Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ruby Tuesday by The Rolling Stones

When The Beatles released “Yesterday” in 1965, pop ballads were unusual. However the success of Paul McCartney’s introspective masterpiece opened the doors for rock stars to show a different side of them which has become a standard practice. The following year, the Beatles continued recording slower songs like “In My Life,” a beautiful and affirming song of devotion.

That next year, the Rolling Stones released their most enduring ballad “Ruby Tuesday” and instead of reflecting on the life-affirming power of love, the Stones told the story of a groupie.

Comparisons between the Rolling Stones and the Beatles reveal much about the two groups. These groups reflected two sides of a coin, two perspectives on reality. Characterized more as bad boys, the Rolling Stones’ music had a darkness around it while the Beatles had a glow. While the Beatles for the most part reflected idealized views of love and life, the Rolling Stone described the darker realities of human emotion.

Starting with Mick Jagger’s voice at the beginning of the song with no introduction, “Ruby Tuesday” immediately draws you in. The sound of a cello, which was played by Richards and Wyman, and piano creates a barren and lonely musical landscape as Jagger sings ominous words “yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone.”

A recorder, played by Brian Jones (the only deceased member of the Rolling Stones) dances around adding a folk like touch to this song and the song blossoms open in the chorus.

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday,
Who could hang a name on you,
When you change with every new day,
Still I’m going to miss you.

Even though this is a girl that no one could figure out and seemed to change with every day, Jagger sings how he’s going to miss he which is why this song is so powerful. People come and go in life and most of these relationships are imperfect. Even though there are things that may annoy us about these people, we still miss them when they are gone.

Beautifully poetic and intriguing lines like “lose your dreams and you will lose your mind” make us pause. Jagger’s haunting voice filled with regret, foreboding and love forces us to listen. And the unique musical atmosphere of this song stays with us long after the song is over like the feeling a memory that you can’t remember.

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