Rolling Stones songs: Criss Cross
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Also known as: CRISS CROSS MAN; SAVE ME
Written by: Jagger/Richard/Taylor
Recorded: Dynamic Sound Studios, Kingston, Jamaica, Nov. 25-Dec. 21 1972; Island Recording Studios, London, June 1973, Mick Jagger’s home studio, Pocé-sur-Cisse, France, Apr. 2020
Guest musicians: Billy Preston (keyboards), Bobby Keys (saxophone), Jim Keltner, Jimmy Miller, Pascal and Rebop (percussion)
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
Announced by the Rolling Stones on Twitter one day prior to its release, “Criss Cross” was launched for the first time on YouTube on July 9, 2020. And, suddenly, the whole planet of Stones fans began to boogie and clap their hands. “Criss Cross” was a previously unheard title—the first since “Living in a Ghost Town” (April 2020), and more importantly, it’s a song that looks back on the glory days of the Stones. “Criss Cross” could only have been written by the Glimmer Twins.
The guitar riff is Keith Richards at his best, while Mick Jagger hits the mark with his sensual little phrases: Lip to lip / Skin to skin / Tongue to tongue / Back to back / Back and front. He also drops in a comment referring to Keith Richards: I think I need a blood transfusion. “Criss Cross” is accompanied by a wonderful video. Made by Diana Kunst (who also made the videos for James Blake’s “Barefoot in the Park” featuring Rosalía, and Madonna’s “Medellín”), it features model Guindilla Ontanaya in various parts of the world, from idyllic beaches to the heart of London and Monument Valley in the United States. The whole video is imbued with an atmosphere of extreme sensuality. A small masterpiece of rock ’n’ roll glamour!
Although the riff and the harmony in “Criss Cross” are typical examples of the Jagger/Richards team, this piece is also notable for the part played by Mick Taylor—his first recording with the Stones since “Ventilator Blues” on the Exile on Main St. album (1972). And his contribution is important, his six-string guitar completing and blending perfectly with Keith’s guitar to give an exceptional performance (contradicting Keith’s assertion that Taylor was only a solo guitarist)
Jagger queried the credits printed on the disc sleeve, suggesting in an interview in 2020 that “Mick Taylor’s playing the bass part and I’m playing the other guitar.” What are we supposed to think? It’s hard to say. Furthermore, he says, “I remember writing it, it was helped along by that whole drive of Billy [Preston]”—on clavinet with a very audible wah-wah pedal. A brass section can be heard in the refrains (e.g., around 2:55), as well as a saxophone (from 3:10). The finale of the piece has a wild coda on timbales, played by Jimmy Miller. “Criss Cross” is a wonderful number. Jagger recognized this later, saying, “I don’t know why we didn’t put it on the album.”
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?
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