
03:57 TH: Yeah. A lot went on with this album.
04:00 DS: Yeah. So well, let’s talk about the band first, because the band was kind of in a state of flux at this point in their career.
04:06 TH: Sure. Yeah.
04:08 DS: This album was their 11th album, and it was 1971 when it was released, but it was mostly recorded in ’69, ’70. So you got Mick Jagger, which everybody knows, you know, Moves like Jagger, all that kinda fun stuff. Keith Richards, which of course, everybody knows because the guy just goes on and on and is always rock solid. Bill Wyman was the bass player at the time, long time bass player with the Stones, just left I think in the early 2000s, and then Charlie Watts, just rock solid drummer.
04:44 DS: And the flux was from the other guitar player which, who was Brian Jones at the beginning. And Brian had a lot of issues with drugs and I think during the recording of the album before this, Let It Bleed, Brian didn’t show up or showed up so out of it that they had to bring in Mick Taylor to play those guitar parts.
05:08 TH: It’s the sad part of the Stones being is Brian Jones literally got fired from the Stones, and soon after his life went completely downhill, and he died.
05:18 DS: Yeah, yeah. He died actually…
05:19 TH: One of the sadder parts.
05:20 DS: A month after they let him go, which is super sad. And you know, think about it, where you’re in a band, where you’re more out of it than Keith Richards in the late ’60s or early ’70s, you know. [chuckle]
05:37 TH: It is a bar, right? It is a bar… [chuckle] Not too many people are gonna ever reach the bar of Keith Richards.
05:45 DS: Right. So if you look at the movie that came out, Gimme Shelter, which is about the Stones right before this, where they played at Altamont, and there was a stabbings, with Hells Angels, it was a nightmare and a mess. One of the interesting things is when all hell breaks loose and it’s right in front of the stage, you can see what’s going on, there’s mayhem. And Mick goes over to Keith, and Keith is playing I think Sympathy for the Devil, and he’s so out of it, he’s just jamming away and Mick’s like holding his shoulders and shaking him, going, “Keith, stop playing.”
06:17 TH: Yeah. “We gotta do something, man.”
06:19 DS: You know, when you say, you know… I know… It’s definitely very sad that Mick Taylor was… Or Brian Jones had the issues with drugs and stuff, but Keith was equally out of it at the time, so… There’s also some other things where Keith wasn’t even in the studio for a couple of their recordings, which we’ll talk about.
06:40 TH: Yeah.
06:41 DS: With Mick Taylor on board, it kinda changed the Stones’ sound a little bit because Keith found that he was able to kinda do more of that weaving that the Stones do with the guitar, you know, you have… Now, it’s Keith and Ron Wood, but back then, Mick Taylor was kinda that… A similar blues player who could fit in to that kinda pocket that Keith left, because Keith… When Keith Richards plays guitar, he leaves a lot of space.
07:08 TH: Oh.
07:09 DS: Which you don’t see very often.
07:11 TH: You know, Keith Richards is a truly, truly, truly down to earth rock and roller, Chuck Berry-esque, you know, where just a few chords, it’s all you need, I’m gonna play a couple of chords, it’s what I do, and Mick Taylor brought fluidity to the band.
07:27 DS: Yeah.
07:27 TH: He made the songs more fluid. They actually… He was such a terrific guitar player, which we’ll talk about the challenges he had with the Stones being so good.
07:36 DS: Yeah.
07:36 TH: That it’s something interesting. But he brought fluidity to the songs which made them into the lovely, truly tremendous songs that they are. He brought so much to the band.
07:46 DS: Yeah. And they really play off each other really well.
07:49 TH: Really well.
07:49 DS: And that makes the difference. When you get a band that can jam and go with the flow and stuff comes out of it, it brings another level of musicianship to it. So that was an interesting thing, and it really, it kinda changed the Stones into… It wasn’t like they weren’t a riff band before, but they became much more of these memorable riffs that really, really stuck in your head, and the guitarists playing off each other. So it really changed their sound, which is interesting.
08:21 TH: Yeah. This is certainly an album of riffs, classic riffs, that if anybody hears it, you just played a riff, you go right to it. You go right to where you were where you first heard it, where… What song it is, powerful. We’ll discuss that as we go along when we start to talk about the songs, but the riffs, you’re right, is really what made this album a classic.
08:41 DS: Yeah. And to me, this is the first album really with… I mean, this is to me, where the Stones’ sound that we know it as really kinda came together.
08:50 TH: Yeah.
08:51 DS: So another thing, when we look back at that time, so it’s 1971, this is kinda close to what we talked about last episode, which was the first Black Sabbath album, but on the charts, they were seeing stuff like Three Dog Night, Elton John, Janis Joplin. The other interesting thing was The Beatles solo albums started coming out, so you had the George Harrison album, John had one with Yoko and The Plastic Ono Band I think it was, maybe it was not at the time, and then also…
09:23 TH: McCartney had…
09:24 DS: McCartney had his first album.
09:25 TH: Oh. Yeah. The McCartney album, yeah, huge.
09:29 DS: Yeah. So there was kind of a rock thing going on, I mean, you know… So the album actually did really well, it got to number two in Holland, it got to number five in the US, it got to number seven in the UK, and not a pop record. Pop, at the time, was a lot different than it is now, it was lot more laid back.
09:49 TH: The Stones took this to a whole another level when you think about it, right? You were mentioning the Three Dog Night, nice band. The Beatles, a nice band. The Stones literally in their mind, even when they’re writing their music, they always wanted to have that edge, the rougher edge than everyone else, right? They were the bad boys of rock and roll.
10:09 DS: Right.
10:10 TH: They thought of themselves that this is who are, we’re always… ‘Cause think about that, competing with The Beatles, right? Now, you look throughout history, right? There’s people who loved the Stones and there’s people who loved The Beatles, and I mean, you have a balance where you gotta pick out which one is which, not too many people have a true love for both because it’s that different in the music.
10:32 DS: Yeah. So different. I mean, the Stones are so heavily blues-based. Keith is a blues player.
10:38 TH: Yeah.
10:39 DS: And one of the things that’s actually interesting about that is… So Keith Richards plays a lot of open tunings, and he learned this from the old blues guys who kinda cheated, so they’d tune the guitar so when you hit it, there was a chord and then you use basically one finger on the fretboard. So you’re whacking through those chords, you’re not even fretting, really, you’re just kind of putting a bar and sliding it up and down.
11:04 TH: Yeah. Just thinking about what you’re saying with the… I Got The Blues is on the album, and one of their heroes and why it’s so bluesy and they always were, of The Beatles where we’re just saying George Harrison was the only guy that really took some liking to the earlier music before him, and but in reality, Keith Richards was hooked in and Mick loved Muddy Waters.
11:26 DS: Yeah.
11:26 TH: A big influence on them was Muddy.
11:29 DS: Yeah, yeah.
11:30 TH: The guitar work you’re talking about, I just wanna throw this out, I remember when people used to talk about BB King, they used to say it was not the notes that he played, it was the ones that he didn’t.
11:42 DS: Exactly.
11:42 TH: Mick loved that, right? ‘Cause that was his thing, like you were saying about Keith.
11:47 DS: And that’s… Yeah. And you definitely see that in Keith Richards’ playing. It’s the spaces around the notes.
11:52 TH: Yup.
11:52 DS: So he comes in there, and you can see it when he’s on stage. It’s…
11:58 DS: He’s barely strumming. You know, a lot of guys are up there…
12:03 DS: And he just is hitting that boom, it’s accents, it’s that space and the sound, again, the quiet and the noise, that makes a big contrast, it makes a big difference in how it sounds.
12:15 TH: With the Stones done, when you’re saying that, really sit down one day and listen to the music, right? We get caught up because they had such big hits that you just… You get into the song, but really, if you’re thinking… ‘Cause I want to mention this. Between Keith and Charlie Watts, both of them play a similar type of… Charlie Watts plays a very basic but dynamic drums. He never misses a beat. He’s always spot on, right? He’s like… He’s almost like the perfect drummer…
12:44 DS: When you look at his kit… You look at his drum kit, right? He’s got a one tom tom, a floor tom, I think, and his bass, a snare and bass drum, and a couple of cymbals. He’s an old jazz drummer. And so, you know… Yeah. It’s…
13:00 TH: But listen. Listen to it. It’ll blow your mind when you’re listening to the music. Forget about it that’s a great hit. Forget that it’s Brown Sugar. Listen to the music behind the lyrics, everything that’s coming out of it, it’s actually amazing what the sound they’ve made. It really is.
13:15 DS: Yeah. For sure.
13:16 TH: Yeah.
13:18 DS: Sticky Fingers was the first album released on Rolling Stone Records, and the Stones had finished up their first contract, they had a contract with one company in America, one in England, and that it was all, had run its course. And so, they decided to kind of get away from their former manager, who was Allen Klein, and this guy kinda screwed them over by ending up with their copyrights for the ’60s material. And depending on who you ask, there was some shadiness in how that happened. So it was a chance for them to kinda get out on their own and control their own destiny a little bit more.
13:58 TH: Back in the day when you look at it, losing the rights to your own music happened quite a bit without even knowing it when you signed with a record company.
14:07 DS: Yeah.
14:08 TH: You became kind of sort of property, and everything you owned became theirs.
14:13 DS: Right.
14:13 TH: So think about all the music that the Stones, I don’t wanna say lost, but really had no control over.
14:20 DS: Yeah.
14:20 TH: Interesting way to look at it.
14:22 DS: So let’s talk about the cover a little bit, because it’s very interesting. I don’t know too many people who have the original cover from when it was first released anymore. I was lucky enough to see a copy when it, you know, back in the day. So tell us about the album cover and what makes it so special.
14:41 TH: Well, when you think about it, the first time I saw it, I was just a kid. Well, it has a guy standing with his pants, all you can see is his lower half of his torso, and a pair of pants with a golden zipper that actually worked.
14:55 DS: Yeah. And the belt buckle worked too.
14:58 TH: So when you think about it, eye-catching and everything that’s not supposed to happen, but it’s pure rock and roll, and yeah, that’s what it was. It was a zipper that actually worked, the guy, I might as well say a guy who had a bulge.
15:13 DS: Down to his knee.
15:15 TH: And I’ll break it here, it’s not Jagger. That was the rumor.
15:18 DS: No. That was the rumor. Yeah.
15:20 TH: That it was Jagger, but we know. But that album cover, I remember seeing it for the first time, being locked right into it, it was so different than anything else anybody ever did, and that being said, the Stones were big believers in investing in marketing and advertising and branding, right? Think about the logo we’re gonna talk about, but that album was branded, right? So, so much without even seeing the music, people were running out to get that album.
15:46 DS: Yeah.
15:46 TH: But that being said, Don, let me throw this out there, if anybody listening, send us a picture if you have the original of you holding it, we’d love to see it.
15:54 DS: Yeah. That would be great, right?
15:56 TH: Yeah. We’d love to put it up on the website. So any of you guys like our age, send it through to us, we’d love to see it. Really would.
16:03 DS: Yeah. So and because of that male bulge in the, you know, in the pants from the album cover.
16:09 TH: Yeah. The male bulge.
16:11 DS: They had to make a separate cover for some other countries that weren’t, you know, wanted to censor it. So they actually have one in… And we’ll show it here. It’s actually fingers in what says Fowler’s Treacle or Treacle, I don’t even know how to say that.
16:27 DS: But it basically looks like fingers in a can of blood. [chuckle] I don’t know if that’s better.
16:32 TH: Motor oil or grease or something.
16:35 DS: Yeah. Yeah.
16:36 TH: Yeah. Yeah.
16:37 DS: It’s kinda gross. [chuckle]
16:39 TH: You know what it was, the first country that had totally outlawed it was France. It wasn’t allowed to come in. Yeah. They just… They literally cut it out and said, “No. It’s not coming in.” France in Europe, you know, like you just said, I don’t know where it was ranked in Europe, but it’s a big, big industry for them over from being in England. And if France outlaws it, they had to do something to get the album sold. So they didn’t really think twice about it, they just switched it up and changed it.
17:04 DS: Yeah. So there are those two versions out there. Almost everybody knows the pants one, but this is also the first time like you mentioned before, Tom, that they used that tongue and lips logo.
17:15 TH: Yeah.
17:16 DS: Which is now synonymous with the Rolling Stones.
17:20 TH: Yeah. Believe it or not, it’s gonna be celebrating, I believe 50 years.
17:23 DS: It is 50. Yeah.
17:25 TH: 50 years. And they only did that, created that logo is when they created Rolling Stones Records, they wanted to brand themselves differently, go forward as a completely different entity than they were, and let’s face it, it’s like the number one T-shirt in rock and roll, that logo.
17:43 DS: Oh, yeah. Well, super recognizable. It’s almost like a Nike. It’s so well-known.
17:48 TH: Yeah. It’s up there. As we would say, it’s probably iconic.
17:54 DS: I think you could definitely safely go with iconic.
17:57 TH: Yeah. Let’s go with… We’ll go with iconic on that one.
18:00 TH: Yeah. Everybody has it. Somewhere, somehow, everybody knows what it is.
18:03 DS: Yeah.
18:04 TH: Yeah.
18:05 DS: So here’s something that’s kind of interesting. So when they recorded this album, they wanted to record in Muscle Shoals, which is a… Was a well-known R&B studio, these guys are super into R&B.
18:20 TH: Yep.
18:21 DS: And at that time, they actually went to the wrong place. [chuckle] So there is… Actually, the studio they went to was called Muscle Shoal Sound, but it was actually in Sheffield, and that’s right next door to the town of Muscle Shoals. And in Muscle Shoals, there’s another studio that was called Rick’s Hall… Rick Hall’s Famous or Fame Studios, I think. It was like Rick Hall’s Fame Studios. So that’s where Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Otis Redding, and a whole bunch of other classic soul and R&B people had recorded. And the Stones went to this other studio which was not the same studio. So they walked into this place and it was kind of a little dumpy studio, but they went in there and recorded part of the album there.
19:17 TH: That’s awesome. Yeah. Muscle Shoals, many a person has recorded, like you said, one of the greatest places you could ever go, so I could understand why they took their album there.
19:27 DS: Yeah. Exactly. So they did part of it there, and they did recording also at London’s Olympic Studios, and also Mick Jagger had a countryside home in England with a mobile studio kind of nearby. And actually, that’s a place where Led Zeppelin actually recorded a bunch of their albums, at Mick’s place, so that’s crazy.
19:50 TH: I would like to be a fly on the wall there, man. Yeah.
19:54 DS: Could you imagine, right?
19:55 TH: Well, listen, it’s the ages of sex and drugs and rock and roll, man. And it’s exactly what was going on, and it’s exactly what they were bringing to the world. So very, very incredible time of our lives.
20:10 DS: So let’s dive into the songs here. So the album starts off with Brown Sugar, which I have to imagine pretty much everybody, except maybe some younger people may not know it. But that song actually was debuted at Altamont while they were… Before they had actually recorded. So they had been working on it a little bit. It turns out that Mick Jagger actually wrote that song when he was in Australia doing some kind of filming for a movie. And so when you hear that riff, you could kinda… When you know that, you can listen to it and go, “Oh, yeah, that’s really not Keith.” That’s a much more… I don’t wanna say simplistic, but it’s definitely not a guitar great riff. You know what I mean? So you hear it, and it is a great riff, definitely, but you can tell that it’s not somebody who’s an expert expert guitar player, I think.
21:13 TH: Right. And you know what, when you think about all the guitar work ever done, some of the greatest chords, even when you think about the opening of Layla, everybody, it’s like, those chords, everybody in the world knows them. It’s not the most difficult thing in the world to play but everybody yet thinks it is.
21:31 DS: Well, and that’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Rock and roll a lot of times is very simple. But this is also the first album that Jagger actually played guitar on. So he hadn’t really been playing guitar, even though he is a musician and a guitar player and has a lot of musical talent, he’s a great drummer allegedly. So all those things are kinda going to the mix of the song. And so Jagger basically wrote this song in a field and then they came back and worked it into what it is now.
22:00 TH: Well, you think about the lyrics too. I was actually listening to them, going over them, hearing them again, and just so fresh. And it’s kind of like a tough thing that if you were gonna bring it into today’s world. It’s based on a slave ship and slaves, black women and sex. And it’s kinda heavy duty where these guys were free to talk about that in the early ’70s and throughout. And then the world changed, but you look at those lyrics, they’re pretty heavy duty. You know what I mean? What they’re actually talking about.
22:34 DS: And it goes back to them kinda going for that kind of grungier edge where they’re gonna be the dirty bad boys. And so it gets, I feel like a little misogynistic at times. But back then times were so different than they are now, and what was acceptable to say and things like that or to talk about is a lot different.
22:58 TH: Different world. Different world and all good that we were part of it, lived it, know it, you know what I mean? It’s just a completely different outlook on the way things… Guys treated women and how women treated guys. It goes vice versa back then. We lived through it. These were my teen years. So I get it, I know what it’s all about. But what about… I just wanna touch on the sax. You have the name there. Keys is his last name.
23:28 DS: Bobby Keys.
23:28 TH: Yeah, he toured with the Stones for over 40 years. And just the sax in Brown Sugar. This guy. No wonder the Stones… Believe me when I tell you, the Stones didn’t hang on to a lot of guys, because we’ll talk about that a little further about really who the Stones are and who they always will be. But man, he was amazing. And just toured with them forever and really, in a lot of their live shows, he tore it up. He was the guy.
23:55 DS: Oh, yeah, great. Well, and this was… They brought in horns on this album, and it was again, a kind of a throwback to that R&B. And if you listen to a lot of soul, R&B stuff in the late ’60s, early ’70s, huge horn sections. Big, everything was horn-driven, even the pop music. You get into Herb Alpert and that kind of stuff, there were whole albums that were just driven by horns. So they brought these horns in. And the thing about horns, especially like a saxophone, it’s very similar to guitar sound. So the way the notes are and the sound, you could take a good saxophone part and easily play it on guitar.
24:36 TH: Yeah, you could play a lead, and people have done that, taken a saxophone part and played it on guitar. Yeah, and I love that you just said that. I’ve heard it a few different times throughout where the sax player wasn’t there and somebody took it and played it on guitar. It’s a great way to look at it. Yeah.
24:53 DS: Definitely can swap those out and it brings another level of… To me, the horns are so much a part of this album, and we’ll talk about a little bit more. You hear it on the Can’t You Hear Me Knocking and all that kind of stuff. Back to the lyrics on this, so Keith Richards in his book has said that that whole scarred old slaver knows he’s doing all right. And he said that he thinks that somebody at the publishing company came up with that because he thinks Mick Jagger was actually singing sky dog slaver because sky dog was a nickname for… Do you know who?
25:31 TH: I think it’s Duane Allman.
25:33 DS: It is, it’s Duane Allman.
25:34 TH: Yeah, Duane Allman. Yeah.
25:35 DS: At the time, a regular at the Muscle Shoals Studios.
25:40 TH: Nice, nice.
25:40 DS: And he was stoned all the time. So they called him Sky Dog.
25:46 TH: Wow. See, this is truly inside the album, right? That, who would ever think of somebody’s nickname. And you know, the way Mick spoke, who knows what somebody heard from really what he said.
26:00 DS: Yeah, another interesting fact about Brown Sugar is there is a second version of this song that was cut with Eric Clapton on guitar.
26:08 TH: There you go.
26:08 DS: And also Al Kooper on keyboards, who is a guy who was around at that time a lot with The Beatles, and I think with the Stones as well.
26:17 TH: Al Kooper played with a lot of people, Blood Sweat and Tears, yeah. Al Kooper was one of those guys that everybody loved to have around ’cause he was a major talent.
26:26 DS: So the… Some of the guys, I think it was Keith who said this, but he said the Eric Clapton take was great, but it wasn’t the Stones, because it was Eric just going off, which was great, but it didn’t really fit into what the Stones were. They weren’t really as much of a soloist. There’s not a lot of… There’s a couple of guitar solos in the Stones, of course, but not too many.
26:49 TH: Well, as you just mentioned, literally, it was probably too good.
26:54 DS: Yeah, yeah. Completely… I think it was really good. It was released in 2015 as a… When they did expanded release for Sticky Fingers, so it is out there and you can hear it.
27:04 TH: Oh, that’s great.
27:06 DS: But they considered it for release but they ended up going with the band’s original version. So let’s talk about Wild Horses. Great song, acoustic, third song on the album. One of the things, again, when we get back to what makes the sound of this album and you hear that guitar, it’s so pretty and full and thick, and that comes from Keith Richards again with the open tunings, but he did this one on a 12-string guitar. So on a 12-string guitar, you got your main strings that are same sizes like a normal six-string guitar, and then you have another string right next to it which is very, very thin, it’s a much higher sounding… So with guitar strings, the fatter the string is, the lower the bass sound is. When you get up those higher strings, they’re very thin and tiny, but they sound trebling, more of a higher pitch.
28:04 DS: So when you combine those two together on a 12-string, you get some interesting resonation that happens between the strings, you get harmonics and things like that you don’t get with just six strings. What Keith did is downtuned it or open tuned it, which it further like loosens up the strings a little bit more and makes them a little deeper, but it creates a whole different set of harmonics and resonations that happen with those… With the guitar. The other thing was that he used a slide on it at points in there, and you get this kind of octave effect where you hear the same note, but it’s here, and it’s also up here, so it’s the same note but it’s much higher. So all of that kinda goes into that… I wanna say it’s a warm, wide sound on this record.
28:55 TH: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You know, when you think about it, I wrote down… I was gonna say to you, my thing about this song, and the thing about the Stones, you know, I love to look at this… I just wrote down, simple rock and roll, but the harmonies of the Keith and Mick, just a perfect, perfect fit. They couldn’t have asked for two better voices to sing harmony with.
29:20 DS: Yeah.
29:20 TH: And it really shows. It really shows.
29:22 DS: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. You definitely hear it.
29:25 TH: Oh, yeah.
29:26 DS: So another interesting thing about Wild Horses is that the Stones were not the first people to release that song.
29:34 TH: Oh.
29:35 DS: It was actually recorded by The Flying Burrito Brothers, who was Gram Parson back in the day, and they actually released a version in 1970. The Stones wrote it in ’69, but Sticky Fingers didn’t come out till ’71, so Gram Parsons was a friend of Keith and they often hung out and jammed, they influenced each other to a degree. And so, Keith just gave this song to them and let them record a different version of it, which is not… I don’t think it’s very well-known, I personally have not heard it, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard it.
30:15 TH: No, I haven’t. No. That’s funny you just brought up Gram Parsons, and I was like my ears perked up, I was like, “Wow.”
30:21 DS: Yeah. It’s interesting, because Gram Parsons I think is one of those people that you hear so many people talk about as an influence, but a lot of people I feel like don’t know his music as well as some of the bigger stars.
30:38 TH: You know, there were so many background people back in the day who might’ve put out an album or two or just some cuts that were hits. And even on this album as we go further, we’ll recognize a few other people, I’m sure you’re gonna touch a little bit on Billy Preston, who I was always a big fan of. He was on this album. Billy Preston was one of those guys that… Yeah. He had a couple of hits, but everybody loved to bring Billy Preston in to play on their album back in the day, right?
31:02 DS: Oh, yeah.
31:06 TH: Let’s face it. He played on the rooftop with The Beatles, so…
31:09 DS: Yeah, yeah. Billy Preston brought the funk. He was… He really did, he funked up The Beatles.
31:15 DS: The Beatles were the whitest… The Beatles are the whitest band of all time, okay?
31:20 TH: Thank you, Billy.
31:20 DS: There’s no funk in The Beatles.
31:22 TH: You know, it’s funny, I gotta show you sometime, we’re having this conversation right now, but I wanna show you. It was during the concert for Bangladesh, and Billy Preston was playing That’s the Way God Planned It, right? And I know I go off on these stories, but it’s amazing, because Billy is dancing, right? He’s got the Garden going crazy. He’s on the stage, he walked away from the piano, and you could see George Harrison’s feet moving, like he’s just moving his feet like… ‘Cause he had to be like with Billy, and it was so funny to watch, like they were so white, but yet Billy had them all going. And George Harrison, I know he was…
31:57 DS: Oh, yeah. How could you not. One of my favorite types of music is funk music. I just… That always gets me up and going, and I think Billy Preston had a bit of Stevie Wonder to him in the way he played.
32:17 TH: Yeah. Yeah.
32:17 DS: It was always that really upbeat boom, boom, boom, boom.
32:21 TH: Yeah. I got it right with you. I just felt it the same way.
32:21 DS: That kinda like that Superstition vibe, right?
32:24 TH: Yeah, that boom, boom, boom, boom. Yeah. Right? And everybody felt… He could play it in, you play in the fill and it takes over, yeah.
32:31 DS: So when you throw that in with the horns and the blues riffs, it’s such a great combination. Even though those things… You wouldn’t necessarily go, “Oh, let’s put all these three things together.” When you do, it’s… It all comes together and just drives that music where you just can’t not tap your foot.
32:51 TH: This is truly… And that’s why we’re doing it. Overall, this is truly a magical album. When you think about it, the Stones were rock and roll, and Wild Horses is truly, I would have to say, their first ballad that they put out where they actually sang a ballad and really gave thought to doing a ballad. So this is where Wild Horses came in and changed them a little bit as a band, they started to do some ballads. And then the ’80s took over and everything was a ballad.
33:23 DS: Yeah, there you go.
33:26 DS: So let’s talk about Can’t You Hear Me Knocking. Which again, this was my…
33:29 TH: Please, please.
33:31 DS: So when this album came out I was a youngster, only seven years old, I was not into it at its birth. But for me as a person who plays a little guitar, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking is “the” song on this album.
33:49 TH: The riff in Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, it’s just scorching, is the word I’d use.
33:55 DS: It’s just mind blowing, right?
33:58 TH: Mind blowing. I gotta be honest with you, I played it at least five times this week, in my headset, just sitting in my house, at least, just to truly, truly… I couldn’t stop listening to it, and I mean that. That’s how good that song is, and the thing we wanna say to everybody listening, get the album out or download it, whatever you gotta do, listen to this album. You’ll understand why we’re talking about it today. Truly one of the most powerful albums ever in my world, I have to tell you.
34:25 DS: Yeah, for sure.
34:27 TH: Keith Richards, he’s a basic… I wouldn’t say simple, it’s not enough to say simple, but he keeps everything simple. He literally said, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, he said it was one of the easiest songs he ever wrote, and meanwhile, one of the greatest songs you’ll ever listen to. Which goes to show you something about the balance, of sometimes you just gotta do it. And that’s what I like about the Stones. They got together and they just said, “Let’s do this.” And they did it. Yeah.
34:54 DS: Well, and they wrote a little bit differently, so you would hear the stories about the Beatles, and they would come to the studio and John’s got these five songs, Paul’s got these five songs, George has got these songs. The Stones, for the most part, wrote together a lot. They worked off of each other, but when you have that talent and those riffs just come out of you like that, that’s a gift from a god, that’s nothing you can learn or practice to get to.
35:23 TH: When you have the team, and your guys enjoy playing with each other, and somebody throws a riff out and you take it and run with it, or you throw a lyric to it, I would have to say that’s the fun part of rock and roll. Where it’s true, down in the gutter rock and roll, is that it’s just guys getting together with instruments and first starting out as a jam. There are some bands that have gone in… And we were talking about it on the last session, that Sabbath recorded in one take.
35:54 DS: Right.
35:55 TH: In the studio playing, not like overdubs and bringing in. The band played, they recorded it. Dude, how great is that?
36:04 DS: Yeah, that’s amazing.
36:05 TH: That’s the music I wanna hear, that’s what I wanna hear. Yeah.
36:08 DS: So, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, it’s a long song. It’s seven minutes and 14 or 16 seconds, but the interesting thing about it is Mick Jagger’s done by two minutes and 45. After that it just becomes the riff. And Mick Taylor says that he was ready, everybody started putting their instruments down, but he kept going, and so they all jumped back in and they kept going. And you get this long five minute, or almost five-minute, jam session, which to me sounds a lot like Santana. Do you get that at all on that? ‘Cause you got the horns going, it’s a very kind of… It’s got a little bit of a Latin feel to it, I think.
36:54 TH: Fascinating you’re talking about this. Jagger disappears a little over two minutes, the riff…
37:01 TH: Disappears after four minutes. So the song was literally done. Jagger was done, they were done jamming with the riff, and there’s another three minutes of them just playing these sounds, and they kept it in.
37:19 DS: Yeah. Oh, it’s amazing.
37:20 TH: If we’re gonna talk… Yeah, it’s amazing, and I realized that Jagger was gone, and then they just jammed and they played it at the end, and it was just amazing, really, what it did. But I wanted to say this, one thing about this album that we can bring up, in today’s world you would never dream, ever dream of cutting a seven-minute song. Right?
37:42 DS: Yeah. Unless you’re Neil Young, he still does some long songs. He’s got 12-minute songs coming out still.
37:48 TH: Does he? [laughter]
37:49 DS: It’s crazy. Yeah, it’s nuts.
37:50 TH: Well, there you go, there’s a good point. And you know what? I promise everybody listening in, we’ll certainly… We can tap into some great albums of Neil Young as well. That last three minutes, three and a half minutes, Keith Richards and Mick Taylor always talked about it. And this is what we were saying earlier, it actually happened by accident, which is great. There was no meaning behind it.
38:14 DS: Right. It’s just the flow, the vibe. Again, we’re back to the Sabbath and nailing that stuff, and recording it so quickly.
38:24 TH: Ah, it’s the best.
38:25 DS: There’s another missed lyric story. So again, they got a little bit looser. I think they were a little bit more organized, but I think as you got into this point, with this end of the ’60s, beginning of the ’70s, there was a lot of drugs going around and the Stones loosened up a little bit. And they didn’t have anybody writing down the lyrics while they were recording, so what they did was they had their security, their tour security guy listen to the record just to transcribe the lyrics. And then Mick would go, take the transcription and try to fill in the gaps, and there was one line where they wrote down, “Yeah, I’ve got flattered feet now.” It’s like that, “Yeah, she’s got cocaine eyes.” And one of the lines they wrote down was, “Yeah, I’ve got flattered feet.” Mick swore that he’d never ever said that.
39:15 DS: But they just left it, because nobody can remember what the real lyrics were.
39:20 TH: There’s nothing better than how this all came together. It’s a masterpiece. So I don’t care what they did and how they did. Truly, we’re talking today about a masterpiece of music, we really are.
39:34 DS: Yeah. So, let’s talk a little bit about Sway. Again, this is… They did three songs at the studio in Alabama, then they went to… I guess they went to Mick’s house next and then they finished it up in London, but Sway was the first song they recorded when they got to London, at Mick’s house, actually. And so again, this is in that studio that they were… Led Zeppelin used it to record a bunch of their albums. The thing I love about this song and Sway, it’s probably one of the lesser known songs on the album, it’s still a popular song, I think, among Stones fans, but I just love that riff. To me, it’s a great riff and the song, it just has a special place in my heart.
40:23 TH: Well, that’s what I was saying earlier about the whole album. These songs that you’re doing here are so, so good, Sway being one of them. Just these… It’s not like somebody says, “Oh, you gotta get this album ’cause Sway is on it,” but you really might wanna get this album because Sway is on it. [chuckle]
40:42 DS: Yeah, exactly.
40:43 TH: It didn’t make the cut of the what’s so-called great songs, but once again, just tremendous, everything about it, but it got overpowered by some truly, truly iconic music.
40:54 DS: Well, that’s okay.
40:56 TH: And here we go again, I’m gonna use the word iconic again, man.
40:58 DS: Right, for this five… So there’s five legendary songs on this, I mean, legendary songs, great all-time rock and roll songs on this album. And so when you’re competing with that, the other songs seem a little less important, even though I think they’re not. But Keith wasn’t even there when they recorded this song, so Sway was totally Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger.
41:18 TH: Yeah.
41:20 DS: And so it’s a little bit of a different feel, but not that much. The other interesting thing was that they had some famous backup singers on this, so they had Pete Townshend from The Who, they had Billy Nichols and also Ronnie Lane from Small Faces. They all sang background vocals on Sway.
41:43 TH: Ronnie Lane. Wow.
41:46 DS: Yeah.
41:46 TH: Yeah, that is a blast from the past.
41:50 DS: Yeah, exactly.
41:50 TH: Another guy who played on many, many people’s albums back in the day, and a great friend of Clapton’s.
41:56 DS: Sure, and all these guys, they were all friends and they all knew each other, and from The Small Faces where they got Ron Wood. So, when they go out and replace somebody, they’re going back to the people they know and the people they’re friends with, which happens with most bands, I think.
42:12 TH: I’m gonna throw in a rock and roll story, being that we talked about Ronnie Lane, and do with it what you must, but [chuckle] I sort of think… I saw a show called the ARMS Tour. And it was because Ronnie Lane got sick and Clapton brought out everybody and everybody under the sun, you could see how much they loved this guy, came out to support him. One of the greatest shows I ever saw in my life. The Stones were there, Jimmy Page, Joe Cocker. So it was just like the greatest thing in the world. So these guys were more than just musicians, you gotta understand. Back in the day, this is where you hung out, this is who your friends were. When we were out possibly growing up, playing wiffle ball, basketball, whatever we were doing, these guys grew up in the music world together.
42:55 DS: Yeah.
42:56 TH: And Mick Taylor, he came from John Mayall. I was just thinking about that.
43:01 DS: Oh, okay, I didn’t know that.
43:02 TH: Well, a lot of these guys all met through John Mayall. He was like the super connector, the Blues Breakers. Everybody played some time in their life, Ronnie Wood, Clapton, Jimmy Page, with John Mayall. And I just realized this is where Mick Taylor came… He was introduced to the Stones right when they needed him by John Mayall.
43:24 DS: The other song that Keith was not in the studio for… [chuckle] As you hear the stories from Keith and Mick, Keith says it more than Mick does, but Keith says, I was out of it at the end there. So this is when he was getting into that bad place with drugs. But as we know, nothing kills Keith Richards, and so he’s still here. But they went ahead and also did Moonlight Mile without Keith, so you got two songs on the album and Keith Richards is like, I wasn’t even involved, it was all Mick and Mick.
43:55 TH: I know we’re gonna talk about this and the reason I’m laughing is, I have some points we were gonna make when we were all alone, but I guarantee you on that album it said Jagger, Richards on every song. [chuckle]
44:06 DS: Yeah, I’m sure. I didn’t check the credits, so I’m not 100% sure of that.
44:11 TH: No, I got you, it’s just the fact that we’ll talk about that. I know a little background on that, on everything that goes on with Jagger…
44:18 DS: Well, tell us. That’s unless you’d rather not.
44:21 TH: As we’re talking about, it’s Sister Morphine. So Sister Morphine was written by Marianne Faithfull.
44:29 DS: Huh. That’s interesting.
44:31 TH: Who had recorded it and it went nowhere, but it was her backdrop, it was her telling the story of a friend who went in and had a car accident, needed morphine, and what the morphine meant in her life, and so it was pretty cool, it was written by Marianne Faithfull. But the reason I bring that up is that the Stones took it, and I mean this when I tell you, and made it theirs. So no credits, no nothing to Marianne Faithfull. Mick Jagger was dating her at the time. And if you look at the label, it’s gonna say Jagger, Richards.
45:04 DS: Ah, that’s interesting.
45:06 TH: Yeah. These are the little things that I really got into when I was studying the Stones and going over and thinking about it, what their background was, they… And I’m gonna share this now, I wanted to say it to you earlier, when you think about the Stones and why Mick Taylor didn’t stay very long. Very, very talented guy you’d wanna hold on to, but when you think about the Stones, the Stones truly are Jagger, Richards.
45:33 DS: Oh, yeah.
45:34 TH: And whoever they choose to have around them. They establish that early on, that no matter what, the Rolling Stones were Jagger, Richards.
45:42 DS: And originally it was Brian Jones’ band. So Brian Jones started the band, brought in Mick and Mick brought Keith. And so that’s how it became the band, but once they started writing, Brian Jones, I don’t know if he was the best songwriter, but it really shifted into where Jagger and Richards were pumping out song after song after song, and they kinda took over. And I don’t know that that’s what pushed Brian into so much issue with the drugs, I’m sure he was an addictive person, so it was gonna kinda catch up with him sooner or later, but it might have been one of those factors… You know, you hate to say that that was a cause, but who knows?
46:26 TH: Well, Mick Taylor left in ’74, and basically just felt that if you’re gonna be in the Stones, you’re gonna be a Rolling Stone, you’re not gonna think about writing music that you can take to the world on your own, and it really didn’t come to fruition right until…
46:44 DS: They didn’t do solo albums until the ’80s when they kind of broke up for a little bit, right.
46:54 TH: Mick Taylor had it in his heart a little bit, I think, to literally go out and start doing some stuff on my own, which might not have been the greatest idea in the world, but I hope he’s had a good life.
47:03 DS: Yeah, yeah, I think he’s happy. He played with them too. They had him up on stage, I saw a video on YouTube where they had him come out and play some songs on a show in the recent past, so…
47:15 TH: Awesome.
47:16 DS: Yeah. Alright, let’s talk about Dead Flowers.
47:20 TH: Let’s.
47:22 DS: This to me and I know I said, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking is my favorite song on this album. To me…
47:25 TH: I’m calling you out on that. [chuckle]
47:26 DS: Yeah, Dead Flowers is my second favorite. I just love Dead Flowers. And so, Mick was super into country music and still is. And I think that… And he even said this, that he over-played this country song a little bit.
47:48 TH: Love that.
47:49 DS: You can hear this in his voice where he was over the top with the country. And to me, it sounds very similar to Far Away Eyes, which is on Some Girls a few years later, but both those songs, he’s very kind of tongue in cheek, but not really tongue in cheek. It’s very over the top with his country, country-ness, so to speak.
48:10 TH: Yeah. Do you know what? Talking about this and Dead Flowers, I’m gonna bring up the point that I was thinking about. Mick was like a chameleon. If he was doing a blues tune, he’d become an old black guy.
48:24 DS: That’s true, right?
48:26 TH: If he was doing…
48:27 DS: And you could hear, you can…
48:29 TH: I think he has these older, Mick’s, that I wanna be an old blues guy, and I truly think on Dead Flowers, you can hear it, it was almost like a parody of a redneck, you know.
48:42 DS: A little bit, right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
48:44 TH: Which is great about it, what makes the songs great, he didn’t just sing them as Mick Jagger, I think he develops these characters in his head, and it’s a lot of fun. Waiting On A Friend, songs like that you hear, he steps into these characters that he becomes. So which is what made their songs be so good over all the years, is it’s not… It doesn’t even really sound like a Stones song. You know what I mean?
49:08 DS: Right.
49:09 TH: Dead Flowers.
49:09 DS: Well, he’s not just a great rock musician, he’s a performer, and he’s performing. And you know, you said that about the blues stuff, and when you hear You Gotta Move, which is… It’s an old spiritual song, it was recorded by gospel musicians throughout the ’40s through the ’70s, but when they went ahead and did that, he gets into that whole, “Rumble, rumble, I’m the blues man.” But that song, that song to me, You Gotta Move, it sounds so much like just, it’s a much better produced version of old… Like Robert Johnson and the real old old school blues guys, they’re playing those one note slides. It’s…
49:58 DS: And it’s so true to the original style, really.
50:06 TH: Yeah, yeah, so I love that about it. Everything about it, and like you said, you know, Dead Flowers, another tremendous song that, you wouldn’t even put in the top three, maybe you, I would, but when you go down this album, it’s tough to make the top three on this album.
50:23 DS: Yeah, definitely.
50:23 TH: You know it should be there.
50:25 DS: Oh, yeah.
50:25 TH: If it was on any other album, it would be the greatest song on the album.
50:26 DS: Oh, for sure. The other song that’s really well known and mostly I guess because of the riff is Bitch, so again, classic Stones riff there.
50:44 DS: And yeah, just a great, great piece of music. The thing about this is, it’s not about a specific woman or women in general, he’s not calling women bitches, it’s about the being in love, that’s what he’s talking about. So it’s being in love, is a bitch.
50:57 TH: It’s a bitch. Yeah.
51:00 DS: Yeah.
51:00 TH: Not she’s a bitch. It’s a bitch, love, it’s a bitch. You know what? It’s a bitch, right? It was a phrase we used all the time, “Man, that’s a bitch.” It’s kind of faded a little bit. We used it all the time. “Oh, man. That’s a bitch.” So really just… Again, you’re talking about guitar work, right? Iconic chords, things that stick in your head, you know, just tremendous, tremendous, great, great song. When I’m saying to you, and when we’re listening to this and anybody listening and all our listeners out there, keep in mind, what we’re talking about, play it, you’ll understand what we’re saying, because Charlie crushes it on Bitch.
51:42 DS: Oh, yeah.
51:43 TH: Crazy, crazy. Consistently through…
51:47 DS: And that’s the thing, it’s the consistency. He’s rock solid.
51:52 TH: Rock from start to finish, Charlie Watts is killer. And I got a little bit of a goosebump right now I gotta share with you, because I just love how he goes from start to end. And if you know anything about Charlie Watts, he sits there, not a smile on his face, just playing, but kills it on this song, so first song, play it, you’ll love it.
52:17 DS: Yeah, it’s great. Interesting story about this song. When they first wrote it, it was a little bit sluggish and slow, and then Keith walked in, took a shot at it, sped it up a little bit and just found that groove, which is, this song, it’s all about that groove. And that comes back to Charlie.
52:36 TH: That groove.
52:37 DS: So since Keith is such a rhythmic rhythm guitar player, it really does kind of mesh well with that rock solid drummer, because you can get into that pocket, and Keith can play from behind or ahead or a little bit, but they’re always right there, where the end result is perfect.
52:58 TH: They are so right there. And that’s what we’re talking about, the band, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman. Bill Wyman, wherever he was, he would just hang out and play. And to think we haven’t even mentioned Bill Wyman, the great Bill Wyman, who, literally him and Charlie Watts were the bottom. They were everything. Keith played on top of what Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman put out there. So that’s what I’m saying is so iconic. Can I throw a lyric out to you?
53:25 DS: Yeah.
53:27 TH: That we didn’t touch on, Dead Flowers, and… “I’ll be in my basement room with a needle and a spoon, and another girl to take my pain away.” And what I wanted to say that about the Dead Flowers is what started to happen is their music really started to envelop their lives and they started to tell stories about what was really going on during this album. We mentioned ’69, ’70, the challenges they had, but they were really starting to get progressive at this time, their person… And you think about it, they all pulled it together pretty well throughout the years because they were progressively getting more and more addicted, which is an interesting way to look at it. So Dead Flowers had a lot of meaning and some of the lyrics are in there, like, “Hey, perhaps they were like a cry for help. This is where my life is right now.” So you don’t think about them… But, go ahead.
54:16 DS: And you do see that too, you see that on Exile. That album is deep. I think that’s where they’re in the depths of mayhem, and drugs, and alcohol.
54:29 TH: Yeah.
54:29 DS: So over those couple of years where they’ve got these albums, you hear it in the songs, you hear it in the lyrics, you hear it everywhere.
54:37 TH: Yeah, Keith often said, “My saddest lyrics, they really… Sometimes can be accurate.” Yeah, that’s the thing.
54:47 DS: The most truthful ones, right?
54:48 TH: If you ever listen to an interview with them, the most truthful lyrics, the ones you go like, “Wow,” it was coming from, “This is where I’m at, this is real, this is the truth.” They were damaging themselves and they knew it, but they still put out some of the greatest music throughout. It’s amazing.
55:05 DS: Oh, yeah. Consistently.
55:07 TH: Alright, where do we wanna take it…
55:09 DS: So that’s it. That’s it for Sticky Fingers.
55:11 TH: Oh, nice.
55:12 DS: Any last thoughts?
55:13 TH: Well, I have one. We talked about Sister Morphine, which was great. Moonlight Mile, fantastic, it was a killer, killer song, and all I wanna share on Moonlight Mile, and why it became one of my favorites, is… It literally… We were talking about what they brought in and other players, it’s the only song that they had strings.
55:37 DS: Oh, okay.
55:38 TH: Yeah, they had violins and cellos, they had a string section, and it’s just in the fade at the end. So when you listen to the album, just listen to the fade at the end. They brought in some strings and it’s just absolutely beautiful. So Don, really, Sticky Fingers, man, I’m glad we got to do this. Always good to be with you, but man, oh man, again, I just wanna listen to the album over and over and over. So my only suggestion to do… I said it to my wife, Don, I wanna share this with you. I said, “Just go put this on. Just go on put this on.” [laughter] So I hope everybody enjoyed what we had to say about Sticky Fingers, listen to it, subscribe, hit the button below, wherever it might be. [chuckle] We’d love you to join us along the way.
56:24 DS: Yeah, thank you so much, Tom.
56:26 TH: Don. Real good, man. Thanks.
56:28 DS: Alright. See you next time.
56:29 TH: Alright.