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Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Rolling Stones Mobile, Stargroves, Newbury and Olympic Sounds Studios, London, England, March-May 1970
Guest musicians: Bobby Keys (saxophone), Jim Price (trumpet), Billy Preston (organ)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
From the Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
Mick Jagger sings of the despair of a man recalling his time with the woman he loved, who has now abandoned him. Love is a bed full of blues, he sings, and very soon the idea of suicide occurs to him as the only way out: I’ll bust my brains out for you.
Was Jagger thinking of his recent breakup with Marianne Faithfull when he wrote the words to “I Got the Blues”? Perhaps. Alternatively, he may have been merely empathizing, through the song, with all those romantics of a melancholy frame of mind. There is perhaps no better example of the artistic debt the Stones owed the originators of Southern soul than “I Got the Blues.” It inevitably recalls the productions of Stax Records, the subtle, pervasive scent of blues and gospel given off by the recordings of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Sam and Dave. Billy Preston’s organ plays a key role in this, as do the horns of Bobby Keys and Jim Price.
“I Got the Blues” is launched by Keith Richards with arpeggios played on a clear-toned guitar with ample reverb. He is immediately joined by Mick Taylor, also playing arpeggios, but with vibrato from the amp. The sound recalls that of Steve Cropper, and the listener expects to hear Otis Redding break into song when the horns strike up. But of course the voice that comes in is that of Mick Jagger, whom Bobby Keys claims wanted to integrate horns more and more into the Stones sound.
And it is precisely by adopting a typical Stax configuration that Keys and his partner Jim Price approach the track. “Mick was very much into Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett and the Memphis Horns. And here he had his own Texas Horns. I remember telling him, ‘Hey, man, we’re the Longhorns!’” “I Got the Blues” calls to mind Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” with certain harmonies strangely reminiscent of “Out of Time.” Charlie Watts seems ill at ease with the rhythm and does not deliver one of his best drum parts. Bill Wyman nevertheless accompanies him very well on his Dallas Tuxedo. The same goes for Billy Preston, who single-handedly raises the number to a new level with his highly inspired solo, with soul and gospel vibes, on the Hammond organ.
Categories: Can You Hear the Music?