I hesitated to do a Rolling Stones dozen because their catalogue is the richest and deepest of any rock artist I’ve considered. I decided to be daring, in my way, and go for it.
The first Stones album I remember hearing was Beggar’s Banquet. It was a gift from a family friend who was the first bona fide hippie I’d ever met. He dismissed Satisfaction and told me that Beggar’s Banquet was the real shit, man. He said man a lot, man. He also claimed to have dropped acid with Brian Jones, man. Even then I was a skeptic and doubted the story, man. It was, however, a good one. Man, oh man.
I was lucky enough to see the Stones at Winterland in San Francisco on the Exile On Main Street tour. My mom stood in line at a ticket outlet at a nearby Sears store. She spotted a different family friend and bribed him with money and a promise of a roast leg of lamb dinner if he bought a ticket for me. She was a realtor and the best closer in the Bay Area. Resistance was futile, especially with lamb at stake.
I alluded to a rocky patch the Stones had in the mid-1980’s the other day. They got past it and endured. Blues musicians such as Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters were their role models. Those gentlemen endured as did the Stones.
I wrote a lot about sibling rivalry in The Kinks dozen last week, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are de facto brothers who managed to handle their differences over the years. It helps when one of the partners is as logical as Mick Jagger. I’m a typical Stones fan: I respect Mick but love Keith.
I’ve made my share of Keith as survivor/human cockroach jokes over the years. In the early 1980’s some friends and I drew up a list of the rockers most likely to die soon. Keith was at the top of the list. He’s still with us.
Here’s my favorite Keef meme:
Unfortunately, the great Charlie Watts was mortal. I still miss the man with the small drum kit that made a huge sound. He was the rock of the greatest rock and roll band in the world.
The Rolling Stones are survivors. Bill Wyman retired. They moved on. OG leader Brian Jones quit the band, then died. His successor Mick Taylor quit the band. They moved on to the second most lovable Rolling Stone, Ron Wood. I’m old enough to remember the transition from Taylor to Woody. I was a fan of the Small Faces and Faces and knew the Stones had gotten their man.
The Stones have recorded well over a hundred first rate songs. That makes the winnowing tough. I started off with 32 tunes and landed on 12. This is NOT a best of list. I mostly skip the big radio hits and concert war horses. My goal in this feature is to mine some nuggets among their lesser known songs. If I were writing a best of list, it would look quite different. I have a confession: I don’t like Satisfaction. There, I said it.
As always, the list is in chronological order and reflects my personal taste. The dozens are about making difficult choices for no particular reason.
I’m doing something different this time. I’ve seen the Stones live many times and consider them one of the greatest live acts ever. That’s why all but one of the dozen are live versions. There’s a lot of great live Rolling Stones on the YouTube and I took full advantage of it.
The first time I heard Get Off Of My Cloud on the radio, the lyrics made me laugh and the music made me rock. It’s the quintessential early Stones song.
She’s A Rainbow is the best song on one of the Stones worst albums, Their Satanic Majesties Request. They were not cut out to be a psychedelic bank. Besides, that was a passing fancy whereas the Stones brand of blues-infused rock and roll stood the test of time.
Jigsaw Puzzle is and has always been my favorite Rolling Stones song. There’s just something about the sound and the lyrics that grabs me every time.
The frozen image on the video for Stray Cat Blues is strange. It looks as if Mick is wearing a wedding dress. He was not, it’s a puffy shirt. The Hyde Park show was their first without Brian Jones and with Mick Taylor.
I said earlier that I try to avoid concert war horses in this feature. There’s an exception to every rule.
I love Sticky Fingers. I wouldn’t let my friends touch the original album because I feared they’d break the zipper. Sway is my idiosyncratic choice from that great record.
Rocks Off is one of the best album openers in rock history. It rocks live as well.
Hand Of Fate is the She’s A Rainbow of the 1970s. It’s the best song on a bad album, Black and Blue. I was pleasantly surprised to find a live version of this nugget online. I’ve seen the Stones 10 times and never saw them perform it. Parisians have all the luck.
I’ve used Shattered countless times in my blogging life. This line “to live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough” applies to New Orleans both post-K and today. She-doo-bee.
The Rolling Stones rarely did overtly political songs. Undercover Of The Night is an exception to that rule. It’s pretty exceptional even if the album laid an egg commercially by Rolling Stones standards,
What’s a Stones list without a song with rocking in the title? Hey, Hey, You Got Me Rocking.
David Chase made Keith’s Thru and Thru the centerpiece of The Sopranos season-2 finale. Speaking of finales, it’s the last number of the Rolling Stones Dozen.
Don’t worry there’s always lagniappe on the Sunday Dozen menu. This time, some of my favorite cover versions by the Stones; live, of course.
We started the post with an image of the young Rolling Stones. A more recent shot gets the last word.