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Rolling Stones songs: Laugh, I Nearly Died
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
I’ve been travelling, but I don’t know where/ I’ve been wandering, but I just don’t care…
Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: Studio France, West Indies, Nov- 2004; Henson Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA, March 7-9 & June 6-28 2005
Guest musicians: Darryll Jones (bass)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Laugh, I Nearly Died” was probably written by Mick Jagger during the
recording of the Alfie soundtrack. The end of a love affair has driven the
unfortunate narrator to cast himself adrift on the world. He has wandered
from Rome to Greece, and then to Africa, Arabia (where he has seen a
million stars and been sipping champagne on the boulevards!), and
eventually India (which froze [his] bones). But this diversity of landscapes
and sensations has not enabled him to overcome his solitude or made him
forget the woman he loves. Laugh, laugh, I nearly died: not only is his
journey to these magnificent vistas unforgiving, he continues to be eaten
away by bitterness. Another possible interpretation suggests itself: this
journey around the world could be a quest for the truth rather than for
forgetting, a way for the narrator to attribute some meaning to his
The accompanying music was the fruit of studio work at Mick’s home at
Pocé-sur-Cisse. Overall, the song possesses a gospel vibe.
Charlie launches the track at a reasonably slow tempo (75 bpm). Mick and
Keith then come in on guitar, with Ronnie once again absent. Mick plays a
bluesy sort of rhythm part with a degree of distortion and reasonably
discreet delay. Keith delivers a second rhythm part with a more funky feel,
favoring the higher reaches of the neck and interspersing licks and muted
picking. Darryl Jones’s bass seems to flirt with groove, so low and muffled
is the sound he makes. Charlie, probably taking his cue from a drum
machine preprogrammed by Jagger, gives an impression of metronomic
rigor, thereby reinforcing the somewhat harrowing atmosphere of the song.
With his newfound eagerness to express himself, the Stones singer takes to
the keyboards: pads can be made out, as can an electric piano drenched in a
kind of swirly phasing resembling a Leslie effect. He also takes charge of a
number of percussion instruments, such as the tambourine and the maracas.
It is also Mick who sings the different backing vocal parts, which have a
distinctly gospel flavor. He can be heard singing simultaneously in a lowish
voice and a falsetto. The track has an a cappella ending, with backing
vocals, hand claps, and floor tom. The Stones singer is simply brilliant and
“Laugh, I Nearly Died” is a triumph.
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?