Rolling Stones songs: If You Can’t Rock Me
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
Now I ain’t lookin’ for no pretty face, oh no/ Or for some hooker workin’ roughish trade…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany, Nov. 13-24 1973; Rolling Stones Mobile, Stargroves, Newbury, England, Apr. 1974; Island Recording Studios, London, England, May 20-25 1974
Guest musicians: Billy Preston (piano), Ray Cooper (percussion)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This is the first track on It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, the first album after producer Jimmy Miller left the band. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards did the production instead.
This song finds Mick Jagger singing about being on stage performing for the ladies in the crowd. Is this a stereotypical Stones womanizing song, or what? Notice that other groups did songs about women all the time, but the lyrics here make it like he’s personally pointing out into the audience: “You lovely ladies in your leather and lace, a thousand lips I would love to taste.” He even later calls out to “that black girl in the bright blue hair.” Wouldn’t it be eerie to be in the audience and fit that description on the song’s first stage performance?
This was one of the last Stones songs guitarist Mick Taylor played on.
In fandom (not necessarily only music fandom), there’s an expression called “growing the beard.” That’s when an artist has officially reached middle age / maturity / grace and established themselves as the dignified guru of their genre or form. In other words, they get old, but do so gracefully so that they’re recognized as masters. The opposite of “jumping the shark,” where you get old in the “falling down and needing Depends” sense. Anyway, It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll is widely recognized as the point where The Rolling Stones grew their beard.
Along with this respected status, many critics noted a darker, edgier tone to their songs. It seems hard to fathom now, but the Stones were cutting-edge outrageous back in the ’70s, in the same bad-boy reputation that modern black/death metal or gangsta rap gets.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
The protagonist in this song, apparently Mick Jagger himself, is onstage and
addresses all the women who are looking at him and admiring him, all the
lovely ladies in… leather and lace whose lips he would love to taste. I’m
not so green but I’m feeling so fresh, claims the singer in the refrain,
warning all those who might not be adventurous enough that if they don’t
succeed in giving him pleasure, others will. In parallel with this
“invitation,” he claims that he is no longer interested in some hooker
working roughish trade and that there’s nothing like a perfect mate. Might
this song also be a reflection from Mick Jagger on marriage—which he
seems to be saying is not really his cup of tea—three years after his union
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?