Song of the Day #718: ‘Torn & Frayed’ – The Rolling Stones

Every so often, the entertainment industry seizes on an anniversary as an excuse to roll out a new version of some classic album or movie, prompting all of the entertainment magazines and websites to launch their own retrospectives. No doubt it is all in the interest of making a lot of money off of a gullible public’s nostalgia.

And I’m here to say that it’s a wonderful thing.

Last year it was The Beatles CD reissues, which weren’t even tied to an anniversary but rather to the release of the Rock Band video game featuring the Fab Four’s music. I, like millions of other fans, plopped down lots of money to buy up new versions of albums I already owned because these sounded a whole lot better.

But it wasn’t just about the sound. It was about the opportunity to experience Beatlemania again (for the Boomers) or for the first time (for my generation and the ones that have followed). It was an excuse to listen to and dissect all of the classic albums I’d obsessed over years ago and appreciate the artistry and the trivia behind each of them.

If some fat cats got fatter on the proceeds, so be it. I was happy to oblige.

And this summer it’s The Rolling Stones’ turn, with a deluxe reissue of their classic Exile on Main Street hitting shelves 38 years after its initial release. I’m not sure what’s behind the timing… couldn’t they have held out for 40? But again, it’s an opportunity to revisit a transcendent work.

In this case they didn’t even make any money off of me. I’ve just enjoyed the magazine and Internet articles about the writing and recording of Exile. I’ve dusted off my own copy and found myself nodding in agreement with those who describe this as the quintessential rock-and-roll album.

The album was recorded in Keith Richard’s temporary home in France, a villa called Nellcôte with a haunted past. The band left England to avoid a tax debt and wound up spending months at the French estate awash in booze, broads and drugs… while somehow managing to put out one of the greatest albums in history.

Exile on Main Street is notable for its sound more than anything — that dirty groove that practically makes you smell the alcohol through the speakers. But it contains some of the band’s finest songs as well, including ‘Tumbling Dice,’ ‘Rocks Off,’ ‘All Down the Line,’ ‘Shine a Light’ and ‘Sweet Virginia.’ Another favorite is ‘Torn & Frayed,’ today’s SOTD, which Mick Jagger reportedly wrote about Keith Richards.

Hey let him follow you down
Way underground wind and he’s bound

Bound to follow you down
Just a dead beat right off the street
Bound to follow you down

Well the ballrooms and smelly bordellos
And pissing rooms filled with parasites
On stage the band has got problems
They’re a bag of nerves on first nights

He ain’t tied down to no home town
Yeah, and he thought he was wreckless
You think he’s bad, he thinks you’re mad
Yeah, and the guitar player gets restless

And his coat is torn and frayed
It’s seen much better days
Just as long as the guitar plays
Let it steal your heart away
Let it steal your heart away

Joe’s got a cough, sounds kind a rough
Yeah, and the codeine to fix it
Doctor prescribes, drug store supplies
Who’s gonna help him to kick it

Well his coat is torn and frayed
It`s seen much better days
Just as long as the guitar plays
Let it steal your heart away
Let it steal your heart away

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #718: ‘Torn & Frayed’ – The Rolling Stones

  1. Dana says:

    I have to admit that I have never been much of a Rolling Stones fan, perhaps because I don’t generally get into their quintessential raw and gritty sound. Of course, they have made so much music and not all of it qualifies as raw and gritty, and it is those less raw and gritty songs that I tend to like far better.

    I have to also admit that I have never sat down and listened to Exile on Main Street, probably because of the very admission I made above. I know “Tumbling Dice” as this was the hit from the album and I like it well enough, although it would not be listed amongst my favorite Stones songs.

    Today’s SOTD is decent, but I can’t say it’s anything all that special.

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