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Rolling Stones songs: Biggest Mistake
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But after awhile I stopped to rebel/ I’m back in the past and I’m raising up hell…
Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: Studio France, West Indies, Nov- 2004; Henson Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA, March 7-9 and June 6-28 2005
Guest musicians: Darryll Jones (bass), Chuck Leavell (organ)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This song is about an older man who falls in love with a younger woman, but then leaves her. It could certainly parallel some of Mick Jagger’s relationships, including his affair with model Jerry Hall. In promotional materials for the album, Jagger said: “Of course, you are as vulnerable as anyone else. It’s crazy to think someone can’t be hurt just because he’s famous or he struts across a stage. If you go back through Stones albums, I’m sure you’ll find vulnerability along with the swagger…
…It may not have been as easy to see, though, because it’s not my temperament to share that feeling. I’ve often hid my feelings with humor. This time the songs were written very quickly, and I was in a certain frame of mind. I thought about some of the words afterward to see whether they were too personal, but I decided to just let them stay. Keith was very encouraging… Translating that vulnerability into a song is very cathartic for you. You have to write it down and examine it and decide what you wanted to share. There’s something in the process that helped me get past the hurt it.”
Keith Richards added: “I thought it was about time (Mick) owned up and stepped out of that closed shell. I know he went through bad periods, even if he didn’t want to write about it. I used to wrestle with that too. As a writer, you don’t want to bore people with your own story. But you eventually realize that you’re not the only one who is lonely or having problems.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
Mick Jagger was responsible for both the words and the music of “Biggest
Mistake.” He wrote the song in order to remove a weight from his shoulders
—presumably his final breakup with Jerry Hall—and perhaps also to banish
his demons as an inveterate Don Juan. One thing is for sure: he was feeling
vulnerable. “It’s crazy to think someone can’t be hurt just because he’s
famous or he struts across a stage,” explains Jagger. “If you go back
through Stones albums, I’m sure you’ll find vulnerability along with the
In “Biggest Mistake,” this fragility is expressed through the story of a
love affair between a man of a certain age and a young woman. The story
ends a year later, when the harmony they once enjoyed has dissipated and
the man’s thoughts turn to the past and to rebellion. Ultimately he realizes
that he has made the biggest mistake of his life. The consequences are dire:
the narrator finds himself down in a slump. He’s eating alone, not going
out, and spending his time watching television and drinking on his couch. A
grim state of affairs, then, which is intensified by Mick Jagger’s vocals,
inspired by the great voices of soul, from Solomon Burke to Don Covay.
The third single from A Bigger Bang, “Biggest Mistake” was released on
August 21, 2006, and reached number 51 on the British charts on
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?