In looking for a song for this week, I had to find one that truly rocked. And few Stones songs rock harder than "When the Whip Comes Down" from Some Girls. Recorded in 1977 in Paris, the song tells the story of a young gay man who leaves LA for New York City and ends up walking the streets, and some have interpreted the lyrics as suggesting him also possibly holding a day job as a garbage man (though I tend to interpret the garbage language as oblique references to life as a gay hustler).
Yeah I go to 53rd Street and they spit in my face
But I'm learning the ropes, yeah, I'm learning a trade
The East River truckers is churning with trash
I've got so much money but I spend it so fast.
Yeah, some call me garbage when I'm sweeping up the street
But I never roll and I never cheat
And I'm filling a need, yeah, I'm plugging a hole
My mama's so glad I ain't on the dole.
Pretty edgy stuff for 1978 even by the Stones standards. Though for me the glory of the song is the full on punk-inspired rock and Charlie Watts' relentless beat.
They have preformed this one live regularly through the years with many great versions out there including some recent ones. Here's a particularly blistering vintage version from 1978, three guitars blazing, demonstrating why they earned the title "The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band":