Album: Tattoo You
. . .
Tattoo You was, of course, divided into “fast” and “slow” sides, the first half being mostly uptempo rockers — with the exception of mid-tempo groove “Slave” which compensated by having big big guitars. And naturally in 1981, rockboy Jim preferred side one to side two, but sometime in the last 40 years, that’s switched, and now I think that side two of Tattoo You has three of their greatest slow ones ever, starting with the opening song, “Worried About You.”
“Worried About You” was originally recorded for Black and Blue, but left off in favor of “Memory Motel” and “Fool To Cry,” maybe thinking that it would have been one ballad too many on a record that had a shortage of balls-out rockers.
Obviously, no such problem on Tattoo You, especially given that if you didn’t like the ballads, you didn’t have to flip the record over! And maybe some people didn’t, who knows? I did, and while the ones that initially struck me were “Heaven” and “Waiting on a Friend,” I think that “Worried About You” might be the best song on the album. Might be.
Starting off with Mick Jagger singing in falsetto over his own electric piano, Keith’s chipping electric guitar, Charlie’s hi-hat and a Bill Wyman bassline that leaves plenty of space, “Worried About You” describes a relationship in trouble:
Sometime I wonder why
You do these things to me
Sometime I worry girl
That you ain’t in love with me
Sometime I stay out late
Yeah, I’m having fun
Yes, I guess you know by now
That you ain’t the only one
It could be about a girl, or it could be about Keith. Either way, it’s a slow burn, Charlie sliding into a beat so subtle that you don’t even notice, as they build into the chorus.
Because I’m worried
I just can’t seem to find my way
Some cool things going on here: Keith joins in on the backing vocals as dropping out of the falsetto into his “regular” voice and then, as everybody else basically stops, kicking back into the falsetto for one last “baaaaayyyy-bayyy!” It’s absolutely gorgeous.
Then after the second chorus, there’s an absolutely thrilling guitar solo played by
Keith Richards Ron Wood Wayne Perkins, who sounded like he was playing for his life, or at least his career: remember, this was during the Black and Blue sessions when they were auditioning guitarists, and he makes an absolutely stellar case for himself to replace Mick Taylor.
That, of course, is exactly what they didn’t want, which somehow adds extra poignancy to the solo: it might never have seen the light of day in different circumstances.
Mick follows the solo singing the third verse not in the falsetto, but rather in his “regular” voice, the whole band now chugging along with him, and after another chorus and breakdown, he just repeats variations on “I’m worried about you” with Keith singing backgrounds as the band builds and builds and builds into last long chorus which ends the song.
Even though they made a video for it, I think that “Worried About You” is one of the great lost Stones ballads, gorgeous and soulful in a way that very few bands could pull off, though they did return to it on a few tours in the 2000s.
“Worried About You” official music video
“Worried About You” live in Buenos Aries, 2006
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