The Joup Friday Album: The Rolling Stones – Some Girls

Some Girls

The age-old rock and roll debate continues. Are you a Beatles or Stones person? I am torn on this debate because my mother was the Beatles fan and my dad was the Rolling Stones fan. I will say I always lean towards the Stones side because of the dirty image they projected. To quote the recently departed Tom Petty from a late 90’s interview he said “Rock and roll was never supposed to be nice”. His statement inferred that rock and roll was originally labeled as the devils music and it challenged authority like a battle cry for the young, rebellious kids of the 1950’s and onward. There is nothing nice about a battle. Parents and the clergy tried to ban rock music and it made the kids that much more curious. The Beatles were nice and palatable, they were still a threat but they were wolves in sheep’s clothing. If the Beatles were a glass of wine with dinner the Rolling Stones were a whole bottle of Old Crow whisky, straight with no chaser.

I love many of the Rolling Stones records but I chose the album “Some Girls”, reason being that it sums up everything that the Stones had to offer up musically in 1978. It has the essence of blues, Motown, country, punk, rock and roll and urban contemporary. Only the Stones could get away with opening an album with the disco laden song “Miss You” and then opening up the second side of the record with “Far Away Eyes” a cartoonish, tongue and cheek country song. Then there is the classic “Beast of Burdon” which is a spot on lift off of The Velvet Underground’s song “Sweet Jane”. If you listen to the song the next time you hear it on classic rock radio you can almost sing “Sweet Jane” over the verses. Only the Stones could borrow so creatively and get away with it. The English band the Kooks do a medley of the two songs in their live act and have unlocked the obvious similarity between the two tracks.

The title track song “Some Girls” is something of legend as well because not only do they poke fun at Bob Dylan for losing his house after a divorce Mick Jagger testifies that “black girls just wanna get fucked all night I just don’t have that much jam”. The lyrics caught the ears of civil rights activist and operation PUSH founder Jessie Jackson and he was livid. The Stones camp issued an apology in the press but Jagger spoke off the record and stated that he had indeed fucked the planet, had every type of girl in the world and that he had met his match sexually with black women. Is that so bad? You know he isn’t lying? Once again the Stones got away with it.

“When the Whip Comes Down” is a sleazy look into the male prostitution trade at the famous cross streets of 53rd and 3rd in New York City at that time. The songs lyrics are muddy but if you read them and isolated them you would be shocked. They did a trick by burying the vocals in the mix on purpose to see what more they could get away with. Look up the lyrics and you will laugh about how graphic they are or you will be truly offended.

“Before They Make Me Run” has Keith Richards on lead vocals and contains the lyrics “booze and pills and powders you can choose your medicine”, enough said about that one. They also cover the Temptations soft and soulful song “Just My Imagination” and they managed to sandwich it between a song about twinks (“When the Whip Comes Down”) and a lightening speed punk flavored song called “Lies”. Compared to the Temptations song about love and finding the right woman to marry and raise a family with, “Lies” is the opposite. “Lies” is song about a guy who is pissed off at a lying, no good prostitute who is threatening his marriage. “Respectable” has the same flavor as “Lies” and paints a picture of a crazy, groupie slut. The song “Respectable” references, porn, heroin the President and fucking on the White House lawn. Did the Woman’s Liberation movement have anything to say about it? Maybe they did, but nothing happened. The Stones got away with it again.

The theme here is becoming redundant but if you look up the lyrics to the whole album “Some Girls” you will see that the Rolling Stones were great at trickery. The biggest piece of magic about this record is that three hit singles came off the record and the rest of the material sort of snuck into place without a peep (muddy vocals in all). “Some Girls” as an album can be summed up by the lyrics in the song “Shattered” in where Jagger screams, “Go ahead bite the big apple, don’t mind the maggots”. The songs and attitude of “Some Girls” channels Petty’s statement from earlier loud and clear. This album is not nice because playing it safe was just not in the rock and roll manifesto. I wish rock music was fun and dangerous as it once was but these days you would never get away with it.



Tom Petty 1950-2017


Sonny Vitkauskas 10/17


Tag Baker

2 Responses to The Joup Friday Album: The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
  1. sonny vitkauskas Reply

    Thanks Shawn. I was not around for that late 70s NY scene as you know but the imagery and my understanding of that era was something that captivated me later in my teen years in the early 90s, especially through books, videos and cinema. This record is not my number one but it is the most daring and well rounded record they ever released. They were trying to stay relevant as a band and I think they proved their place in the musical landscape at that time. They were punk rock before the label even existed and they made that fact clear on Some Girls.

  2. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    Great write-up, as usual Sonny. Some Girls will always be in my top 3 Stones records. I wasn’t in NY at the time, nor of an age to appreciate it if I had been, but they really capture and convey that feeling here. You can see how much influence their detailing of it as a certified ‘era’ of America had on cinema that came immediately after, Scorsese especially.

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