100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs

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

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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