rolling stones shattered 1978Can You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: Shattered
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Laughter, joy, and loneliness and sex and sex and sex and sex/ Look at me, I’m in tatters…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: EMI Pathé Marconi Studios, Paris, France, Oct. 10-Dec. 1977, Jan. 5-March 2 1978
Guest musicians: Ian Stewart (piano), Ian McLagan (organ), Simon Kirke (congas)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From Songfacts:
The lyrics are a bleak picture of life in New York City. The Stones always had a love/hate relationship with the US, and Mick Jagger’s lyrics were often influenced by his thoughts on the country (see “Satisfaction”). New York in particular is a place where you could be wildly successful, but is also a city filled crime, drugs, and poverty. It should be noted that The Stones have taken shots at their home country of England as well, notably on “Hang Fire.”

The last song on Some Girls. While they were recording this album, Keith Richards had drug charges hanging over his head from a bust in Toronto. Facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, Keith let Mick take control of the album, which is reflected on songs like this. Richards ended up getting off easy – he was sentenced to probation and ordered to play a concert for the blind.

Richards came up with the guitar riff on this and the line “Sha-doobie.” Jagger wrote the rest.

Just after this was released, The Stones performed it on Saturday Night Live. It was not a great performance, as the band had some libations backstage before they went on, but was memorable for Mick Jagger licking Ron Wood on the lips for about 5 seconds. This stuff just didn’t happen on TV back them.

When Jagger sings, “Shmatta, shmatta, shmatta, I can’t give it away on 7th Avenue, this town’s been wearing tatters,” he’s making reference to the fashion district of New York City, which is on 7th Avenue. The word “Shmatta” is slang for old, worn clothing.

From the Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
“In ‘Shattered,’” explains Mick Jagger to Jonathan Cott, “Keith and Woody [Ron Wood] put a riff down, and all we had was the word shattered. So I just made the rest up and thought it would sound better if it were halftalked.” This track provides the Stones singer with an opportunity to set out his own vision of New York, a combination of attraction and repulsion, most probably inspired by the famous blackout of the city in July 1977 and the looting that ensued, particularly in the Bronx: Love and hope and sex and dreams are still surviving on the street, and later Pride and joy and greed and sex, that’s what makes our town the best. Thus the Rolling Stones conclude Some Girls with an urban rock track worthy of the punk bands. It also affords Mick Jagger an entry, albeit a furtive one, into the world of rap. “Shattered” was released as a single (with “Everything Is Turning to Gold” as the B-side) in the United States, but only made it as far as number 31 (February 1979)