The Rolling Stones have embarked on yet another massive world tour, though it will sadly be without their legendary drummer, the late Charlie Watts who passed earlier this year. The band was planning to head out on tour without Watts before his passing, and as they continue to do press in the wake of live shows, attention is slowly turning to other historical elements of the band’s lengthy career.
One subject, in particular, is their song “Brown Sugar,” which sounds quite a bit different in 2021 than it might’ve back when the band wrote it. Some of their members have recognized this and made adjustments, others… have not. In an interview with pop critic Mikael Wood of The Los Angeles Times spoke with the band about the subject. Woods brings up the fact that the band hasn’t been playing the tune, noting the opening line “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields.”
Here’s Keith Richard’s response: “You picked up on that, huh? I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is. Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it. At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this sh*t. But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track.
Mick Jagger, though, takes a slightly different tack on the subject, skipping over any racial elements. “We’ve played ‘Brown Sugar’ every night since 1970, so sometimes you think, ‘We’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes. We might put it back in. The set list in a stadium show, it’s kind of a tough one. We did ‘Let It Bleed’ last night, which I managed to play on 12-string guitar.”
There’s a screenshot below if you can’t get past the paywall:
Regarding the conspicuous absence of “Brown Sugar” in the Stones current set lists, Mick is diplomatic and Keith is decidedly not. pic.twitter.com/dNMisEXiPu
— Stephen Thomas Erlewine (@sterlewine) October 7, 2021