So how does a young singer from London become so convincing a soul, R&B and even country vocalist? In the case of Mick Jagger, he learns from the best - Arthur Alexander. For those of you not familiar with Arthur Alexander, his work is essential (his best of compilation is an absolute must own CD). Mick's phrasing and vocal style in 1964 and still today are straight up Arthur Alexander.
Very early in their career, The Rolling Stones released a faithful and tremendous cover of one of Alexander's best songs "You Better Move On". Here is a terrific live version from 1964:
But you must listen to the Arthur Alexander original, recorded in 1961, which not only introduced Alexander but helped establish FAME Studios and the city of Memphis as the artistic center of R&B music:
And speaking of great singers, here's the George Jones version of "You Better Move On" from 1980 (backed by Johnny Paycheck):
Arthur Alexander never got his due, and ended up working as bus driver at one point, though he enjoyed a very brief comeback before dying of a heart attack in 1993 at the age of 53. But he will forever be the only songwriter in history to have been covered on studio recordings by the Rolling Stones ("You Better Move On"), The Beatles ("Anna") and Bob Dylan ("Sally Sue Brown" on 1988's Down in the Groove).
We'll leave you with a bonus track today, another of my favorite Arthur Alexander songs, "Soldier or Love (Lay Down Your Arms)" beautifully covered by Marshall Crenshaw on his 1982 debut, followed by the Arthur Alexander original: