Behind The Rolling Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’

English rock band The Rolling Stones at one point consisted of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, and Ian Stewart. Their first self-titled album was released in early 1964, kicking off their lengthy career of ‘rock dome.’ They were signed with the same management as The Beatles once were, to manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who took them far. Thanks to the Stones, we have some great hits like “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”, “Gimme Shelter,” “Paint it, Black”, and “Wild Horses.”

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Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” for their “Let it Bleed” album that was released in 1969. In 2004, the song has been named, according to Rolling Stone magazine, as the 100th greatest song of all time. So, What is ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ really about?

Rolling Stones’ Epic ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ Debut in 1968

Mick Jagger spoke on the song saying “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was something I just played on the acoustic guitar—one of those bedroom songs. It proved to be quite difficult to record because Charlie couldn’t play the groove and so Jimmy Miller had to play the drums. I’d also had this idea of having a choir, probably a gospel choir, on the track, but there wasn’t one around at that point. Jack Nitzsche, or somebody, said that we could get the London Bach Choir and we said, “That will be a laugh’.”

Multiple versions of the iconic song were recorded, one around five minutes, and the other nearly eight. It was the first song recorded for the “Let It Bleed” album, which also includes “Midnight Rambler”, “Gimme Shelter” and “Live With Me”. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was recorded at London’s Olympic Sound Studios. The song features Al Kooper on keys and the french horn intro, and many of the rhythm instruments were played by Rocky Dijon.

Lyrically the song was topical, speaking on some heavy moments happening at the time ranging from drugs and some politics in the song’s three verses. The song title was said to be a phrase said to Mick Jagger by Jimmy Hutmaker (Mr. Jimmy) in a chance meeting in a drug store. There are some differing opinions on the birth of the song, however. One of the writers for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus documentary said that Mr. Jimmy was referring to the Stones producer, Jimmy Miller. Take a peek into the lyrics:

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she would meet her connection
At her feet was her footloose man

And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration
If we don’t we’re gonna blow a fifty-amp fuse”

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”
I said to him

I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well, I could tell by her blood-stained hands

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” Vs. “Hey Jude”

To some, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is the Roling Stones counterpart to The Beatles hit “Hey Jude.” That’s an observation based on John Lennon of The Beatles, saying that the Stones would copy The Beatles. Jagger himself even once stated, agger said in 1969, “I liked the way the Beatles did that with ‘Hey Jude’. The orchestra was not just to cover everything up—it was something extra. We may do something like that on the next album.” The song was released originally as a B-side to the “Honky Tonk Women” in the summer of 1969. When it was re-released four years later, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” hit number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100. It became one of the band’s most popular songs.

The song has been included on “Hot Rocks”, “Rolled Gold: The Very Best of the Rolling Stones, and various live recordings including “Havana Moon”, “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus”, “Love You Live, and “Flashpoint”. No doubt, one of everyone’s favorite parts of every show is when the Stones’ shows, a crowd favorite moment is when Mick Jagger asks “What’s your favorite flavor?” and the crowd responds with a rowdy “Cherry Red!!” Classic. The Rolling Stones will forever be hailed as one of the greatest of all time. The band decided to surprise their fans during the COVID-19 pandemic and got together to produce a coveted four-part acoustic living room harmony. They performed on the ‘One World: Together at Home’ spacial, grooving together to entertain their fans.

Watch: The Story Behind Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ and Their Connection With The Beatles

What do you think?

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