Destination Jam: Our Top 5 Rolling Stones songs that prove why Mick Jagger is the ultimate rock icon
Mick Jagger is an icon, known just as much for his music as he is for his several decades worth of affairs and flings. But while the latter can sometimes overshadow the former, it's hard to deny that Jagger has carved out a massive spot for himself in the history of rock n' roll. His contributions, along with that of his Rolling Stones bandmates, have helped shape the industry and have inspired countless artistes over the decades.
In honor of the legend's 77th birthday, here are five Stones tracks he co-wrote that truly speak to his abilities as a musician, singer, and songwriter.
'(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'
Keith Richards crafted 'Satisfaction', arguably one of the greatest tracks of all time entirely in his sleep, only realizing he'd recorded it after he woke up much later. Jagger then penned the lyrics to the tune while he was sitting by a pool, four days before they went in to record it. And that truly is one of the most on-brand stories when it comes to the Rolling Stones, demonstrating their musical prowess and genius that seemed to inhabit every part of their life. Such that they could create a song like 'Satisfaction' while simply lounging about and living out their lives.
'Satisfaction' essentially speaks about sexual frustration and commercialism, two things Jagger knew all too well about. The band's follow-up single, 'Get Off of My Cloud', helped seal the Stones' new pop/rock sound as their signature style. Speaking about the latter track, Jagger would state in an interview with Rolling Stone, "It's a stop-bugging-me, post-teenage-alienation song. The grown-up world was a very ordered society in the early '60s, and I was coming out of it. America was even more ordered than anywhere else. I found it was a very restrictive society in thought and behavior and dress."
Where 'Satisfaction' lamented not being able to find comfort in the world, 'Get Off of My Cloud' was the band's way of telling that same world that relentlessly hounded them for a follow-up to, well, get off their cloud.
Off the Stones' 1967 record 'Their Satanic Majesties Request', '2,000 Man' is an interesting track that often gets lost in the sands of time, owing mostly to the Stones' own disliking of the record. The only two tracks the band ever performs from this release are '2000 Light Years from Home' and 'She's a Rainbow'. While the album dropped to negative reviews, it has since earned more positive reactions over time. '2,000 Man' was also covered by KISS on their 1979 album, 'Dynasty', indicating that despite the Stones not being a fan of the track, their fans and colleagues certainly were.
Originally recorded under the working title 'I Want People to Know', this track has its narrator lamenting what life has become in a world riddled with overpopulation and an addiction to the "random computer" that happens to be tearing couples and families apart. While the Stones were alluding to a distant future on this track, their vision has, at least to some degree, come true.
Marianne Faithfull, one of Jagger's many flings, helped pen this track that discusses the realities of drug addiction and the horrifying aftermath of an overdose, things Faithfull knew all too well. After all, it was her drug use -- and not her and Jagger's affairs -- that supposedly ended their relationship. Faithfull released the track as the B-side to her single 'Something Better' in 1969, while the Stones dropped their version as part of their 1971 album, 'Sticky Fingers'.
The Stones' records were often the go-to for anyone that wanted a pick-me-up, their music being just as fun as it was a symbol of rebellion against the 'old ways'. But on tracks like 'Sister Morphine', the group also demonstrated that in addition to the skill of crafting chart-topping hits, they were also quite proficient at tackling some pretty serious issues as well.
'You Can't Always Get What You Want'
This is probably one of, if not the most timeless tracks the Stones ever put out. Released in 1969, the song reminded listeners that life was filled with disappointments but sometimes, you can get exactly what you need. 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' dropped right when the wild '60s were coming to a close and was thus met with an audience that felt like the time of freedom and revolution had passed them by. Many saw the song as being a representation of that era, a snapshot of sorts of the 'best days of their lives'. The song was often paired with another track off the same 'Let It Bleed' album title 'Gimme Shelter', which was directly inspired by the violence of the era and, in particular, the Vietnam War.
While 'Gimme Shelter' was undoubtedly bleak in its outlook, many believed 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' was less about what they were losing and more about hope, reminding people via its infamous lyrics that "You can't always get what you want/ But if you try sometime you find / You get what you need." And in the decades since, the song has become increasingly tied to a sense of hope that no matter how rough things get, there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.
'Beast of Burden'
The phrase 'beast of burden' is used to refer to a domesticated animal that shoulders the burden of labor, generally in service to mankind. The song seemed to have an extremely poignant message hidden within it about how we are all 'beasts of burden' toiling away for somebody else's vision. The track links this experience to love, essentially implying that relationships are hard work and often require one to bear a heavy burden in order to make it work/ But there's an even deeper meaning to this track than that surface message.
'Beast of Burden' was originally penned mostly by Richards with Jagger adding in the verses, mostly via improvisation while the band was recording. Speaking about the track, Jagger stated in the liner notes to the 1993 compilation disc 'Jump Back', "Lyrically, this wasn't particularly heartfelt in a personal way. It's a soul begging song, an attitude song. It was one of those where you get one melodic lick, break it down and work it up; there are two parts here which are basically the same." For Richards, however, this song's simplicity held something more: he had, after all, written the track to thank Jagger for shouldering the burden while Richards took time off to get sober before returning to the studio.
For all his scandals and various ups and downs, Jagger was and remains one of the greatest musicians of all time, capable of writing some stellar tracks with ease as well as helping front one of the best-selling rock bands of the last nearly six decades.
Destination Jam is a daily list of songs that will keep you entertained and grooving up top in lieu of feeling drained and losing the plot. Look out for a fresh selection of great tunes from MEAWW to refresh your mood every day!