rolling stones it's only rock'n roll but I like it 1974Can You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: It’s Only Rock’N Roll (But I Like It)
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If I could stick a knife in my heart/ Suicide right on stage…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: The Wick, London, Apr. 1974: Rolling Stones Mobile, Newbury and Island Recording Studios, London, England, May 20-25 1974
Guest musicians: Ron Wood (guitar), Willie Weeks (bass), Kenney Jones (drums), Ray Cooper (percussion), David Bowie (backing vocals)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From Songfacts:
A straightforward celebration of rock ‘n’ roll, Faces guitarist Ron Wood, who had not yet joined The Rolling Stones, had a big part in it. Wood lived in a London estate called The Wick, which Pete Townshend later bought. It was there that Wood put the song together at a session with Mick Jagger on vocals, David Bowie singing background, the session player Willie Weeks on bass, and Wood’s Faces bandmate, Kenney Jones, on drums.

When Keith Richards got a hold of the recording, he put his own guitar parts on, but left some of Wood’s 12-string. Jones, Weeks and Bowie remained on the final product.

Mick Jagger explained: “The title has been used a lot by journalists, the phrase has become a big thing. That version that’s on there is the original version, which was recorded half in Ron Wood’s basement, if I remember rightly. It was a demo. It’s a very Chuck Berry song, but it’s got a different feeling to it than a Chuck Berry song. You can’t really do proper imitations of people. You always have to start out by imitating somebody. In painting, some famous artist always starts out by being an impressionist. And then they become the most famous abstract artist. Or an actor starts out by imitating someone else’s style. And then you develop your own…

…And I think that’s what happened with this band and all the musicians that have played in it. You start off with one thing, and then you mutate into another, but you still acknowledge the fact that these influences came from here and here and here. Because not everyone knows that. But you make this new amalgam. And out of all this different music, all out these blues, out of all this country music, out of all this jazz and dance music and reggae music, you know, you make something that’s your own.”
(Ref. it’s only rock’n roll)

This was the title track to the first album after producer Jimmy Miller left the band. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards did the production work.

This marked the first time Ron Wood contributed to a Stones song, although the official songwriting credit went to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, per custom. Wood joined the band in 1975.

Lyrically, this drew inspiration from David Bowie’s 1972 Ziggy Stardust track “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.” When Mick Jagger sings, “If I could stick a knife in my heart, suicide right on stage,” he’s likely referencing glam rockers like Marc Bolan and Alice Cooper who did a suicide bit as part of their stage theatrics.

Mick Jagger sang this with Tina Turner on the Philadelphia stage of Live Aid in 1985. After singing “State Of Shock” with Turner, they launched into “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll” and Jagger started disrobing. Both performers left the stage, and when they came back, Jagger was fully clothes and Turner was wearing a tearaway skirt that Jagger ripped off (Janet Jackson and Justing Timberlake tried something similar when performing at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, resulting in the infamous “Wardrobe Malfunction”). Live Aid was Jagger’s first live performance as a solo artist (Ref. it’s only rock’n roll)

The promotional video (this was before MTV) had The Stones wearing sailor suits in a circus tent that slowly filled with bubbles. The bubbles eventually covered Charlie Watts, who was the only one sitting down.

This has been covered by the Spice Girls, Emmylou Harris, Natalie Imbruglia, The Cranberries and Eurythmics (who released their version as a single in support of a charity called Children’s Promise)

Sibling act Brothers Osborne and the husband-and-wife duo War & Treaty performed this song during the 2022 CMA Awards. It marked the first time the War & Treaty performed at the ceremony, where Brothers Osborne took home the trophy for Vocal Duo of the Year for the fifth time. (Ref. it’s only rock’n roll)

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
In 1973, Ron Wood was not yet a member of the Rolling Stones. He was a friend of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. At this time he was in the process of recording his first solo album in the studio he had installed in his new home, The Wick, on Richmond Hill in southwest London. This debut album under his own name would be given the jokey title I’ve Got My Own
to Do. Its tracks include “Act Together” and “Sure the One You Need,” two numbers generously donated to Wood, who was still the guitarist of the Faces, by the Glimmer Twins, along with “I Can Feel the Fire,” which opens the album. “When I was writing ‘I Can Feel the Fire,’” explains Ron Wood in his autobiography, “Mick gave me a hand on the song. I then helped him out on ‘It’s Only Rock ’N’ Roll.’” Thus the title song of the Rolling Stones’ twelfth (British) studio album saw the light of day in Ron Wood’s studio. The lyrics bear the imprimatur of Mick Jagger. A singer is prepared to go to any lengths to win back his
unfaithful lover: to stick a pen in [his] heart, to break down and cry, and even to commit suicide right on stage. And so what if all this is, in the end, merely rock ’n’ roll? Jagger’s slogan has the virtue of being as clear as it is effective: it’s only rock ’n’ roll, but I like it. A slogan addressed to the music journalists and segments of their audience who were wondering whether the
Stones might be past their prime. “I was getting a bit tired of people having a go, all that, ‘oh, it’s not as good as their last one’ business. The single sleeve had a picture of me with a pen digging into me as if it were a sword. It was a lighthearted, anti-journalistic sort of thing.” “It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll” was released as a single (with “Through the Lonely Nights” as the flip side) on July 26, 1974, three months before the album. It got to third place in the French hit parade in September, but only made numbers 10 and 16, respectively, in the United Kingdom and the United States. (Ref. it’s only rock’n roll)