rolling stones this place is empty 2005Can You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: This Place Is Empty

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Come on, bare your breasts/ And make me feel at home/ You and me we’re just like all the rest/ And we don’t want to be alone…

Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA, June 6-28 2005
Guest musicians: Don Was (piano)

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
“This Place Is Empty” is a love song written by Keith Richards for his wife Patti Hansen. One evening when the young woman was away, the Stones guitarist, alone in his house in Weston, Connecticut, found himself overcome by a kind of melancholy that inspired in him this melancholy tune and the words: This place is empty without you; You and me we’re just like all the rest/And we don’t want to be alone. Keith Richards was probably thinking of popular songs by the Broadway composers when he carved out the delicate notes of “This Place Is Empty.” “I like to surprise people,” he would later tell Alan Di Perna in an interview. “Hey, I grew up with [that Hoagy Carmichael/Cole Porter] thing, man! My mother played me jazz and all the standards. That stuff just drips off of me.” He composed the song on acoustic guitar, before recording it on piano.

The harmonies on this tender ballad by Keith are fairly unusual, lying somewhere between blues, jazz, and country. His voice bears a dangerous resemblance to that of Tom Waits, the atmosphere is hushed, and it is in the same confidential tone that he tells of his love. Mick doubles him in the vocal harmonies with a high voice, providing a contrast with his sidekick’s. It is probably Don Was who opens the track on the piano, Keith Richards coming in only sporadically on a second piano to complement his playing.

The riff master strums and plays arpeggios as well as licks on an acoustic guitar (probably one of his Martins). Charlie accompanies the first two verses on the cymbals, before playing a more sustained beat, accompanied by a bass played this time by Keith himself. After having tasted slide electric on “Back of My Hand,” the Stones singer could not resist having another go at it, but this time on an acoustic guitar (from 1:24). Mostly he uses the bottleneck to underscore Keith’s tune, to very successful effect.

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