Rolling Stones forced to retire classic song
British rock band The Rolling Stones have decided to retire one of their most popular songs due to its unsavoury lyrics.
The 1971 hit Brown Sugar had been cut from their current tour’s setlist, which had previously been the second-most-performed song in their catalogue.
After succumbing to social pressure, the track was pulled from their live shows, as the lyrics allude to the horrors of slavery in the US, which has caused a stir during the current climate of heightened cultural sensitivity.
Keith Richards, 77, was quizzed by the LA Times about the changes to the setlist, saying, “You picked up on that, huh?”
He said, “I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is. Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it.”
The first verse of the hit song depicts slaves being sold and beaten in Louisiana, with references to a “slaver” who whips “women just around midnight.”
The famous chorus describes a non-consensual sexual encounter between a young female slave and the violent master, while also alluding to the use of heroin.
In the next verse, the song describes the abuse suffered by slaves on a plantation. Lead singer Mick Jagger ends the tune by singing, “How come you taste so good … just like a black girl should.”
“We’ve played Brown Sugar every night since 1970,” Richards told the newspaper.
“So sometimes you think, ‘We’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes.’ We might put it back in.”
According to setlist.fm, the controversial track has been played live 1136 times, second only to Jumpin’ Jack Flash.
“At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this s***,” Richards said of criticism of the song. “But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track.”
Mick Jagger has also previously shared his own criticisms of the song, as critics have called it “gross, sexist, and stunningly offensive.”
“I never would write that song now,” Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995. “I would probably censor myself. I’d think, ‘Oh God, I can’t. I’ve got to stop. I can’t just write raw like that.’”
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