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100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs

5

"You Can’t Always Get What You Want" (1969)


The Rolling Stones
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
5/100

On the final track of their last album of the Sixties, the Stones delivered the shotgun lesson of that decade with bittersweet flair: Everything was possible, and it all came at a price. They were at a new creative peak and preparing to return to the road. But Richards was using heroin; Jagger's girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull, had suffered a miscarriage; and Jones was all but gone. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" was "basically all Mick," Richards admitted. The singer turned that turmoil into a witty evocation of universal disillusionment countered by the practical hope in the chorus and a sumptuous R&B arrangement: the entrance of the London Bach Choir, arranged by Jack Nitzsche; guest pianist Al Kooper's regal contribution on French horn; and the pushing shuffle in the drums, played by producer Jimmy Miller. "It was," Richards crowed, "a beautiful juxtaposition" – just like the Sixties.


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