On Apr. 18, the Rolling Stones took part in one of the most impactful events since quarantine has started — the eight-hour “One World: Together at Home” live-streamed event. Deemed as “the largest gathering of pop stars since Live Aid in 1985,” the show raised a total of $127.9 million to support health care workers in their fight against COVID-19, as well as attempted to raise awareness and inspire citizens to help. Much of this was by getting a variety of celebrities to participate in various ways.
Similarly to other musical celebrities, including Elton John, Taylor Swift, John Legend, and many others, the Stones decided to inspire through song, with their choice being their classic 1969 hit “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
The Rolling Stones were the last announced to the lineup, the day before the event. Global Citizen CEO, Hugh Evans shared his enthusiasm about finally getting them confirmed, as well as amazement in how the Stones pulled off getting the piece together in time, from their four individual homes.
“It definitely was the Rolling Stones that I was holding my breath for, because as you saw, their performance was about five minutes and 12 seconds or thereabouts, so that’s a fairly decent chunk of the show. And we only got final confirmation on the Wednesday beforehand. Every day was like a week for us this past week. [Laughs.] That was definitely the one that I was most… I wouldn’t say anxious, but just most conscious of. And when David Joseph from UMG and Joyce (Smyth), who’s their longtime manager, called and said that they were completely confirmed and fully in, our whole team was so thrilled. There’s really only one band in the world called the Rolling Stones, so that elevated the power of what was achieved in an already magnificent night.”
Global Citizen also tweeted after their performance with the caption, “If you start us up, we’ll never stop fighting for global health,” referencing another one of their hits.
I am glad Global Citizen and the Stones were able to work together and pull this off, as these five minutes and 12 seconds were very inspiring for me and everyone I talked to that watched. Their epic performance was vital to this 8-hour event.
Not wanting to appear biased, I looked up reviews online after the performance and was happy to see that the media agreed with my family, friends, and I. I even took a Billboard poll, which asked you to vote for your favorite performance from the entire event, and I was happy to see that the Stones placed second to the beautifully collaborated final performance of “The Prayer” by Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, John Legend, Lady Gaga, and Lang Lang.
To me, the Stones were the ones that really stole the show. Even just being able to see them four up on stage together was uplifting in and of itself, whereas celebrities such as the host, Lady Gaga, kept it more low-key than people expected, with her cabaret-inspired cover of Nat King Cole’s “Smile.”
The Stones’ social-distancing rendition started with four black grid screens, with the titles “Mick Cam,” “Keith Cam,” “Ronnie Cam,” and “Charlie Cam.” Then Mick Jagger’s video screen suddenly turned on, appearing to be in his living room, with a floral curtain to his left and right and black-and-white photography behind him. Unlike other celebrities, the band gave no introduction, getting right into the performance. Jagger instead simply said to the audience, “Here’s one I hope you know. And you can join in if you want,” before “turning” to the band and asking “Everyone ready? Okay. 1. 2. 3. And…” and then began playing acoustic guitar and singing loud and proud.
Then, one by one, the band joined. Keith was the next to turn on his screen, sitting on a red sofa with his classical guitar in hand, a glass of what seemingly looked like lemon water on a black table along with a book I couldn’t make the title out of. He joined on the back-up vocals during the chorus.
Ronnie followed, looking to be at the top of stairs with a chandelier overhead, an inflatable palm tree to his right, and electric guitar in hand (and a second guitar behind him). Ronnie acted as if he was on stage, performing a pretty amazing guitar solo.
Last to join was big-teal-headphones-wearing Charlie Watts, as he banged his drumstick against an antique-looking white armchair as he sat on a stool. Hundreds of records were behind him, as well as a mysterious brown door among his red walls. But, what stood out most with Charlie for me was not his air-drumming over the seemingly prerecorded percussion playing (which received many memes and fans raving over), but his great big smile, which I think just radiated through the screen and reassured me everything was going to be okay.
This all got me thinking, I think a large part of why the Rolling Stones have and are still so successful and loved is because of their timelessness. You can flip them on at any time in your life, no matter how you are feeling, and connect to the band. Even if they are singing about something completely different than what you are going through, they capture that specific emotion so directly and beautifully.
Whether it’s an uplifting beat, a Jagger lyric you just can’t forget because it digs deep at you every time, or a Keith riff that just makes you want to get up and get creative because you are so inspired by his talent, there is something about them that is enlightening not just during this time of isolation but always.
Whereas I have been listening to the Stones for quite some time now, much before quarantine, I realize now after talking to some friends, that many other people could benefit from their music during this time. I mean, they’ve been around since 1962, and have released over 20 studio albums, not including all of their live ones as well as other compilations. So, I think you are bound to find something you like, whether it’s their more experimental stuff or classic hard rock, or if it’s just one song from one album for one mood.
So I decided to create a playlist on Spotify, consisting of 21 songs from their various albums over the years. I chose 21 songs because I’m hoping 2021 will be the year this will all be over. These songs most accurately represent the songs I’ve been listening to during quarantine and have been the perfect accompaniment to whatever emotion I am feeling. I also think they are great songs that encompass that idea of timelessness, and I would like to show you how you can apply each song to your life right now. The power of music during this time is very impactful, and I think we can use this playlist to keep enlightened. Whether you want to listen to it all in one sitting, pick a song based on your mood, or do a TikTok dance to one (although it is ridiculous, one positive of TikTok is its way for bringing us to together while we are apart), that’s all up to you. But sit back, relax, and enjoy the 1 hour and 32 minutes of pure magnificence.
“Let the Stones Be Your Light” Playlist
- For when you are feeling happy and hopeful… “Tops” –Tattoo You– 1981
This slower song is definitely one of the Stones more experimental ones and is a song I didn’t know before but has now become one of my all-time favorites. The overall rhythm behind it is very cheerful, and moves with momentum, making you smile and want to get up and sing along to it — in an almost theatrical way. This is one of those songs I turn on my Sonos when I’m about to shower or dance in my room alone to. I love Mick’s falsetto as well as Mick Taylor’s addition on this. The song has some sweet chord changes and just this slinky but happy melody that keeps it moving. I also love the line “don’t let the world pass you by,” which could be interpreted now as a way of looking forward to after quarantine when a lot of people are going to feel inspired and take on the world head on, becoming heroes and “stars” in their own magnificent ways. I definitely am going to try to live more in the present and have less worries, and I think this line and this song reminds you to do that. I also think “Tops” is saying don’t be afraid of change and take more risks because you never know what can come out of them. I definitely think I am going to try to take more risks after quarantine and really focus on living life to the fullest.
2. For when you are feeling lonely… “Laugh, I Nearly Died” –A Bigger Bang– 2005
At first, interpreting this bluesy/soul sounding ballad, I saw it as a story about someone that has traveled the world and has thought to live life to the fullest but still feels lonely and like none of it matters because they have no one to experience these moments with. The song is definitely dark. If you are missing your loved one during this time, maybe you will see this song as someone missing the person they recently broke up with and asking why they had to hurt them, and also why they can’t be together literally and romantically anymore. During quarantine, a lot of couples are separated, from the ones at college that may have been used to seeing each other as often as they wanted, or, on the flip side, couples that have been doing long-distance since high school who were finally looking forward to being able to see each other once they got back to their hometowns to then find out they aren’t allowed to leave their homes. You can also see it as a story about someone that is genuinely questioning life, and “wondering who’s going to be my guide,” whether that’s a person, a new place, a sign, or something else. I think this song is about someone asking what the real purpose of life is, and no matter how far they travel to find it, or where they look, they can’t. During quarantine, we are all trying to find answers and also looking deep within ourselves to self-reflect and find out what’s most important to us. The person in the song may also be “sick and tired” from being alone for so long, and wants to find that special someone to share life with. Now more than ever, a lot of people are also finding it hard to still continue to date and try to find love while being so confined to our homes.
3. For when you are feeling hopeless… “Angie” –Goats Head Soup– 1973
This softer sweet ballad, with whispered vocals, a dramatic chord progression, and a beautiful interplay of strings and electric guitar, has always been a love of mine. Although the lyrics seem to be hauntingly about love and potentially a break up, I think this is a great example of where you can take Stones lyrics and apply them to something else. The first couple lines for instance, taking out the “Angies”, ask the questions of “When will those dark clouds all disappear / where will it lead us from here / With no lovin’ in our souls / and no money in our coats / You can’t say we’re satisfied.” The singer keeps asking the question of where we are going to go after this, and mentions the “sadness in your eyes”, begging whoever he is speaking to, to dry them. This could directly apply to our lives in quarantine, wondering when the sadness and the dark clouds that surround it are going to pass, as well as what the future will look like after. A lot of us feel broken and feel it hard to love and socialize from only behind screens. A lot of us have also lost our jobs or are currently not working, which could relate to the “no money in our coats” reference. You definitely can say we’re not satisfied during quarantine.
4. For when you are in need of a friend… “Waiting on a Friend” –Tattoo You– 1981
As obvious as this choice may seem since the song does have the word “friend” in it, I think this song’s lyrics very literally point out the importance of friendships over everything else. Jagger sings the lyrics, vulnerably if I may add, that point out how there is no need to worry or fixate on anything else, since all we really need is a good friend. “Don’t need a whore / I don’t need no booze / Don’t need a virgin priest / But I need someone I can cry to / I need someone to protect.” Besides the literality of the lyrics, the song also has a very uplifting rhythm and beat behind it. The music video shows the band embracing each other and their friendships, in colorful outfits I note, which is bound to make you cheerful and reminiscent of times when the Stones and us could be in the same room with each other. During quarantine, a large thing people are realizing is just how much we took for granted before all of this. I am hoping that once we return to our “normal” lives, we don’t lose that sense of really focusing on what truly matters, which is being surrounded by those that care. I think this song is just overwhelmingly full of warmth and beauty, no wonder they ended the album with it. Keith and Ronnie also do a shimmering job with combining their guitars, and Sonny Rollins on the end on the sax is amazing.
5. For when you want to get up and dance… “Miss You” –Some Girls– 1978
This song is one of my favorite songs by the Stones, and it’s simply because whenever I hear it, it makes me want to dance. It’s irresistible, it’s disco, it’s blues, it’s sassy, and it’s just a groove. There’s also references to NYC, my favorite city, being from NJ and growing up visiting every weekend I can, which makes me hopeful for the days when I can soon go back there. Sometimes I’ll be listening to this song on the way to class, back when we would walk to class with people around us, and catch myself bopping my head or walking a little differently because I couldn’t help myself, and then would have to stop myself from going full-on dance mode. Yet, I think after quarantine I am going to try less to be worried about what other people think and just do more of what I love, even if that’s dancing in pubic like a fool.
6. For when you are feeling worn out… “Torn and Frayed” –Exile on Main Street– 1972
Times during quarantine can be tough, and although we may not be going out as much, it can still be very exhausting. I know I have also been having trouble falling asleep due to anxiety during this time, which causes me to be even more tired throughout the day due to lying awake all night. I think this song reaches to the more country-soul side of the Stones and is really about capturing that true identity of the gypsy bohemian true rock n’ roll legend Keith Richards we all know and love, and especially emphasizing the less glamorous sides of him. This song could definitely be referencing Keith’s heroin addiction, such as with the “coat” being a possibly metaphor for his “arm”, the line “Who’s gonna help him to kick it” asking who is going to help Keith kick his addiction, and “Just as long as the guitar plays” being the band just hoping Keith doesn’t die in the middle of a performance. On a broader note, I think the song is about just being torn up from tour and what the weight of hard work can do on your shoulders, similarly to the message of another incredible Stones song, “Worried About You.” That song has a lovely yearning melody and questioning of purpose as “I’m a hardworking man/ When did I ever do you wrong?” Even the continuous flow of “Torn and Frayed” gives it sort of this steady feeling that could reference someone at nonstop work steadily moving along, often with no sense of an endpoint. This could be in reference to all of the healthcare and essential workers hard at work right now with no answers as to how to solve this or when this will be over, and having to continually just keep at it. Just like Keith’s torn and frayed tour jackets, doctors’ faces are torn and frayed from wearing masks all day. I think the song is also about Keith wanting to escape their chaotic rock star lives at times to return to a simpler one, which is a lot like our lives now, living in simplicity.
7. For when you are feeling very locked in and literally quarantined… “Winter” –Goats Head Soup– 1973
Although this soul song seems to more so capture the gloom of winter, it could also relate to how we wish we weren’t so stuck inside. If you switch the word “winter” for quarantine, I think it is valid to say, “And it sure been a cold, cold quarantine / And a lotta love is all burned out.” It definitely feels cold, not only for me with the fluctuating NJ weather during this weird winter to spring transitioning period, but also figurately feels cold with being forced to isolate from others. I also “hope it’s gonna be a long hot summer/ And a lotta love will be burnin’ bright” because I think we deserve it, and I hope quarantine is over by then that we at least get a little bit of summer back. It also feels like sometimes during quarantine we are just going through the motions, and almost like the days don’t actually feel real. The line “My feet been draggin ‘cross the ground” encompasses this feeling, because I am just dragging myself to get through the day when it seems there is nothing to look forward to anymore. We all wish we could be out and about, whether it’s traveling the world or just being with friends that live less than five minutes away, but we can’t, and it’s difficult. I think we could take the lines “Sometimes I think about you, baby / Sometimes I cry about you, Lord / Yeah, and I wanna wrap my coat around you” and later “Baby, sometimes I wanna keep you warm” could be us wishing we could just hug our friends, and when we think about this, it brings tears to our eyes. I never knew how much I would value a hug (I’m not even a touchy person), until now, and from now on I am going to make sure to always appreciate every one I give and get. All we can do now is wait for “winter” a.k.a. quarantine to be over. I think this wistful song reminds us that even if we have a dark season, or time in our lives, there will always be the next season to look forward to. Although Keith isn’t on this track, what makes the song is the slow buildup of each instrument, including the combination of Mick Taylor achingly playing the melancholy guitar, Nicky Hopkins playing the piano, and Nick Harrison on strings.
8. For when you are feeling scared… “You Can Make It If You Try” (Cover) –The Rolling Stones- 1964
Although this song is a cover of American R&B singer Gene Allison’s 1958 song, I think the Stones really made it their own. I also think this song can encompass some of our feelings of being scared and bottling up your emotions so much to the point that you bawl your eyes out from being so overwhelmed. The lines “Sometimes you had to fall / Don’t you know sometime you want to cry / Don’t it make you feel so bad sometime / You want to lay down and die” demonstrate that we don’t know what is going to happen and everything just feels so bad, yet somehow keeps seeming to get worse. It’s definitely hard to be positive during this time. But I think this song is trying to remind us that it is totally okay to cry, just as long as you try to pick yourself back up afterwards because, “You can make it if you try.” The song in a way is saying sometimes you have to see the negative sides of things before you can come out to the better outcome. I think quarantine is our way of reflecting on how we’ve been living so far and prepare to make changes for afterwards. Everyone keeps saying, “I just want to go back to normal,” but in a way, there was a lot of problems with our version of normal. I think instead, we need to try to aim for something new when we get out of here, and I know we can make it if we just try a little harder to be better.
9. For when you are feeling angry and the world seems like it’s crashing down… “Gimme Shelter” –Let it Bleed– 1969
This song seems to be a plea for help in all its intensity and bleak truth of capturing everything coming apart during the Vietnam War. It’s apocalyptic if you ask me, and I always loved Merry Clayton’s vocals ever since the first time I heard it as a little girl. Growing up, I always liked this song when I would jam in the backseat with my parents and brother, but it wasn’t until much later that I actually listened to the lyrics and realized what they were about. As I previously explained, I believe there is a lot of things that were corrupt about our society before, including the topics brought up in this song — rape, murder, war, etc. This song is raw and powerful in the way it points out all of our flaws, calling us to make a change, and fast, or else things will get worse. I think this song is very relevant now, because although we may be lucky enough to have physical shelter to quarantine in, we still feel exposed and helpless during this time, and in a sense, not sheltered. The song begs for help, just as we are, angrily and impatiently, as the news just keeps giving us worse and worse information, and the deaths rise and rise. I like how the song ends on a happier note, “I tell you love, sister / It’s just a kiss away, it’s just a kiss away” suggesting that all we need to do is come together and love one another. Maybe then we could rid ourselves of some of these flaws. Even though during quarantine we may not be able to be together, we can still stand together virtually.
10. For when you are feeling confused… “Ventilator Blues” –Exile on Main Street– 1972
Almost 50 years ago, the Stones came out with this roar that is said to be referencing the heat the band faced when recording in a basement with one window. Inspired by their frustration, the band decided to write this blues song. I also think the song could suggest that everyone has their own “ventilator” that they need, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, candy, love, anything, but everyone has that one thing they need, like air. And we all want that ventilator, especially after a long day of hard work and being pissed off from it being so hot. So you have to “vent” in whatever way makes you happy.
However, now the word “ventilator” means something completely different to us, and the Stones were right in seeing in the future that “Don’t matter where you are / Everybody’s gonna need a ventilator”, although unfortunately we can’t just “Come down and get it,” because of the lack of supply. I think this song is also about growing old and dying, and how your body breaks downs. Although it seems like everyone is living longer these days and “Ain’t nobody slowing down no way”, this virus is definitely hitting those most vulnerable, and we are all at risk. I think the song is also saying it’s inevitable that everyone will grow old and die, and you too will at some point need a ventilator, whether it’s now with the virus or later down the road. Pretty deep, and definitely the nastiest sounding song on Exile.
11. For when you are feeling unmotivated… “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” –Out of Our Heads– 1965
Besides having a catchy and fuzzy sounding guitar riff and sneering vocals, this song was very historic at the time it came out, and youth culture’s dissatisfactions with how they were being treated could be seen as a parallel to our dissatisfactions as citizens from the government now, wanting them to do more to protect us and stop this. People began fighting back and participating in activism and protests, just as we are now. Like youth culture during this time feeling like they had no place in their world, we as citizens may feel like we have no voice, and all we are doing is sitting in our homes doing nothing. Waiting. It’s hard to stay motivated. We want to make an impact, but as the youth culture had older generations as their limitations, we have this quarantine as ours. Mick also notably described this “spirit of the times” as “alienation,” which I think is a world view represented before quarantine, during, and probably after unless we make some big changes. The “man” who “comes on the radio” and gives “useless information” could relate to the media right now and how we are consuming ourselves with information via the news, a lot of it being negative, and not knowing what to do with that information. We didn’t know who to trust then and still don’t now.
12. For when you are feeling sad or heartbroken… “Wild Horses” –Sticky Fingers– 1971
Whether you are feeling heart broken or not, you can definitely feel for the emotions felt in this soulful beauty of a ballad hinted with country. “Wild Horses” will always be a classic for me, whether I am just feeling down or am in the midst of a romantic battle. Even without looking at the lyrics, the song sort of puts you in this majestic trance feeling that just feels different than other Stones songs. The song seems to be about the obstacles you face when you are in a relationship and whether love is enough.
In a way, I also could see this song as a heartbreaking way of saying goodbye to a loved one or even just reflecting on all of the lives lost from this pandemic. It’s as if you are staying by a sick one’s bedside, even if it’s via Zoom because of hospital limitations, just like Mick was by Marianne during this time. You’re saying that you will be there for them until the end because even “wild horses couldn’t drag [you] away.” We have to stick together throughout this time, even when things get tough. Maybe you’ve watched people in your life “suffer a dull, aching pain” from being diagnosed with this virus, and it’s hard to keep positive during this time, so “faith has been broken tears must be cried.” The song ends with, “we’ll ride them some day,” a hopeful outlook for when this is over.
13. For when you are feeling a sense of wanderlust… “Driving Too Fast”-A Bigger Bang– 2005
Although we may not be able to do a lot of things during quarantine, and maybe we can’t travel, we are still able to drive, and since there aren’t as many people on the road, we may even be able to speed a little bit. Maybe you can get in your car and blast this up-tempo rocker, as you feel that adrenaline rush from driving too fast. This is a thrill I definitely love, and I think what makes it great is not just the driving itself but also how I’m usually blasting my music alongside it. A long drive can sometimes feel like a mini trip at times, so in a sense you could take a lot of mini vacations during quarantine and explore your state like you’ve never had the opportunity to before. I also personally love driving when it’s pouring out, as the song suggests. On a deeper level, I think the Stones are making this metaphor to you being in the driver’s seat of your life, and you get to therefore make the decisions. Although right now it may seem like we don’t have many decisions to make, we still do have the important ones, like prioritizing our own protection and safety.
14. For when you want to scream… “Paint It Black” –Aftermath– 1966
Another favorite of mine, this song is definitely another one I blast in the car and rock out to. And during quarantine especially, everything can seem full of darkness. I definitely have had days where I just wanted to explode and rebel alongside the Stones. I felt a deep connection to the line, “I look inside myself and see my heart is black.” I feel like while at times people may be feeling very inspired and productive during this, there are other days when you just want to hide in your shell and basically quarantine yourself within quarantine by staying put in your room and keeping to yourself. I think that during difficult times, it’s a human practice to curl up and self-isolate. This song represents our agitations during COVID-19 and how it seems some days that everything is moving so slowly. Where is the good news? Where is the break? When are we not constantly going to talk about one topic? I also “see people turn their heads and quickly look away” if I go on a walk outside for example and one of us has to cross the street so we aren’t too close, while we both notably wear masks. It definitely is “not easy facing up when your whole world is black,” but I think the way we try to is by remembering we are all in this together. I also think it is good to embrace every feeling you have during quarantine and let yourself feel all of those feelings, as long as you aren’t spending too much time in any one emotion.
15. For when you are feeling nostalgic for summer… “Cherry Oh Baby” (Cover) -Black and Blue- 1976
If you want to pretend you are on some tropical vacation in Jamaica, maybe you can put a picture of the ocean on your tv screen as I’ve seen people are doing and listen to this little reggae number. This cover of Eric Donaldson’s 1971 song was definitely more experimental for the Stones, and they had a series of reggae influence on other tracks, like in “Luxury,” “Hey Negrita,” “Too Rude,” and others, or the similar Moroccan influence in “Continental Drift.” This song is definitely a love song, but you can take the lines, “It’s so long I’ve been waiting / For you to come right in / Now that we are together / Is make my joy run over” to also signify impatient awaiting for summer, and when it finally gets here how happy it makes us. Summer is my favorite season and also usually when I am happiest because I have less worries and can just relax. So just close your eyes and imagine you are on a little Jamaican beach while you listen to this. I also think Mick’s attempt at soul may not be the best ever, but you can feel his heart and passion in it, similarly to how you could belt out to this song in your house or any Stones song you love with that same passion, even if your voice isn’t particularly great. There is definitely something special here.
16. For when you are feeling desperate… “Sister Morphine” –Sticky Fingers– 1971
Although this song may be more so about drugs, you can take the desperation in Mick’s voice to also represent how we long for quarantine to be over. Lines like “Oh, I don’t think I can wait that long / Oh, you see that I’m not that strong” could be us questioning our strength and how much longer this will go on for. Will we make it? The line, “Things are not what they seem” could reference us wondering what is happening in the world and not knowing what news and information is true. It could also represent someone in bed with the virus, especially in the lines, “Oh, can’t you see I’m fading fast? / And that this shot will be my last” but instead of shot, you could replace it for breath. The line “turn my nightmares into dreams” is definitely something I think we can all relate to during this time, as I’ve personally been having a lot of literal nightmares as well as feel like the world is just a nightmare at large right now.
17. For when you are in need of a laugh… “Far Away Eyes” –Some Girls– 1978
This song simply always manages to make me laugh, whether it’s just listening to Mick’s spoke-sung drawl or watching the music video and seeing all of the band’s facial expressions. It’s definitely another experimental song for the Stones, as it’s this kind of mock-country ballad. Quarantine is a great time to explore new music, as well as listen to some experimental songs by your favorite artists that you may not know exist. This parody song is definitely one that I didn’t know before, but now have come to enjoy.
18. For when you are in need of escape… “Heaven” –Tattoo You– 1981
This song is another one of my favorites, and it’s also another experimental one for the Stones. It has a very psychedelic feel to it, almost hymn-like, that doesn’t sound like really any other Stones song to me. It’s weird and unique and, in a way, ahead of its time. You kind of get lost in the song as it has this cool rhythm to it alongside the mystical chimes, and the lyrics talk about all of the different kinds of heavens, from afterlife to sexual ecstasy. It’s empowering and sexy and definitely a song you can flip on and just cancel out the rest of the world to. During quarantine, we need a sense of escape, especially when we are consuming so much negativity .The song overall has a positive tone to it, with lines like, “Nothing will harm you / Nothing will stand in your way” giving us a hopeful outlook that everything will work out. “Nothing will stop you” and us if we stand together, and if we do, we can be invincible.
19. For when you want some classic rock… “Rocks Off” –Exile on Main Street– 1972
I’ve always thought of “Rocks Off” as one of the purest versions of rock n’ roll for the Stones and the music world at large. It’s unique, and like “Heaven,” also makes you feel like you’re in a dream or somewhere out of body for the four minutes and 32 seconds it lasts. There’s guitar, bass, trumpet, saxophone, piano, drum, and of course Mick’s great vocals. There’s also the great climax from 3:35 to the end, where if you focus on a different instrument or Mick’s vocals each time you listen, it gives you a completely different experience — like you are discovering something new. The lyrics are dark and spooky and seem to be filled with anxiety and loneliness, such as in lines, “I’m always hearing voices / On the street / I want to shout / But I can’t hardly speak.” Mick feels wounded as he sings and seems to want to escape from his struggles just like we do during quarantine. But the Stones remind us in this song to just keep rocking and rolling, and that will keep us going and give us hope.
20. For when you are feeling impatient… “I am Waiting” –Aftermath– 1966
Going back to the origins of Brian Jones and his dulcimer, this broke-pop song is essential in its impactful way of explaining the hardships of the historic Vietnam War and society’s impatience for the day that would finally “end at last.” I think you could take this song at a larger meaning and relate it to our state of quarantine now. Especially in the line “And escalation fears,” during quarantine, it seems like things keep escalating and getting worse and worse and we are getting more fearful. So “we’re waiting” for the day that someone will just save us, and that fear will subside. We’re impatient from waiting, and although it’s only been a few weeks, it feels like eternity.
21. For when you are feeling like life is unfair… “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” –Love You Live– 1977
We lastly have the song they performed at the “One World: Together at Home” event. I picked the live version rather than the original Let it Bleed version for the playlist as I can’t wait for the day when I can see these four men on stage together again instead of in four separate screens away from each other. I know we will have survived this thing when I see that. The Stones say it best in this song, “You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes you find / You get what you need.” During quarantine, I think a lot of people are establishing desire from necessity and focusing less on materialistic things. I know my family is only spending money on food right now, and we already have shelter and each other, so that is our three biggest necessities. Sometimes things don’t always go our way — quarantine seeming erupted so suddenly and rapidly — but we have to just try to stay positive and focus on what really matters. Seven minutes and 42 seconds, with at least four ecstatic peaks, this is one of the best songs ever. It is moving and deep and ambitious and authentic and also sexy when the tempo picks up too.
The Stones are such an impactful band, and I think we all need an extra sense of meaning right now. The power of music during quarantine is especially strong, and I am amazed by what so many artists are doing. We need a little light at this time, and the Stones are here to be that for us.