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Music / Exile on Main St.

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"May the good lord shine a light on you. Make every song your favourite tune."

"I Just Want to See His Face" - that song had a big impact on me, particularly learning how to sing in that high falsetto, the way Jagger does. When he sings like a girl, I go crazy. I said, 'I've got to learn how to do that.' I couldn't really do it until I stopped smoking. That's when it started getting easier to do. [Waits's own] 'Shore Leave' has that, 'All Stripped Down', 'Temptation'. Nobody does it like Mick Jagger; nobody does it like Prince. But this is just a tree of life. This record is the watering hole. Keith Richards plays his ass off. This has the Checkerboard Lounge all over it.
Tom Waits, who put Exile on Main St. at no. 4 in a list of his personal Top 20 favourite albums, published in The Guardian in 2005.

Exile on Main St. is the tenth studio album (twelfth American album) by The Rolling Stones, released in 1972. Despite being divisive back in the day and even among themselves (Keith Richards likes it, Mick Jagger far less) it has been Vindicated by History as one of their best albums. It's frequently listed as one of the greatest albums of all time, and it's the one you're most likely to hear rock critics cite as their best album. It was mainly recorded at Nellcôte in France, with additional recording at Olympic Studios in London and Sunset Sound Recorders in Los Angeles. Hits and fan favourites include "Tumbling Dice", "Rip This Joint", "Happy", "Sweet Virginia", "Rocks Off" and "Shine a Light".

In 2010, Exile was given a remastered deluxe edition featuring a second disc of outtakes and previously unreleased songs.


Time magazine included the album in their 2006 list of 100 timeless and essential albums. and it was listed at #7 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.


Side One

  1. "Rocks Off" (4:31)
  2. "Rip This Joint" (2:22)
  3. "Shake Your Hips" (2:59)
  4. "Casino Boogie" (3:33)
  5. "Tumbling Dice" (3:45)

Side Two

  1. "Sweet Virginia" (4:27)
  2. "Torn and Frayed" (4:17)
  3. "Sweet Black Angel" (2:54)
  4. "Loving Cup" (4:25)

Side Three

  1. "Happy" (3:04)
  2. "Turd on the Run" (2:36)
  3. "Ventilator Blues" (3:24)
  4. "I Just Want to See His Face" (2:52)
  5. "Let It Loose" (5:16)

Side Four

  1. "All Down the Line" (3:49)
  2. "Stop Breaking Down" (4:34)
  3. "Shine a Light" (4:14)
  4. "Soul Survivor" (3:49)


Tracklist (2010 Bonus Disc):

  1. "Pass the Wine (Sophia Loren)"
  2. "Plundered My Soul"
  3. "I'm Not Signifying"
  4. "Following the River"
  5. "Dancing in the Light"
  6. "So Divine (Aladdin Story)"
  7. "Loving Cup (alternate take)"
  8. "Soul Survivor (alternate take)"
  9. "Good Time Woman" note 
  10. "Title 5"
  11. "All Down the Line (Alternate Take)" note 

Principal Members:

  • Mick Jagger - lead vocals, harmonica, guitar, percussion
  • Keith Richards - guitar, backing and lead vocals, piano, bass
  • Mick Taylor - guitar, bass
  • Charlie Watts - drums
  • Bill Wyman - bass

I only get my rocks off while I'm tropin':

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Let It Loose" (also mentioning "bedroom blues"), "Soul Survivor" (which talks about "bell bottom blues"). And who could forget that great line in "Casino Boogie":
    Kissing cunt in Cannes
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: "Sweet Black Angel", about a sweet angelic black woman who is nevertheless:
    Not a sweet black slave.
    Ten little niggers sittin' on de wall,
    Her brothers been a fallin', fallin' one by one.
    For a judge's murder in a judge's court,
    Now de judge he gonna judge her for all dat he's worth.
    Well de gal in danger, de gal in chains,
    But she keep on pushin
  • Break Up Song: "Turd on the Run"
    Diamond rings, vaseline, you give me disease
    Well, I lost a lot of love over you
  • But Now I Must Go: "Tumbling Dice"
    But baby, I can't stay
  • Civil Rights Movement: As mentioned below, "Sweet Black Angel" was written in support of civil rights activist Angela Davis. It is one of the band's few overtly political songs.
  • Country Matters: "Casino Boogie"
    Dietrich movies, close-up boogies
    Kissing cunt in Cannes
  • Cover Version: A couple of old blues songs, Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips" and Robert Johnson's "Stop Breaking Down".
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: "Shake Your Hips", which ought to be taken seriously as it makes girls think the protagonist is blues singer Slim Harpo.
  • Epic Rocking: "Let It Loose" is just over five minutes.
  • Fake Shemp: An essay in the book Kill Your Idols points out that most of the band-members were trotting in and out of rehab during the recording, and that very few of the parts were played by actual Rolling Stones.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: The basic message of "Stop Breaking Down".
  • God-Is-Love Songs: "I Just Want to See His Face"
    You don't want to walk and talk about Jesus
    You just want to see His face
  • Grief Song: "Soul Survivor"
    It's gonna be the death of me
    It's the graveyard watch
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "Turd on the Run". Fitting, since it's basically a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about a former lover.
  • Intercourse with You: "Rocks Off", "Happy", "Loving Cup", and "All Down the Line" all allude to it.
  • Nocturnal Emission: Alluded to in "Rocks Off", whose narrator can "Only get his rocks off when he's dreaming."
  • N-Word Privileges: Averted in "Sweet Black Angel" - see Black Gal on White Guy Drama above. Because the song was in support of civil rights activist Angela Davis, the Stones escaped controversy over it. (Also, the song's aversion of this trope doubles as an allusion to the original title of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, which has been changed in modern printings for obvious reasons.)
  • One-Word Title: "Happy".
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Shine a Light"
    May the good Lord shine a light on you
    Make every song (you sing) your favourite tune
  • Precision F-Strike: Richards ad-libs "I just can't fuck it" in the outro of the alternate take of "Soul Survivor". The album also contains the lines "Got to scrape that shit right off your shoe" in "Sweet Virginia" and "Let it Loose", "They're gonna hold some shit for me" in "Rip This Joint", "Plug in, flush out, and fire the fuckin' feed" in "Rocks Off", and, of course, the use of Country Matters mentioned above.
  • Product Placement: "Happy"
    Never got a lift out of Lear jets
  • Recognition Failure: The protagonist in "Shake Your Hips" is mistaken for blues singer Slim Harpo:
    Well, I met a little girl in a country town
    She said: "What do you know: there's Slim Harpo!"
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Casino Boogie" mentions Marlene Dietrich
      Dietrich movies, close up boogies.
    • "Rip This Joint" references Richard Nixon and his wife Pat
      Dick and Pat in ole D.C.
      Well, they're gonna hold some shit for me
    • "Shine a Light" inspired the Rolling Stones Concert Film of the same name, Shine A Light, directed by Martin Scorsese.
    • "Sweet Black Angel", one of the Stones' few overtly political songs, was written in support of civil rights activist Angela Davis, at the time accused as an accomplice to murder and conspiracy (she would be acquitted on all counts shortly after the release of the album).
    • The outtake "Pass the Wine (Sophia Loren)" kinda speaks for itself.
    • The reference to "bell bottom blues" in "Soul Survivor" is probably a reference to the song of the same name from Derek and the Dominos' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Ventilator Blues" and "I Just Want to See His Face".
  • Something Blues: "Ventilator Blues". "Soul Survivor" talks about "bell bottom blues" and "Let It Loose" also mentions "bedroom blues".
  • Spiritual Successor: Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville is an answer to this record. Try not to think about it too hard, since some of the song counterparts don't make sense. She did give an interview to Rolling Stone where she elaborated on the parallels.
    • "Exile on Mainstream" by Matchbox Twenty is another Shout-Out.
    • Chemlab named the leading track from the album "East Side Militia" "Exile on Mainline".
    • Pussy Galore even covered the entire album in their own style. Phish did the same during a Halloween show in 2009.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Keith Richards sings lead vocals on "Happy" and the alternate take of "Soul Survivor" included on the bonus disc of the remaster.
  • Walking the Earth: "Tumbling Dice"
    "You got to roll me and call me the tumblin' dice"

Alternative Title(s): Exile On Main Street


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