anna deavere smith, let me down easy
what i watched last week

music friday: the rolling stones

As a companion piece to my post from earlier this week, some Stones videos.

First they cover Chuck Berry, from the legendary 1964 TAMI show:

When they covered “Down the Road Apiece,” they were working off another Chuck Berry track. But in this case, the song dated back to 1940. There were many versions before Berry got ahold of it … in 1946 alone, Glenn Miller’s band and Amos Milburn laid down tracks.

In 1968, the Stones covered a fairly obscure bluesman, Robert Wilkins, with “Prodigal Son.” Jagger’s imitation of an old blues guy is exemplary.

“Stray Cat Blues” is from the same year. The lyrics offer an over-the-top Mick Is After Your Daughter scenario. The age of the daughter changed over time. They were still playing it in the 21st century, by which time the girl had made it all the way to 16 years old. Of course, by the time this version was recorded, Mick was 59.

“Tumbling Dice” comes from the last album of the classic Stones era, Exile on Main St. It’s in the great tradition of songs where you can’t understand a word Mick is singing but it doesn’t matter (Linda Ronstadt’s version was more clearly enunciated). This video is from the film Ladies and Gentleman: The Rolling Stones. This movie was put together after the Stones objected to another film they had commissioned about the same tour, Cocksucker Blues. The Stones have kept that one buried ever since (it can only be shown in the presence of director Robert Frank, although I have a copy, if you want to come over some time and be bored).

I was going to close with one last Chuck Berry cover, but why not let the master play this one himself. “You Can’t Catch Me”.

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