Rolling Stones songs: Sway
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
Ain’t flinging tears out on the dusty ground/ For all my friends out on the burial ground…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Rolling Stones Mobile, Stargroves, Newbury and Olympic Sounds Studios, London, England, March-May 1970
Guest musicians: Nicky Hopkins (piano), Paul Buckmaster (strings)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This song deals with depression, and not being able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
This was the first song recorded at Stargroves, a mobile recording studio built for The Rolling Stones outside Mick Jagger’s house in England. Led Zeppelin would use this studio for much of their work.
Paul Buckmaster, known for his work with Elton John, arranged the strings.
Mick Jagger played the rhythm electric guitar on this track.
This song is appreciated among Stones fans notably for its distinctive outro, which features a solo guitar that was played by Mick Taylor and complemented with a string section. Taylor explained: “I added my solo to ‘Sway,’ but it’s very much Mick (Jagger)’s song. I don’t think Keith’s on it. It had a great, loose feel. Mick played rhythm guitar on that. He’s a great rhythm player. My theory is he has a natural feel and that’s also why he’s such a great dancer.”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Sway” is perhaps the perfect musical manifestation of that morbid triptych
of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. Or rather of the price to be paid for a life in
their grip. The gaze leveled by Jagger at the world of the rock star is frankly
lugubrious. The character in the song wakes up for a spirit-sapping day, a
day that is going to destroy any notion he may have of circular time
because he is in the grip of a demon life. The second verse is sung in the
first person and its message is even bleaker: Ain’t flinging tears out on the
dusty ground for all my friends out on the burial ground. And nor are the
groupies able to restore any sense of hope to the narrator: One day I woke
up to find right in the bed next to mine someone that broke me up with a
corner of her smile.
The bitterness felt by the character in the song is most probably a
reflection of what Mick Jagger and the other Rolling Stones were feeling
after the tragedy of Altamont. The verdict is a painful one: society is violent
—and there is no reason to believe it will ever be any different. “Sway” was
the first song to be recorded by the Stones in autumn 1970, when they
returned to Stargroves, the Hampshire manor house purchased by Mick
Jagger a few months earlier, to use the technical facilities offered by their
mobile recording studio.
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