rolling stones exile on main street torn and frayedCan You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: Torn and Frayed
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And his coat is torn and frayed/ It’s seen much better days/ Just as long as the guitar plays/ Let it steal your heart away…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Rolling Stones Mobile, Nellcote, France, Jun.-Nov. 1971; Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles, USA, Dec. 1971-March 1972; RCA Studios, Los Angeles, USA, March 1972
Guest musicians: Nicky Hopkins (piano), Al Perkins (slide guitar) , Jim Price (organ)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From Songfacts:
This was very much a country sound for the Rolling Stones, who were influenced by Gram Parsons, a good friend of Keith Richards who visited The Stones while they were recording Exile on Main St. in France. The lyrics could relate to either Parsons or Richards, who were weary from their hectic lifestyles. The guitar player’s coat in the song is “torn and frayed” from being on the road – a look at the less glamourous side of being a rock star.

Al Perkins played the pedal steel guitar, possibly at the recommendation of Parsons. After working on this track, Perkins played on Parsons’ solo albums and went on to play for Dan Fogelberg, Bob Dylan, Tori Amos and Sixpence None the Richer.

This also features Nicky Hopkins on piano and Jim Price on organ. Price is a horn player – trombone, trumpet, horn – who also occasionally played keyboards. He played on records for many British artists, including George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton.

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
The antihero of “Torn and Frayed” is a Jack Kerouac–style holy hobo. He is
a musician who, along with the other members of his band, works the clubs
of ill repute of provincial America in order to survive. The ballrooms and
smelly bordellos and dressing rooms filled with parasites are his lot.
They’re a bag of nerves on first nights. Despite everything, however, and
regardless of his coat… torn and frayed, just as long as the guitar plays, it
will steal your heart away.
Here too, the references to narcotic substances say it all: Joe’s got a
cough, sounds kinda rough/Yeah, and the codeine to fix it/Doctor
prescribes, drugstore supplies/Who’s gonna help him to kick it?
Should this
be seen as an allusion to Keith Richards, or even Gram Parsons, or is the
singer poking fun at his own rock star status?

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