Readers' Poll: The Rolling Stones' 10 Greatest Songs - Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: The Rolling Stones’ 10 Greatest Songs

Your picks include ‘Wild Horses,’ ‘Tumbling Dice’ and ‘Paint It, Black’

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The Rolling Stones roared back to life this past week with a pair of shows in Paris, and that's just the beginning of their huge 50th anniversary plans. Right now, only two London and two Newark, New Jersey, shows are on the books, but all signs point to a ton more on the horizon. They're likely to even include former bandmates Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman in some capacity.

We figured this was a good time to poll our readers and determine their favorite Rolling Stones songs. As expected, the feedback was overwhelming. Click through to see the results. 

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3. ‘Paint It, Black’

By 1966, the Rolling Stones were writing songs at a furious pace. On "Paint It, Black," the band decided to stretch their legs a little bit by incorporating a sitar, even though some critics said it was them merely aping the Beatles. The dark track became their third Number One hit in America. The unexpected success forced the group to add it to the American release of Aftermath. Bill Wyman has long claimed he helped a great deal in writing the song, even though it's credited to Jagger/Richards.

Years later, the group started to agree with him. "I must say in retrospect that actually, what made 'Paint It, Black' was Bill Wyman on the organ," Richards said in 2004. "It didn't sound anything like the finished record until Bill said, 'You go like this.'"

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2. ‘Sympathy for the Devil’

There's not a lot of video of the Rolling Stones in the recording studio during their heyday but thankfully, filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard was filming the band when they cut "Sympathy for the Devil" at Olympic Studio in 1968. "The song turned after many takes from a Dylanesque, rather turgid folk song into a rocking samba," Keith wrote in his memoir. "From a turkey to a hit – by a shift in rhythm, all recorded in stages by Jean-Luc."

One of the original lyrics was "Who killed Kennedy?" but midway through taping, Robert F. Kennedy was killed and Jagger changed it to "Who killed the Kennedys?" Contrary to widespread belief, this is not the song they were playing onstage at Altamont when a fan was murdered. (It was "Under My Thumb.") 

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1. ‘Gimme Shelter’

In the end, this wasn't even a close contest: "Gimme Shelter" won by over 100 votes. The opening number from Let It Bleed, "Gimme Shelter" was never released as a single – but over the decades, it's been used in so many soundtracks and been played on the radio so many times, it's become one of their most well-known songs. Jagger himself says the track is a "end-of-the-world song," and the apocalyptic overtones are hard to miss.

The selling point of the song may well be backing vocalist Merry Clayton, who howls "Rape, murder/ It's just a shot away" over and over. Martin Scorsese is so infatuated with the song that he's used in three movies: Goodfellas, Casino and The Departed. Perhaps realizing it was in enough Scorsese films already, the Stones opted not to play it at the Beacon Theater gigs the director chronicled in the movie Shine a Light

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