Sunday, February 18, 2007
The Rolling Stones intense We Love You is one of their great A-sides and also one of their most unknown. Peaking at just 50 upon its 1967 release in the States and only available on a small number of Stones collections, it remains one of their strangest and most personal works.
1967 had been an incredibly hard year for The Rolling Stones. Decreased record sales, the failing health of Brian Jones who would be dead within a year, drugs and the arrest of Keith, Mick and Marianne Faithfull had sent the band into a darkening downward spiral.
We Love You was recorded quickly, following the release of Mick and Keith from jail, after a particularly messy trial. From the opening sound of the jail cell door closing to the psychotic psychedelic sound that would prove so influential, We Love You is one of the most uncommon and uncompromising Stones singles. It's strange lyrics seemed to thank their fans and supporters but a deeper look reveals a bitter anti-establishment stab at the British government and authorities.
The Who had began covering Rolling Stones songs as singles as a protest to the arrests of Jagger and Richards and they weren't alone in feeling like the Stones were being made examples of. The Beatles were paying particular attention and if you listen close you can hear Lennon and McCartney singing background throughout We Love You.
The single would serve as notice to The Stones next album, the controversial and poorly received Their Satanic Majesties Request. Majesties has since gone on to influence countless bands ranging from Sonic Youth to The Flaming Lips. A band like Brian Jonestown Massacre and singer Miranda Lee Richardson would be unthinkable without Majesties dark and evil sounding psychedelia.
The b-side of We Love You, Dandelion, is another one of the Stones great moments and has become a much better known song. Dandelion would prove to be one of the lighter and more sublime moments on The Satanic Majesties Request and has appeared on countless best of collections. Keith Richards likes the song so much that he even named one of his children after it.
1968 would see The Stones making an impressive comeback, with the astonishing one-two punch of Jumping Jack Flash and Beggar's Banquet. 68 would mark the beginning of a five year run in which The Stones would lay to waste every other band in the world and would live up to their title as the greatest rock band ever.
Some of their most interesting music though would be made in their darkest year of 1967 when seemingly the world was against them. The We Love You/Dandelion 45 is a tribute to the power of the single and a reminder of just how experimental and audacious The Stones can be.