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Rolling Stones songs: If You Really Want To Be My Friend
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
If you really want you to understand me/ I’ll tell you something, that love can’t thrive on jealousy…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany, Jan. 14-28 1974; Rolling Stones Mobile, Stargroves, Newbury, England, Apr. 1974; Island Recording Studios, London, England, May 20-25 1974
Guest musicians: Nicky Hopkins (piano), Billy Preston (organ), Blue Magic (backing vocals)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
One of the slower songs on the album, it is probably about a girlfriend who the singer really loves, but she is interfering with his rock n’ roll lifestyle. Another song with the same message is “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The Stones used several different piano players over the years. This song features Nicky Hopkins, who also played with The Beatles, The Who, The Climax Blues Band, The Kinks, Jefferson Airplane and many others.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“If You Really Want to Be My Friend” opens with the words: If you really
want to be my friend, let me live it up like I used to do, followed a few lines
later by: If you really want to understand a man, let him off the lead
sometimes, set him free. Nothing is working for this couple anymore… the
song’s protagonist has realized that his relationship with his wife or
girlfriend is becoming more and more onerous to him, and he is asking her
to be a little more accommodating. The message sounds like a warning. Is it
addressed implicitly to Bianca?
After “Till the Next Goodbye,” this is the Stones’ second ballad of the
album. This time the vocal group Blue Magic has been brought in to
provide a touch of gospel. It seems that the English musicians had a
genuine fondness for the genre; they had made one of their earliest
incursions into it back in 1968 with “Salt of the Earth” on Beggars Banquet.
Keith Richards opens the song with an augmented fifth chord. To obtain his
rich and colorful swirling sound, he is probably plugged into a Leslie
speaker, although he might be using the Synthi Hi-Fli as he did on “Time
Waits for No One.” It is almost certainly Keith on acoustic too (Gibson
Hummingbird), and a fuzz guitar can be heard at 1:40 and 2:59 that also
bears his signature. Mick Taylor, meanwhile, plays a clear-toned lead, at
least in the intro, before delivering a pretty extraordinary solo at 3:32, this
time with phasing (on his Gibson Les Paul?). Mick Jagger is not always as
comfortable singing ballads as he is in rock or blues numbers, but it has to
be acknowledged that he masters this song with ease and flair, perhaps
inspired by the presence of Blue Magic. Nicky Hopkins, who joins the
others whenever some lyrical piano is required, performs his task with
disconcerting facility, demonstrating the importance of his contribution to
the Stones sound, especially during this period. As for Bill Wyman and
Charlie Watts, their rhythm playing is perfect for this song, the drummer
and bassist providing powerful and yet subtle support that shows why, as a
unit, they were such a key element in the group
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?