The Rolling Stones have released the brand-new song “Living in a Ghost Town” to tide fans over until they’re able to reschedule the upcoming leg of their No Filter tour.
It’s their first original composition since “Doom and Gloom” and “One More Shot” came out on their 2012 compilation album GRRR!, although they did put out the blues cover collection Blues & Lonesome in 2016.
In a new interview with Zane Lowe of Apple Music, Jagger said he wrote the song with Keith Richards over a year ago. “It wasn’t written for now, but it was just one of those odd things,” he said. “It was written about being in a place which was full of life but is now bereft of life so to speak…I was just jamming on the guitar and wrote it really quickly in like 10 minutes.”
The Stones were in the studio recording new material before the lockdown & one song – Living In A Ghost Town – we thought would resonate through the times we’re living in. It’s out at 5pm BST today and you can hear the track and interview on @Beats1 now! https://t.co/MkrRESZwY6 pic.twitter.com/4rHPctkwws
— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) April 23, 2020
He changed some of the lyrics to reflect the times. “Keith Richards and I both had the idea that we should release it,” he said. “But I said, ‘Well I’ve got to rewrite it.’ Some of it is not going to work and some of it was a bit weird and a bit too dark. So I slightly rewrote it. I didn’t have to rewrite very much, to be honest. It’s very much how I originally did it.”
The Stones have been slowly picking away at a new album for the past few years. Richards told Lowe that this song was recorded at a Los Angeles studio in early 2019. “It’s sort of eerie when suddenly it’s coming to life,” he said. “I mean the ghost comes to life… I had said to Don [Was] about a month or so ago, ‘Hey, this is a time for the ghost town track.’ And then Mick called me and said the same thing and that great minds think alike.”
The band hasn’t released an album of new material since 2005’s A Bigger Bang. “I don’t just want it to be a good album, I want it to be great,” Jagger said. “I’m very hard on myself. If I write something or if I write something with Keith Richards or whatever, it’s going to be great. It can’t just be good.”
The Stones’ focus in the past two decades has been on touring. Their 2019 No Filter North American stadium tour was an enormous success and they planned on repeating it this summer in markets they missed, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to postpone everything until some undetermined point in the future.
“We don’t know when the next tour outside’s going to be,” Jagger told Lowe. “You would imagine that playing outside would be more healthy than playing inside, one would imagine, but you don’t know. And people are saying, ‘Well are you going to be playing in a stadium that’s 40,000 people? You’re going to have 20,000 people in there,’ for instance. But this is all in the realm of conjecture.”
The one bit of good Stones news in the middle of all this, however, is that Jagger and Richards have plenty of extra time on their hands now. “We’ve got another five or six tracks and there’s a lot of sort of soul feel about it for some reason without anybody intending to,” Richards said. “Obviously right now we’ve got nothing else to do but write some more songs, right?”