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ROLLING STONES SONGS: ‘ANGIE’ (1973)

Rolling Stones songs: Angie
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MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
With no loving in our souls and no money in our coats/ You can’t say we’re satisfied…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Dynamic Sounds Studios, Kingston, Jamaica, Nov. 25-Dec. 21 1972; Island Recording Studios, London, England, June 1973
Guest musicians: Nicky Hopkins (piano)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From Songfacts:
The big rumor about this song is that it was written about David Bowie’s wife, Angela, who wrote in her autobiography that she once walked in on Bowie and Mick Jagger in bed together – a story Jagger denies. According to the rumor, Jagger wrote this song to appease her, but it was Jagger’s bandmate Keith Richards who wrote most of the song. Jagger had this to say about it: “People began to say that song was written about David Bowie’s wife but the truth is that Keith wrote the title. He said, ‘Angie,’ and I think it was to do with his daughter. She’s called Angela. And then I just wrote the rest of it.”

There was also speculation that Richards’ girlfriend Anita Pallenberg inspired this song, but Keith cleared it up in his 2010 autobiography Life, where he wrote: “While I was in the [Vevey drug] clinic (in March-April 1972), Anita was down the road having our daughter, Angela. Once I came out of the usual trauma, I had a guitar with me and I wrote ‘Angie’ in an afternoon, sitting in bed, because I could finally move my fingers and put them in the right place again, and I didn’t feel like I had to s–t the bed or climb the walls or feel manic anymore….

…I just went, ‘Angie, Angie.’ It was not about any particular person; it was a name, like ohhh, Diana. I didn’t know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote ‘Angie.’ In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out.”

A rare ballad for The Stones, this was the first single released from Goat’s Head Soup. It wasn’t typical of their sound, since most of the band’s material at the time was hard and aggressive. Still, it was a huge hit, and their only ballad that hit #1 in the US.

This is one of the few Rolling Stones songs that is acoustic.

Keith Richards wrote this song in Switzerland after the Exile on Main St. album had been approved by the record company, but before it was released. “Angie” was one of the first songs The Stones recorded for Goat’s Head Soup, which they first attempted in Jamaica at the Dynamic Sounds studio in Kingston. They got very little done at these sessions, arriving nightly with armed escort and locking the doors until they were done for the day. Much of the album was done at sessions in Los Angeles and London under more hospitable conditions.

The Angela Bowie rumor picked up steam in 1990, when she went on The Joan Rivers Show and claimed she once walked in on David Bowie and Mick Jagger in bed together naked. What’s even more shocking is that Rivers had her own talk show. She was quickly replaced by Arsenio Hall.

Nicky Hopkins played piano on this track. He became part of the band’s inner circle after working on the 1966 Stones album Between The Buttons.

In 2005 German chancellor Angela Merkel appropriated this acoustic ballad for her Christian Democratic Union Party. “We’re surprised that permission wasn’t requested,” said a Stones spokesman of Merkel’s choice of song. “If it had been, we would have said no.”

The line from this song, “Ain’t it time we said goodbye,” was used as the title to Robert Greenfield’s 2014 book, which chronicles his time covering the Stones’ 1971 British tour and their Exile on Main St. sessions for Rolling Stone magazine. Greenfield is not a fan of the song, however, calling it “soppy and far too sweet for my taste.”

Angela was born in a Catholic hospital, and her name was bestowed upon her by the nuns. “I’m glad she was called Angela, because Anita had adorned her with all these really weird names like Dandelion, which Angela quickly got rid of as soon as she grew up,” Richards told Uncut magazine in 2020. “So she’s Angie now, strangely enough.”

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
In the weeks following the end of recording work on Exile on Main St. at
Nellcôte, Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg left the Côte d’Azur to
escape the French judiciary, which suspected them of narcotics dealing.
After spending time in various places, the couple, along with young
Marlon, ended up in Switzerland, where Anita gave birth to
Dandelion/Angela on April 17, 1972, while the Stones guitarist was in a
clinic in Vevey. This was for a detox cure in the care of a Dr. Denber: “He
was American. He looked Swiss, close shaven and rimless glasses,
Himmleresque.”
It was in this improbable place, but evidently inspired by
the Swiss landscape, that Keith wrote “Angie.”
While the music is by Richards, the lyrics were written by with some
input by him, but mostly by Mick Jagger. To whom are the Glimmer Twins
referring in the song? Mick Jagger has always categorically denied that the
words were addressed to Mary Angela “Angie” Barnett, who had become
Mrs. David Bowie on March 20, 1970. The most logical explanation would
be that they refer to Keith and Anita’s daughter Dandelion/Angela, but
Keith has not confirmed this: “While I was in the clinic, Anita was down
the road having our daughter, Angela. Once I came out of the usual trauma,
I had a guitar with me and I wrote ‘Angie’ in an afternoon, sitting in bed,
because I could finally move my fingers and put them in the right place
again.…” And he continues: “I just went, ‘Angie,’ ‘Angie.’ It was not
about any particular person.… I didn’t know Angela was going to be called
Angela when I wrote ‘Angie.’”
On the other hand, “Angie” may be addressed to one or another of the
Stones’ women—those who had previously belonged, or still did, to the
circle of their intimate acquaintances. Ain’t it good to be alive? Angie,
Angie, they can’t say we never tried
: the last lines of the song could refer to
the suicide attempt and miscarriage of Marianne Faithfull, but equally, the
phrase All the dreams we held so close seemed to all go up in smoke could
relate to the living hell experienced by Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg
as a result of his heroin addiction.
“Angie” is an irresistible ballad. Released as a single on August 20,
1973 (with “Silver Train” as the flip side), the most romantic song in the
Rolling Stones catalog became an international hit. It was number 1 in the
United States, France, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. In the United
Kingdom it only reached number 5, on September 15, 1973

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