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ROLLING STONES SONGS: ‘ALL ABOUT YOU’ (1980)

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Rolling Stones songs: All About You
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MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT

Though the lies might be true/ That’s just ’cause the joke’s about you…

Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas, Jan. 18-Feb. 12 1979
Guest musicians: Bobby Keys (sax)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From Songfacts:
In a radio interview around 1981, Keith Richards said he wrote this song for his Dalmatian dog (female). Most people assumed he wrote it about Anita Pallenberg, the mother of his two kids. He ended his tumultuous relationship with her after a 17-year-old boy shot himself on their bed.

For those wondering about a source for the Dalmatian story, the book Old gods almost dead: the 40-year odyssey of the Rolling Stones does cite a Keith Richards interview where Keith did say that the song is about his “constantly farting Dalmatian.” However, lyrics like “Tell me those lies, let me think they’re true” and “So how come I’m still in love with you?” cast some doubt on this claim. There was a great deal of controversy about the song and Anita Pallenberg’s feelings in the matter, so Keith might have been trying to save face at this point.

There was a lot more to Anita Pallenberg than just a dead 17-year-old; Pallenberg was already an actress and model before she met Keith Richards. She was even part of Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York, which sets the stage for scandalous behavior right there. Furthermore, she apparently dated Stones’ guitarist Brian Jones prior to Richards, and in Richards’ biography Life, he says that she also had a fling with Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger. But the consensus is that she had a good role as a Rolling Stones partner, like a more benevolent Yoko Ono (another ex-Warhol affiliate). Let’s just say that with all the cross-accusations and denials plus multiple books making different claims, we may never get to the bottom of Pallenberg’s relationship with Richards or the band.

And as to her estate groundskeeper (Scott Cantrell, the aforementioned 17-year-old), with whom she was also allegedly having an affair, here’s an AOL News item as recent as 2010 which still doesn’t give us any definitive answers. His death was ruled a flat suicide in 1980; Richards still rehashes the old Russian Roulette rumor anyway. Lots of mean things said back and forth in this story.

Mick Jagger usually writes The Stones lyrics, but Richards wrote all of these. Keith said that he almost pulled the song from the album because he was concerned that the tune might not be entirely original.

At the time of the recording of Emotional Rescue, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were fighting a lot. Some interpreted this song as a dig by Richards at Jagger. Speaking to Mojo in 2019 he chuckled at the memory.

“It was a song of love, discarded love,” he said. “I never really thought about it in terms of how it was going to be interpreted – ‘oh, that’s obviously him writing about him!’ I’m just writing another film noir love song… I know that when I was singing All About You I was certainly not thinking about Mick. But relationships in the band being the way they were at the time, these feelings are transferable. And once it was pointed out to me, I said, ‘Yeah! Maybe I do mean that!’ We are not in control of our unconscious.”

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“All About You” is a song written exclusively by Keith Richards during the
period when he was starting to come off heroin: “There’s never one thing a
song’s about, but in this case if it was about anything, it was probably more
about Mick.” If the show must go on, let it go on without you/So sick and
tired hanging around with jerks like you
. The words are clearly hurtful.
Keith apparently had the bitter impression that Mick had taken advantage of
his difficulties to keep “me from interfering in day-to-day business.” Now
the Stones guitarist was back and had to be taken into consideration again.
But Mick Jagger is not the only person targeted in “All About You.” The
song also tackles the relationship between Keith and Anita, which was on
its last legs. You’re the first to get blamed, always the last bitch to get paid:
here too, Richards does not beat around the bush. He is probably alluding to
the death of Scott Cantrell, with whom Anita was said to have been having
an affair

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