Friday, November 21, 2014

Rolling Stones Friday: Sweet Black Angel


The Rolling Stones, while heavily influenced by and certainly adept at capturing the tumult of the late 1960's, were not an overtly political band. They tended to delve in the personal and avoid sweeping political statements.

This context makes "Sweet Black Angel", recorded in various forms during 1970-72 and finally released on Exile on Main Street in 1972, all the more remarkable. It is a tribute to American civil rights activist Angela Davis (photo above), a university professor who was charged with murder and conspiracy in the 1970 armed take-over of a Marin County California courtroom in which four persons died.

I love the feel and vibe of this song, especially the marimba and percussions played by Charlie Watts, producer Jimmy Miller and Richard "Didymus" Washington.

The lyrics of "Sweet Black Angel", garbled by Jagger with an exaggerated Southern twang, include:

For a judge's murder
In a judge's court
Now de judge he gonna judge her
For all dat he's worth

Well the gal in danger
The gal in chains
But she keep on pushin'
Would you do the same?

She countin' up the minutes
She countin' up the days
She's a sweet black angel
Not a gun toting teacher

Not a red lovin' school Mom
Ain't someone gonna free her?
Free the sweet black slave
Free the sweet black slave

Here's the song:

Angela Davis went on to become a professor at UC Santa Cruz, publish books, lecture all over the world on various social justice issues, and be an outspoken advocate against what she refers to as the "prison-industrial complex." The Rolling Stones went on to record "It's Only Rock 'n Roll" and "Fool to Cry".  

1 comment:

Danny Sandock said...

a cool percussive song making "a statement"