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Rolling Stones songs: Miss You
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Shuffling through the street/ Asking people, “What’s the matter with you, boy?”…
Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: EMI Pathé Marconi Studios, Paris, France, Oct. 10-Dec. 1977, Jan. 5-March 2 1978
Guest musicians: Ian McLagan (electric piano), Mel Collins (sax), Sugar Blue (harp)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
The lyrics were seemingly inspired by Mick Jagger’s deteriorating relationship with his wife, Bianca. Jagger has claimed otherwise, saying: “‘Miss You’ is an emotion, it’s not really about a girl. To me, the feeling of longing is what the song is.”
Session musicians included Sugar Blue (James Whiting) on harmonica, Mel Collins on sax and Ian MacLagan on electric piano. Collins had played with King Crimson, MacLagan had been in the band Faces with Stones guitarist Ron Wood. Sugar Blue was from Harlem, but was playing in the Paris metro (their subway) when someone from The Stones record company heard him and brought him to the sessions.
The bassline, horns and drums gave this a disco sound that alienated many of their fans, but also propelled it to the top of the charts. The Stones thought of it as more R&B than disco.
Drummer Charlie Watts explained: “A lot of those songs like ‘Miss You’ were heavily influenced by going to the discos. You can hear it in a lot of those four on the floor rhythms and the Philadelphia-style drumming. Mick and I used to go to discos a lot… It was a great period. I remember being in Munich and coming back from a club with Mick singing one of the Village People songs – ‘Y.M.C.A.’, I think it was – and Keith went mad, but it sounded great on the dance floor.”
This was the first single released from Some Girls. Jagger took a lead role on the album, mainly because Keith Richards had been arrested for drug possession in Toronto the previous year, and it was unclear what his sentence would be. Facing a maximum of life in prison, Keith had other things to worry about besides making an album. After this was released, the Canadian judge sentenced Richards to continue his addiction treatment and play a benefit concert for the blind.
Jagger and Billy Preston came up with the basic track while touring Europe in 1976. Stones bassist Bill Wyman said: “The idea for those bass lines came from Billy Preston. We’d cut a rough demo a year or so earlier after a recording session. I’d already gone home, and Billy picked up my old bass when they started running through that song. He started doing that bit because it seemed to be the style of his left hand. So when we finally came to do the tune, the boys said, Why don’t you work around Billy’s idea? So I listened to it once and heard that basic run and took it from there. It took some changing and polishing, but the basic idea was Billy’s.”
The same day they recorded this track, The Stones came up with the idea for “Start Me Up.”
This is a rare Stones song with a dominant bassline. Many of their songs were driven by the rhythm guitar of Keith Richards.
This was the first song The Stones released as a 12-inch single. It was an extended dance mix that ran 8:36 and was released on pink vinyl. This version is not available on CD.
This was the last of eight #1 hits for The Rolling Stones in America.
When this song hit the charts, some other rockers felt safe entering the disco waters. Most notably Rod Stewart, who went disco with “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” after hearing this song and seeing that The Stones were getting away with it. Stewart’s song was a huge hit, but he faced more of a backlash from rock fans as he seemed to embrace the genre. Rather than shy away from his sexy smash, Stewart embraced it, making the song a staple of his setlists (somewhat ironically) throughout his career.
In the book Playboy Interviews with John Lennon & Yoko Ono (the book version has sections that were edited out of the official interview published in the magazine), Lennon is quoted as saying: “‘Bless You’ is again about Yoko. I think Mick Jagger took ‘Bless You’ and turned it into ‘Miss You’… The engineer kept wanting me to speed that up – he said, ‘This is a hit song if you’d just do it fast.’ He was right. ‘Cause as ‘Miss You’ it turned into a hit. I like Mick’s record better. I have no ill feelings about it. I think it’s a GREAT Stones track, and I really love it. But I do hear that lick in it.”
This plays in the first scene of the first episode of Miami Vice, which ran from 1984-1989 on NBC. It was the first of many famous songs that were used on the series, which was about two undercover cops fighting crime in Miami. That same episode used the Phil Collins song “In The Air Tonight” in a climactic scene, helping give that song considerable cachet in America.
Blues legend Etta James covered this on her 2000 album Matriarch Of The Blues. It was usually the other way around for The Stones, as they covered many Blues songs in their early years.
Van Halen used the bassline on their 1981 song “Push Comes To Shove.”
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards performed this at the 2001 “Concert For New York,” which helped victims of the attacks on The World Trade Center.
In 2002, Dr. Dre re-mixed this for the Austin Powers In: Goldmember soundtrack.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Mick told me that he wrote ‘Miss You’ for me but he probably told lots of girls that,” reveals Jerry Hall, who embarked on a relationship with Jagger in 1977, when his marriage with Bianca was on the rocks. The Jagger of “Miss You” is very different from the one responsible for the misogynistic tirades of the sixties. The protagonist in the song is pining for his loved one,
and various images are used to convey the mental torment of solitude. Musically, “Miss You” is the Stones’ contribution to the tidal wave of disco. “A lot of those songs like ‘Miss You’ on Some Girls, and later ‘Undercover’ and things like that, were heavily influenced by going to the discos. You can hear it in a lot of those ‘four on the floor’ rhythms and the Philadelphia-style drumming,” explains Charlie Watts. Mick Jagger would also acknowledge that the song was in the spirit of the times, and “… that’s what made that record take off.” Released as a single (with “Far Away Eyes” on the flip side), “Miss You” reached number 1 in several countries including one week in the United States (where it remained on the charts for twenty weeks, longer than any of the other Stones songs that had previously entered the Billboard chart), France, and Canada, number 2 in the Netherlands, and number 3 in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Ireland…
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?