The Rolling Stones Riff Keith Richard Said Could “Last A Lifetime”

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It’s Monday, so spare us a moment to look back on a Rolling Stones classic.

Released into a tumultuous political climate dominated by opposition to the Vietnam War, ‘Street Fighting Man’ is for many fans the British rockers’ apex. A stunning, bravura performance, it was hailed as an instant classic on its release in 1968, tapping into the yer’s unsettling climate of youthful revolt and counter culture rebellion.

Initially part of ‘Beggars Banquet’, the band’s Stateside label chose to release it was a single, sparking opposition from some radio stations. Penned in the aftermath of the Grosvenor Square anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, it questions the role of music in such divisive times.

As guitarist Keith Richards once told NPR, however, ‘Street Fighting Man’ also has a riff that could “last a lifetime”. He said: “You had this very electric sound, but at the same time, you had that curious and beautiful ring that only an acoustic guitar can give you…”

The track is also a showcase of drummer Charlie Watts’ musicality, helped to blend the hurricane of noise together. Keith Richards reflected: “Charlie stuck with me on this track,” he said. “I’m the rhythm player. I’m not a virtuoso soloist or anything like that. To work together with the drummer, that’s my joy. This record, to me, is one of the examples of what can happen when two cats believe in each other.”

‘Street Fighting Man’ was recorded during a period of change for the band. Founder Brian Jones had become wayward, losing his abilities to his chemical dependencies; as a result, The Rolling Stones would focus more on a straight-forward rock arrangement.

Keith told Rolling Stone in 1971: “The basic track of that was done on a mono cassette with very distorted recording, on a Philips with no limiters. Brian is playing sitar, it twangs away. He’s holding notes that wouldn’t come through if you had a board, you wouldn’t be able to fit it in. But on a cassette if you just move the people, it does. Cut in the studio and then put on a tape. Started putting percussion and bass on it. That was really an electronic track, up in the realms.”

Check out ‘Street Fighting Man’ below.

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