This week’s Soundtrack of Our Lives deconstructed the Number One hit forty years ago this week — the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women.”
On tonight’s finale of American Idol, Susan Boyle —the 48-year old Scottish spinster who is Paul Potts’ successor as the latest Simon Crowell cynically-supplied unprepossessing feelgood superstar— will premiere her new single, which is a rather affectless, but not entirely unworthy, cover of the Stones’ superb 1971 song “Wild Horses.”
“Wild Horses” was a track on the Sticky Fingers album. Rolling Stone selects it as #334 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time:
Richards wrote this acoustic ballad about leaving his wife Anita and young son Marlon as the Stones prepared for their first American tour in three years. Stones sidekick Ian Stewart refused to play the minor chords required, so Memphis musical maverick Jim Dickinson filled in on upright piano at the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, recording session for Sticky Fingers.
Here’s the original; and here’s the Boyle cover:
Among my candidates for the Greatest Stones Cover of All Time is Franco Battiato’s 2000 rendition of the 1967 classic “Ruby Tuesday.” “RT,” which was on the Between the Buttons LP, outranks “Horses” at Number 303 on the RS 500:
At a session for Between the Buttons in November 1966, Richards drew this lyrical sketch of Linda Keith, his first serious girlfriend, and turned it into an uncharacteristically wistful ballad. Brian Jones played the recorder on the track, giving the song a madrigal feel. The countermelody was played by Bill Wyman, who fingered the strings on a cello while Richards bowed them.
Battiato is a fascinating Italian anomaly, whose long and checkered career has included several productive collaborations — including one with another favorite, Alice. I find this sleekly accented eclectic account of the song completely compelling and even intermittently convincing.
Here’s the original; and here’s the Battiato cover: