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The Rolling Stones’ main songwriters have always been Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Together, and with others, they have written some iconic tracks, one of which is the famous You Can’t Always Get What You Want. But what do the lyrics mean, and who is the song about?
In Dora Loewenstein’s book, According to the Rolling Stones, Sir Mick explained what the song meant to him, and how it came about.
Despite only singing on stage, he revealed he used his guitar skills to come up with the song after all.
He said: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want was something I just played on the acoustic guitar—one of those bedroom songs.
“It proved to be quite difficult to record because Charlie [Watts, the drummer] couldn’t play the groove and so Jimmy Miller had to play the drums.
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“I’d also had this idea of having a choir, probably a gospel choir, on the track, but there wasn’t one around at that point.
“Jack Nitzsche, or somebody, said that we could get the London Bach Choir and we said, ‘That will be a laugh.’”
Jack, the man mentioned as a potential booker for the choir, was a producer who at the time was working with Phil Spector, another famous producer who is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson.
As for the song itself, Jack was able to get the choir involved, and the London Bach Choir performed alongside the band at the Olympic Sound Studio on November 17, 1968.
The three verses, as well as the fourth verse which is structured a little differently, speak of the excitement of an event, or an idea.
However, as the verse continues, the idea goes wrong, or reality sets in and the optimism is shattered until the chorus tells fans You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
In the song, themes such as love, politics, drugs and death, even with what seems like a murder taking place in the final verse.
The song became pretty famous recently when it was played at Donald Trump’s victory party when he was named the US president in 2016.
Mr Trump had previously played their songs at rallies during his campaign, which had not been received well by the band.
The band issued a statement during these first instances, saying: “The Rolling Stones have never given permission to the Trump campaign to use their songs and have requested that they cease all use immediately.”
However, after this song was played at his victory speech Sir Mick put out a tweet, saying: “Just was watching the news… maybe they’ll ask me to sing ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ at the inauguration, ha!”
The band then issued a second statement, saying: “The Rolling Stones do not endorse Donald Trump.
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want was used without the band’s permission.”
According to The Daily Mirror in 2016, the lawyers for each side had been “locked” in a heated battle, and a source confirmed “the row is showing no signs of ending.
“There has been a mass of correspondence between the two parties. Both sides believe they are in the right and neither are refusing to budge.”
According to a press release in July 2020, when Mr Trump used their songs again, it was revealed the band’s legal team were working with BMI to prevent him from being able to play their music at any future political events.
It is not clear what legal action was taken, if any.
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