Rolling Stones songs: Sweet Virginia
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
Come on, come on down, you got it in ya/ Got to scrape the shit right off you shoes…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England, June 30-July 20 1970; Rolling Stones Mobile, Nellcote, France, Oct. 17-31 1970; Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles, USA, July-Oct–Nov. 1971; RCA Studios, Los Angeles, USA, Dec.-March 1971, March 1972
Guest musicians: Ian Stewart (piano), Bobby Keys (tenor saxophone), Clydie King, Vanetta Fields, Dr John, Shirley Goodman and Tammi Lynn (backing vocals)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This song refers to drug trafficking: “yes I’ve got the desert in my toenail, and I hid the speed inside my shoe.”
Keith Richards said in 2003: “Some songs – ‘Sweet Virginia’ – were held over from Sticky Fingers. It was the same lineup and I’ve always felt those two albums kind of fold into each other… there was not much time between them and I think it was all flying out of the same kind of energy.”
This was never released as a single, but it was one of the more popular songs on Exile on Main St., garnering significant radio play and making its way into the set list of many Stones concerts. This was somewhat surprising considering the last line of the song: “Got to scrape that s–t right off your shoes.”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Sweet Virginia” is a drug song, or rather a song about the difficulty of
giving up an addiction to chemical substances. The person in whom the
narrator is interested, a young woman, goes on a trip (in the primary sense
of the term), wadin’ through the waste stormy winter with no friend to help
her, but with speed inside [her] shoe. It seems that she is only able to cope
thanks to California wine and its sweet and bitter fruits. Then comes the
refrain in the form of advice: Come on down, Sweet Virginia and Got to
scrape the shit right off your shoes. Although revisiting the title of a 1926
recording by Mamie Smith (“Sweet Virginia Blues”), the song has a
pervasive country feel, not the more commercial Nashville sound, but rather
the hillbilly music of country pioneers Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams
and its modern incarnation, the Bakersfield sound. “Sweet Virginia” was
chosen for the B-side of “Rocks Off,” a single destined exclusively for
Japan in September 1972. Despite not being released elsewhere, the song
proved a popular play with radio stations, above all in the United States.
The Stones included it in the set list for their 1972 tour.
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