Rolling Stones songs: Prodigal Son
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
Well father said, “Eldest son, kill the fatted calf/ Call the family round”…
Written by: Rev. Robert Wilkins
Recorded: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England, May 13-18, June 24 1968
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This song was written by Robert Wilkins, a reverend who recorded Delta Blues in the 1920s and 1930s. Keith Richards enjoyed Blues music and discovered the work of Wilkins in the ’60s, which is how The Stones came across this song.
The Prodigal Son is a story told in the Bible about a father who has two sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance early, and goes off to spend the money on hedonistic pursuits. After wasting all the money, he comes home repentant, and the father welcomes him with a feast in his honor. This doesn’t go over well with the older son, who feels that he should be rewarded for good behavior, but the father stresses the value of forgiveness.
Robert Wilkins’ original version was titled “That’s No Way To Get Along.” The Stones gave their version the title “Prodigal Son.”
In 1928 Wilkins wrote another song called “Rollin’ Stone.”
This is the only cover song on Beggar’s Banquet. The Rolling Stones wanted to be a Blues band when they started out, but they became more Pop-oriented soon after they formed.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
This was the first time since Out of Our Heads (1965) that the Stones had
recorded a song written by someone other than the Jagger-Richards duo.
“Prodigal Son” is a country blues number by Robert Wilkins. Born in the
state of Mississippi, Wilkins had been playing the blues since the twenties,
and between 1928 and 1935 had cut numerous records (including “Rolling
Stone Parts I & II”—a sign, no doubt!) either alone or accompanied by
Sleepy John Estes or Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers. In 1936, he converted to
Christianity, becoming a minister. In 1964, Reverend Robert Wilkins
recorded eight gospel blues numbers at the Wynwood Recording Studio in
Washington, DC. This album was released as The Original 1964
Recordings. One of these songs is “Prodigal Son,” an adaptation of another
country blues number by Wilkins titled “That’s No Way to Get Along,”
recorded in 1929. The title refers, of course, to the parable of the prodigal
son as told by Jesus and recounted in the Gospel according to Saint Luke.
The symbolism is of the lost sheep and of repentance. In the case of this
song, the central character absconds with his father’s money. After spending
it all and facing starvation, he is forced to work on a farm before returning
home to his father, where he hangs his head in shame and cries.
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?