54. "Loving Cup" (1972)
"Loving Cup" closes the first half of Exile, punctuating a tumultuous, ragged half-hour of rock & roll with a shot of mountain-climbing redemption and lyrical warmth. Originally attempted at London's Olympic Studios during the Let It Bleed sessions, then revived and finished in early 1972 in Los Angeles, it's one of several gospel-steeped Exile songs that didn't come out of the band's hazy time at Nellcôte. This may account for its very un-basement-y maximalism: Nicky Hopkins' majestic piano comes on like clouds parting, and the song seems to gather momentum and emotional power as it gathers influences. Jagger goes from self-deprecating come-ons ("I am nitty-gritty and my shirt's all torn/But I would love to spill the beans with you till the dawn") to innocent elation ("Feel your mouth kissing me again/What a beautiful buzz") in a country drawl. The bright soul horns and a backing choir (which probably included an uncredited Gram Parsons) enhance the song's sense of deeply spiritual gratitude.