Song of the Day #3,797: ‘Waiting On a Friend’ – The Rolling Stones

As I look at ten celebrated albums of 1981, I’ll highlight some I don’t know at all and some with which I have passing familiarity.

The Rolling Stones’ Tattoo You falls into the second category. I’ve done my share of dipping into The Stones’ catalog, with most of my focus on the remarkable period between 1966 and 1972 (regardless of your opinion of the band, it’s hard to deny the sustained creative excellence of that stretch). The latest Stones album I know well is 1978’s Some Girls.

But 1981’s Tattoo You deserves consideration as a solid second-tier Rolling Stones album. This was the eighth straight album of theirs to reach #1 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and the last. In fact, the band has released only seven studio albums in the ensuing 37 years, making Tattoo You truly an era-ending release.

Appropriately, the albums’ tracklist is made up almost entirely of older material that hadn’t found a place on earlier records. The band reworked those early recordings, adding new vocals and overdubs. The tracks are split between one side of bluesy rockers and another of bluesy ballads.

Everything here is quite good, but the album’s highlights are its bookends. The big hit ‘Start Me Up’ kicks things off with a bawdy jolt, and ‘Waiting On a Friend’ closes with a gentle shuffle and an ode to the band members’ friendships with each other.

Watching girls go passing by
It ain’t the latest thing
I’m just standing in a doorway
I’m just trying to make some sense

Out of these girls go passing by
The tales they tell of men
I’m not waiting on a lady
I’m just waiting on a friend

A smile relieves a heart that grieves
Remember what I said
I’m not waiting on a lady
I’m just waiting on a friend
I’m just waiting on a friend
I’m just waiting on a friend
Just waiting on a friend

{Bridge}

Don’t need a whore
I don’t need no booze
Don’t need a virgin priest
But I need someone I can cry to
I need someone to protect

Making love and breaking hearts
It is a game for youth
But I’m not waiting on a lady
I’m just waiting on a friend
I’m just waiting on a friend

Just waiting on a friend…

One thought on “Song of the Day #3,797: ‘Waiting On a Friend’ – The Rolling Stones

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    It was hard to avoid this album or the Stones in 1981. The videos for “Start Me Up” and this song were on heavy rotation on MTV and on the radio. The Stones also did a massive tour to support the record. Though I was not a big Stones fan, it was hard not to be drawn in at the time,

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