Rolling Stones songs: Good Times Bad Times
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There’s gotta be trust in this world/ Or it won’t get very far/ Well, trust in someone/ Or there’s gonna be war…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Regent Sounds and IBC Studios, London, England, Feb. 25 1964
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
On their second through their fifth British singles in 1963 and 1964, the Rolling Stones used the B-sides to try out some of their early songwriting efforts, tentatively moving toward a blues-rock fusion that really wouldn’t coalesce until 1965. “Good Times, Bad Times” was the B-side of their fourth U.K. single, “It’s All Over Now” (it would also be the B-side of “It’s All Over Now” in the States). While it’s nothing special, it’s a clear improvement over their two previous self-penned B-sides, “Stoned” and “Little By Little.” More importantly, perhaps, it’s really the first original song by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to draw on acoustic American rural blues traditions, rather than the more electrified, R&B-influenced urban variety.
Simply arranged with 12-string acoustic guitar, harmonica, and bass drum, it’s very much a pastiche of Delta country blues, competently done though without much of an identity of its own. Perhaps the most striking part of the number is the opening guitar figure, which runs through a rapid series of chords that don’t stick to the usual 12-bar blues progression, though this promising avenue isn’t pursued over the rest of the song. In truth, the track is a little meandering, though the sincere love the Stones felt for this roots music certainly comes through.
It was valued highly enough to be included on the group’s first American greatest-hits collection, Big Hits: High Tide and Green Grass, though perhaps that was just a way of fattening their royalty coffers. The Rolling Stones’ “Good Times, Bad Times,” incidentally, is completely unrelated to the song of the same name that appears on Led Zeppelin’s first album.
(Ref. good times bad times)
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Good Times, Bad Times” is one of the first songs to be written by Mick
Jagger and Keith Richards—at Andrew Oldham’s urging. In terms of both the lyrics and the music, it was written under the influence of the black American bluesmen. A love affair is made up of good and bad times, sings Jagger, adding that in spite of the hard times… there’s gotta be trust in this world.
This stripped-down ballad, dominated by Keith Richards’s Harmony 1270 12-string, has a strong acoustic blues feel. The use of this instrument works well, with great licks that are reminiscent of Blind Willie McTell and Leadbelly. Keith is accompanied on the harmonica by Brian Jones, who plays with his customary excellence. It is difficult to hear the bass, but this is possibly because Bill Wyman is playing with deliberate understatement. Charlie Watts has chosen to confine himself to the bass drum, but occasionally lacks a certain precision in his placing of the beat (listen from 0:54)
Finally, Mick Jagger delivers the lyrics with a combination of feeling and restraint, and the ample reverb on his voice reinforces the blues side of the ballad. It is a good number, and an homage to the musicians the writers especially admire. “Good Times, Bad Times” figures on various albums, notably 12×5 (October 1964). It is a shame the song has virtually never been covered by other artists.
(Ref. good times bad times)
Categories: Can You Hear the Music?
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