Rolling Stones songs: Sleep Tonight
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
You always watch the sun go down/ The same old shadows crawl over town…
Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: RPM Studios, NYC, USA, July 16-Aug. 17 & Sept. 10-Oct. 15 1985; Right Track Studios, NYC, USA, Nov. 15-Dec. 5 1985
Guest musicians: Tom Waits, Janis Pendarvis and Dolette McDonald (backing vocals)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This is a lullaby written by Keith Richards on the piano. He sang lead.
The last song on Dirty Work. Ian Stewart, the piano player and road manager who was considered the “Sixth Stone,” died of a heart attack on December 12, 1985, after the album was completed but before its release. Thirty seconds of his piano playing was added to the end of this as a tribute to him.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Sleep Tonight” is a ballad composed on the piano by Keith Richards in the
studio. Ron Wood, who was with him and liked the gentle melody,
accompanies on drums. Keith later wrote: “The chorus is virtually a doowop chorus in C,
but then the verses modulate quite naturally into another key.
I had to wait for other people to convince me to go ahead with it; for a
while I was saying, ‘This is all good fun but we’re wasting time, because
I’m SURE this is somebody else’s song’ (laughs)”
“Sleep Tonight” is the second song on the album (after “Too Rude”)
with Keith Richards on lead vocal: They robbed you of your dignity. They
even steal your heart from me. It ain’t revenge, you understand…
Thus it is Keith who brings Dirty Work to a close, with a ballad that is half-blues
and half-gospel. Despite good intentions, however, both melodically
and harmonically, the song is weak and sounds like Keith Richards solo,
rather than with the Rolling Stones. He and Ron Wood are indeed the only
two members of the band present, and they divide up the various roles
between them. The pianist seems to be Tom Waits, Keith evidently not
possessing this degree of fluidity. Alternatively, it could be Chuck Leavell,
who was already present on synthesizers. Keith plays a Martin 00-21
acoustic with Nashville tuning, as on “Wild Horses” in 1971. He is also on
electric, and Alan Rogan would point out that this is an ideal opportunity to
appreciate his blond 1959 Telecaster. It is certainly true that the instrument
has a beautiful sound, and Keith’s solo passages are particularly sumptuous
(2:18). Keith is also, presumably, playing bass. Ronnie is on drums, as
Charlie was incapacitated, but the results do not flatter him. If he had been
surprisingly effective on “Too Rude,” here he flirts with disaster. However,
this can hardly be held against him, as he is a guitarist, not a drummer.
What is strange is that Keith wanted to use his take… Keith, as we have
seen, is on lead vocal. Although this is not one of his best performances, he
is helped by some very good backing vocals from the likes of Tom Waits,
Don Covay, Kirsty MacColl, Janice Pendarvis, Dolette McDonald, and
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