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Rolling Stones songs: Stop Breaking Down
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
I love my baby ninety nine degrees/ But that mama got a pistol, laid it down on me…
Written by: Robert Johnson (Trad. arranged by Jagger/Richard)
Recorded: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England, June 16-Oct. 17-31 1970; Rolling Stones Mobile, Nellcote, France, July-Oct-Nov. 1971; Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles, USA, Dec. 1971-March 1972; RCA Studios, Los Angeles, USA, March 1972
Guest musicians: Ian Stewart (piano)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This was originally recorded by the blues singer Robert Johnson in 1937. In the liner notes to Johnson’s Complete Recordings, released in 1990, Keith Richards explained: “Brian Jones had the first album, and that’s where I first heard it. I’d just met Brian, and I went around to his apartment – crash pad, actually, all he had in it was a chair, a record player, and a few records. One of which was Robert Johnson. He put it on, and it was just – you know – astounding stuff…
…When I first heard it, I said to Brian, Who’s that? Robert Johnson, he said. Yeah, but who’s the other guy playing with him? Because I was hearing two guitars, and it took me a long time to realize he was actually doing it all by himself. The guitar playing – it was almost like listening to Bach. You know, you think you’re getting a handle on playing the blues, and then you hear Robert Johnson – some of the rhythms he’s doing and playing and singing at the same time, you think, This guy must have three brains! You want to know how good the blues can get? Well, this is it.”
The Stones recorded in 1970 at Olympic Studios in London. Most of the album was recorded in France, where The Stones went to avoid paying taxes in England.
The Stones’ record label at the time, ABKCO Music, lost the rights to this in year 2000 when a court ruled that this, along with “Love In Vain,” were the property of Robert Johnson’s estate. The Stones thought the copyright on the song had expired.
This was one of three songs on Exile on Main St. where Ian Stewart played piano.
They used Nicky Hopkins on most tracks from the album.
The White Stripes covered this on their self-titled debut album.
Andy Johns, who engineered the Exile on Main St. sessions, told Goldmine magazine in 2010: “‘Stop Breaking Down’ is probably my favorite track. I remember getting Mick to play harmonica on that. It did not seem like it was finished. My brother (Glyn) had recorded earlier. I said, ‘We’ve got to use this’ because Mick Taylor plays some gorgeous lines and I’m very sure that it’s Mick Jagger playing the rhythm guitar as well. That’s why it’s a little choppier.”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Stop Breaking Down” is one of the blues nuggets recorded by Robert
Johnson during his second session (Dallas, Texas, June 19 and 20, 1937).
The story is racy, with the twist that is characteristic of the Delta pioneers.
A man cannot walk down the street without encountering a woman who
starts breaking down on him. At first he is conciliatory, but then he starts to
tell her a few home truths: You Saturday night women, now, you just ape
and clown and You don’t do nothing but tear my reputation down. The only
snag is that she is holding a pistol…
The Rolling Stones were clearly seduced by the humor, since they
incorporated the song into their repertoire during the Exile on Main St.
sessions. One unusual feature is that Keith Richards is conspicuous by his
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