Rolling Stones songs: Memory Motel
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She drove a pick-up truck painted green and blue/ The tires were wearing thin, she turned a mile or two…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany, March 31 1975; Casino, Montreux, Switzerland, Oct.-Nov. 1975
Guest musicians: Wayne Perkins (acoustic guitar), Harvey Mandel (electric guitar), Billy Preston (string synthesizer and backing vocals)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
The Memory Motel is in Montauk on Long Island. It’s near The Church Estate, which Andy Warhol bought in 1972. Arthur Schneider, who owned the Memory Motel, told Songfacts that The Stones stayed at Warhol’s estate when they were on tour in 1975-’76. (They were good friends with Warhol, who designed the Sticky Fingers album cover.) Since the Memory Motel was the only place in the area with a pool table and a piano, The Stones would occasionally come by and hang out at the bar. The owners at the time were not impressed – they hated The Stones.
It’s widely speculated that “Hannah Honey” with the curled nose is none other than Carly Simon. Mick Jagger had been romantically linked to Carly around this time, and her physical traits are eerily similar to the song’s descriptions. One theory is that Simon wrote “You’re So Vain” after a one-night-stand with Jagger at The Memory Motel. Simon has never said who that song is about.
Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone magazine, insists the song is about the photographer Annie Leibovitz. “She was covering the Stones at that time and she and Mick were sleeping together,” he told the New York Times.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards duet on vocals. Richards did not play guitar on the track – a rarity.
With Mick Taylor gone, The Stones were auditioning lead guitarists while recording Black And Blue. Harvey Mandel from Canned Heat played lead on this while session man Wayne Perkins played acoustic, but Ron Wood eventually got the job.
Jagger played the acoustic piano, Richards the electric piano, and Billy Preston the synthesizer.
On their live album No Security, Dave Matthews duets with Jagger in place of Richards. Matthews joined The Stones onstage from time to time and also sang this with Jagger on a televised St. Louis concert in 1997.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
It was at Andy Warhol’s house in Montauk, New York, the Stones’
rehearsal venue prior to the 1975 tour, that Mick Jagger started to write
“Memory Motel.” The title refers to a motel in this village located at the
eastern tip of Long Island. He then completed the song during the Tour of
the Americas ’75. Some of the towns on the tour are mentioned in it (Baton
Rouge, San Antonio, Boston.…).
The song’s heroine, with whom the narrator passes a night at the
Memory Motel, is called Hannah. We are told she has hazel eyes and
slightly curved teeth. To whom is Mick Jagger referring here? Some have
suggested the singer Carly Simon, who is said to have had a brief fling with
the Stones singer (and to have targeted him in “You’re So Vain”). Others
lean more toward Annie Leibovitz, because her first name sounds similar,
of course, but most importantly because of her proximity to the Stones, and
Mick Jagger in particular, during the Tour of the Americas ’75, which she
covered for Rolling Stone magazine. For his part, Jagger has the following
to say: “But actually I don’t think that there’s any particular… it’s more
about the tour, really, rather than about the girl.” This song is about a
single night of passion. And the memories that follow…
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