Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have announced the Rolling Stones will quit playing hit tune Brown Sugar, amid discomfort about the 50-year-old classic’s references to slavery.
The group, which is currently on the road for a 13 date US tour, haven’t played Brown Sugar, one of their most recognisable tunes, since kicking off in St Louis on September 26.
According to Rolling Stones magazine, the 1969 song has been a staple of their live show since it came out 50 years ago, and is the second most played tune in their inventory after Jumpin’ Jack Flash, with 1,136 known performances.
The last time the Stones played it live was August 30, 2019, at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.
Asked about the song’s absence from their recent setlists, they said they had chosen to give the song a break.
Mick Jagger said that they’d played Brown Sugar every night since 1970, so they thought they would take that one out for now and see how it goes, but that they might put it back in.
Keith Richards, who penned the number with Mick Jagger during a 1969 recording session at the famed Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, said he was taken aback by the recent discomfort about the lyrics, since it was always a grotesque story about slavery, rape and sexual violence.
Keith Richards, 77, that he was attempting to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef was, and that didn’t they realise that the song was about the horrors of slavery? And he said that they were trying to hide it and that at moment he didn’t want to get into conflicts with all this nonsense.
But he was hoping that they’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the road.
The song has been controversial from the start, and the ensemble has frequently attempted to tone down the lyrics.
It was formerly titled Black P****, but Mick Jagger decided before releasing it that the name was too nitty-gritty.
The original phrasing was Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good? Ah, got me feelin’ now for brown sugar, just like a black girl should.
The band, in later recordings, exchanged the words black girl for young girl.
Mick Jagger explained in an interview back in 1995 that he was uncomfortable with the lyrics.
Although there doesn’t seem any point in not playing the song now, it’s been going for 50 years, and I’m sure countless people will still carry on playing the song, and they will play it loud, it’s called Freedom of Speech.
Sometimes we have to play songs to understand history and we shouldn’t glaze over history to understand the past, and we need those first-hand accounts before it’s too late.
But everyone’s being kept on their toes, and that when people open their mouths they should be mindful not to say anything offensive, and what better and quicker way to do this than quelling the arts, music, cinema, statues and literature.
And erasing the past creates a future built on nothing but deception and delusion. You can rip down the statues, change the lyrics of every song, but history is history whether right or wrong.
However, the Rolling Stones are getting a tad old now, and perhaps they should change their band name to the Strolling Bones, but slavery is the last thing I would have thought about when hearing this magnificent song.
But people seem to want to cancel history, cancel movies, cancel songs, cancel words, cancel food et cetera, but history will always remain because we can’t change that.