Friday, January 31, 2014

Rolling Stones Friday - Salt of the Earth

On many days I would say that Beggars Banquet is my favorite Stones album. It's a remarkably original work, one very much reflecting the chaos of 1968, yet timeless in its startlingly fresh sound and ambitious musicality.

And while Beggars Banquet had its share of hits ("Sympathy For the Devil", "Street Fighting Man"), today we're going to feature this truly classic album's closer, "Salt of the Earth":  

Brian Jones' drug habit left him out of most of the recording, which required Keith Richards to pick up the slack. Richards' acoustic guitar work throughout Beggars Banquet is outstanding, but nowhere more striking than on "Salt of the Earth", also just the 2nd Stones song to date then where Richards took the lead on at least a share of the vocals.

The lyrics on the surface praise the working man, hardly a unique topic in rock and roll. But the song is far more effective and memorable for the Stones' realization that their superstardom has left them at a disquieting distance from the tough daily lives of the masses:

Say a prayer for the common foot soldier; 
Spare a thought for his back breaking work....

And when I search a faceless crowd  
A swirling mass of grey and black and white
They don't look real to me 
In fact, they look so strange  

The song has rarely been performed live, but here's a truly heartfelt and terrific duet performed by Jagger and Richards at the immediately post-9/11 New York City benefit for the victims and first responders:

We will certainly come back to Beggars Banquet on some subsequent Friday later this year.

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