100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs

Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns9/100

9. "Wild Horses" (1971)

"Songs written by two people are better than those written by one," Richards said in 2002. This is a perfect, heartbreaking example of that sentiment. The chorus was Richards', written to his infant son, Marlon, as the Stones set off for their 1969 U.S. tour. "The interesting thing," Richards noted, "is what you say to someone else, even to Mick, who knows me real well: 'See what you make out of that.' " Jagger turned to the complicated emotions in his relationship with Marianne Faithfull. The song's pining country grace reflected Richards' new friendship with Georgia native Gram Parsons, who cut "Wild Horses" with the Flying Burrito Brothers and issued it first, with the Stones' blessing. But the Stones' recording, at Muscle Shoals in Alabama, near the end of the '69 tour, reflected Jagger and Richards' deeper empathy – "together with the fifth of bourbon, passing it back and forth, and [singing] the lead and the harmony into one microphone," Jim Dickinson, the pianist on the session, recalled. In short, two as one.

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