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Goin’ Home by The Rolling Stones
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Spendin’ too much time away/ I can’t stand another day…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: RCA AStudios, Hollywood, USA, Dec. 3-8 1965
Guest musicians: Jack Nitzsche )percussion)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
On one level, “Going Home” was quite an innovation for a rock & roll track when it was released in April 1966. It lasted a good 11 minutes and 35 seconds, which may have been an unprecedented length for a non-live/non-medley rock track, though of course innumerable jazz and classical recordings had gone on for that length and much longer prior to 1966. Some Bob Dylan songs were going well beyond the five-minute mark by the end of 1965, and many bands had improvised beyond the ten-minute barrier in concert, but among top-level rock acts of the ’60s, the Rolling Stones were the first to record a track of such length.
However, in other respects, it was an average, typical Rolling Stones blues-rock song, extended and padded out to nearly 12 minutes with some jamming and improvisation. It’s less exciting than many listeners envision it being when they read about it, actually, though it’s OK.
Starting with a clip-clop rhythm and gradually accelerating in speed, the verses are a basic expression of Mick Jagger pining for his girl and determining to go home and get him some. It’s the bumpety-bump, ascending chorus of announcing his intentions to go home that’s the most “pop” element of the song, though it’s not among the Stones’ catchier choruses.
There’s the sense of the track getting drawn out more for the purposes of adding to its length than to make necessary musical and lyrical points, verging on clumsiness when Jagger muses that if he packed right now, he could be home in seven hours — just do it, buddy, don’t dilly-dally thinking about it! In its defense, though it’s too long, the song does hit a better (and faster) groove in the more improvised final minutes when Jagger fantasizes about how he’ll make love to his girl when he finally gets there, the track starting to chug like a train gathering speed, with some good harmonica work and reverbed guitar.
The performance does, however, kind of peter to a cold end, as if it’s exhausted itself and can’t summon the energy for a rousing conclusion. Arthur Lee of Love later claimed that the Rolling Stones had gotten the idea to do a long blues-rock jam from seeing Love do one on-stage (probably the one that grew into the side-long track “Revelation” on Love’s second album), though it certainly seems possible that both bands might have thought up the idea independently.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
Keith Richards came up with the riff for “Goin’ Home,” and Mick Jagger wrote the words during the Stones’ second US tour, shortly before the band entered the RCA Studios. The lyrics describe a man who has been away from home for far too long. He has just one wish: to hold his love in his arms once again.
The number then develops into a long improvisation. Keith Richards: “It was the first long rock and roll cut. It broke that two-minute barrier. We tried to make singles as long as we could do then because we just like to let things roll on. Dylan was used to building a song for 20 minutes because of the folk thing he came from.… That was another thing. No one sat down to make an 11-minute track. I mean ‘Goin’ Home,’ the song was written just the first two and a half minutes. We just happened to keep the tape rolling, me on guitar, Brian on harp, Bill and Charlie and Mick. If there’s a piano, it’s Stew.”
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