Top 10 Rolling Stones Songs

The Rolling Stones have long been called the world’s “Greatest Rock & Roll Band” for a few decades now. It was on July 12, 1962 that the “Rollin’ Stones,” whose name was inspired by Muddy Waters’ 1950’s song of the same name, performed as a group for the first time at the Marquee Club in London.

The original group lineup was comprised of Mick Jagger on lead vocals, Brian Jones and Keith Richards on guitars, Bill Wyman on bass guitar, Charlie Watts on drums and Ian Stewart on keyboards. In 1963, after Andrew Loog Oldham became their manager, Ian Stewart became the group’s road manager and occasionally still played piano. After releasing ten successful record albums during the 1960s, Brian Jones was fired during the recording of Let It Bleed in 1969 and accidentally drowned a short time later while Mick Taylor replaced him. Taylor was with the band for five albums and then was replaced by former “Faces” guitarist Ron Wood who recorded nearly a dozen albums with them. Bill Wyman, the original bass player, quit in December 1992 and began working on his historical archive of Rolling Stones photos, films, tapes, and documents chronicling the band’s entire history.

Over their nearly 60 year career, they have produced dozens of landmark hit singles and record albums and won or have been nominated for every music and entertainment award available as well as being inducted into a number of music Halls of Fame. It would take a list of at least 100 songs to do justice to their catalogue, so this is a distillation reduced to the bare essence.

10. “Beast of Burden”

Beast of Burden is from the 1978 release of Some Girls during one of the darkest periods that the band went through. At the time Keith Richards was looking at the possibility of spending time in jail because of his drug busts and the “Rolling Stones” were considering breaking up when they decided to double down. Jagger provided the lyrics while Richards provided the groove and then worked it out in the recording studio by trading licks with his partner Ron Wood. Bette Midler did a version of the song in 1984 and Jagger appeared in the video with her.

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9. “It’s Only Rock and Roll”

“It’s only Rock and Roll” was the title song from the Rolling Stones’ 1974 release which was Mick Taylor’s last album with the band. Rolling Stone Magazine called the album “decadent because it invites us to dance in the face of its own despair.” The violent lyrics describe a joyous suicidal dance on stage to satisfy “your teenage lust.”

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8. “The Last Time”

“The Last Time” from Out Of Our Heads was a re-worked version of “This May Be the Last Time,” a gospel song by the Staple Singers from 1955. Some complained that the Stones never paid any royalties to the Staple Singers but the song is “traditional” and was recorded by many artists and is still sung in churches today. The riff is the same but the lyrics are completely different in the Stones’ version. The Staple’s version is spiritual and uplifting while the Stones’ rendition is about a carnal relationship with a girl. Although this sounds blasphemous it falls right in line with the double standard that has existed since the field holler’s gave birth to both the Spirituals and the Blues after the Civil War in 1865.

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7. “Paint It, Black”

“Paint It, Black” was the Rolling Stones’ third number one hit in the USA and definitely solidified their position as a musical force of the 1960s. At first they were seen as a scruffier version of the Beatles and when they added a sitar to the song it was seen as following the Beatles after Norwegian Wood in 1965.  It came out in 1966 on the Aftermath album and even though the song is credited to Jagger/Richards, Bill Wyman “has long claimed he helped a great deal in writing the song.”

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6. “2000 Light Years From Home”

“2000 Light Years From Home” came from the Rolling Stones’ album Their Satanic Majesties Request that followed the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band seven months earlier. The year 1967 had a double meaning as it was the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco but “burn baby burn” in Detroit and Newark with major riots. The Beatles represented the happy hippies with a circus atmosphere while the Rolling Stones created dark psychedlic imagery with the album title and using space travel at a time when inner space astronauts were flying on LSD and Syd Barrett was still a member of Pink Floyd.

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5. “Ruby Tuesday”

“Ruby Tuesday” was the “Stone’s” fourth #1 hit in America and although the song is credited to Jagger/Richards it was Keith Richards’ composition. Music historians agree that it was an autobiographical song about his ex-girlfriend, Linda Keith, that left him for Jimi Hendrix. It came from the American version of Between the Buttons released in January 1967

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4. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”

“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is a song that was about Jack Dyer who was Keith Richards’ elderly gardener. He wore a pair of rubber boots which made a distinct sound that woke up Mick Jagger when he was crashing at Keith’s place one night. When he asked what the sound was , Keith said that it was his gardener “Jumping Jack.” That was the inspiration for them to sit down and write the song.

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3. “Sympathy for the Devil”

“Sympathy for the Devil” was right in line with the Rolling Stones’ reputation at the time as the bad boys of rock who dabbled in the dark side. The song was developed in the studio as it was transformed from a low key folk song to a high energy rock anthem. The phrase “Please allow me to introduce myself” is indelibly imprinted on the memory of the collective consciousness of a generation.

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2. “Gimme Shelter”

“Gimme Shelter” is the opening cut on Let It Bleed that the Rolling Stones recorded in 1969 when it became the last album that Brian Jones was on. The turmoil of that broken relationship can be felt in the tone and direction of the song which is apocalyptic in nature. Martin Scorsese liked it enough to use it in three of his films.

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1.  (I Can’t Get No) “Satisfaction”

Keith Richards was doodling on his guitar in bed with the tape on one night and the riff was on the recorder the next morning leaving Jagger to write the lyrics. “Satisfaction” is the saga of disenfranchised youth back in the mid 1960s who were fed up with the phony empty rhetoric of their elders and its consumer mentality. “Don’t tell me how white my shirt can be” and what brand of cigarettes I should smoke.” “Devo” did an interesting version of “Satisfaction” in 1978.

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Bob Gersztyn

As a teenager in Detroit, Michigan during the early 1960’s Bob Gersztyn saw many Motown and other R&B artists including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. After his discharge from the army in 1968 he attended school on the GI Bill and spent the next 3 years attending concerts and festivals weekly. It was the seminal period in Detroit rock & roll that Bob witnessed spawning the MC5 and Stooges along with shows featuring everyone from Jimi Hendrix and the “Doors” to B. B. King and John Lee Hooker. In 1971 He moved to Los Angeles, California to finish his schooling where he became an inner city pastor promoting and hosting gospel concerts. He moved to Oregon in 1982 and began photographing and reviewing concerts for music publications. Since that time he has published myriads of photographs, articles, interviews, and contributed to 2 encyclopedias and published 6 books on everything from music to the military. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Bob%20Gersztyn His rock & roll photo art is available for sale on Etsy @: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ConcertPhotoImages?ref=seller-platform-mcnav Bob may be contacted personally at bobgersztyn@gmail.com

49 thoughts on “Top 10 Rolling Stones Songs

  • January 14, 2021 at 10:50 am
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    Honky Tonk Woman, Tumbling Dice, Start Me Up, Sweet Black Angel. Should’ve made it a twenty.

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  • January 14, 2021 at 10:57 am
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    Can’t You Hear me Knocking. Tumbling Dice, Moonlight Mile

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  • January 14, 2021 at 12:58 pm
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    Brown Sugar, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Honky Tonk Woman

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  • January 14, 2021 at 3:21 pm
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    My top 3 would be: Sympathy, Shelter and Start me Up. If we are talking Blues Rock the ones that u missed are: Love is Strong, Almost hear You sigh, Love in Vain, Saint of Me, Can’t you hear me knocking.

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  • January 14, 2021 at 3:22 pm
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    I think we can add : Winter, brown sugar’ wild horses , sister morphine’ memory motel, loving cup’ Moon light miles

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  • January 14, 2021 at 4:15 pm
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    Midnight rambler, dead flowers, the under assistant west coast promotion man, Little T&A, Sweet Virginia, Good time women…. I could go one for ages. There are multiple top 10’s you could make and they would all be absolutely beautiful…

    Maybe we should make a top 10 Rolling Stones top 10’s, you know?

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  • January 14, 2021 at 10:13 pm
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    Honky Tonk Woman, Brown Sugar, You Can’t Always Get What You Wanted, Jumpin Jack Flash, Ruby Tuesday, Tumbling Dice, Symozthy for the devil, Angie, and even I Miss You.

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  • January 14, 2021 at 11:07 pm
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    Honky Tonk Women
    Bitch
    Heartbreaker

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  • January 14, 2021 at 11:25 pm
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    Rocks Off, Sweet Virginia, Midnight Mile, Comming Down Again, Can’t You Hear Me Knockin, Thief In The Night, and on, and on. I know you need 20 spots to make a Stones top 10 list, but most of your list is top 50 Stones.

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  • January 14, 2021 at 11:31 pm
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    Miss you,Angie,emotional rescue,

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  • January 14, 2021 at 11:35 pm
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    PLAY WITH FIRE
    MOTHERS LITTLE HELPER
    GET OFF OF MY CLOUD
    HEARTBREAKER
    START ME UP
    HARLEM SHUFFLE
    UNDERCOVER OF THE NIGHT
    WAITING ON A FRIEND
    SHATTERED
    SHES SO COLD
    19TH NERVOUS BREAKDOWN
    BITCH

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  • January 15, 2021 at 12:03 am
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    Not even close

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  • January 15, 2021 at 12:07 am
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    The writer misstated which band members were main contributors to the songs Jumping Jack Flash was a riff Bill Brian and Charlie worked out waiting on Mick and Keith to show up for the session lyrics were added by the Glimmer Twins the songwriting credits for this song caused a rift in the band when Mick and Keith took credit for it the other 3 ultimately stood down but it was an acrimonious moment in the band history

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  • January 15, 2021 at 1:04 am
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    It Would Be Kinda A Real Good Idea To Get Someone Who Knows “The Correct Facts & A Bit More Information”
    About The Rolling Stones !!!!!! 🤔

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  • January 15, 2021 at 3:54 am
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    Really!? YOU MISSED A FEW. UNDER MY THUMB. LETS SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER. HANG FIRE. ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. WHEN THE WHIP COMES DOWN. FAR AWAY EYES. I’M THROUGH.

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  • January 15, 2021 at 6:06 am
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    Wat about brown sugar n shes a rainbow. My all time favourite is 19th nervous breakdown. F****** brilliant.

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  • January 15, 2021 at 6:14 am
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    For me the best Stones numbers ever: live version from Symphaty for the devil 1969 madison square garden. Time wants for no one.
    Jumping Jack Flash. Brown sugar. Lets spend the night together. Sittin on a fence.
    The last time. Thats how strong my love is.
    Confessin the blues. Midnight rambler.

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  • January 15, 2021 at 9:04 am
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    Never songs from black and blue album Hey Negrita ,Memory Motel , Daddy your a fool to cry . Great Album !

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  • January 15, 2021 at 9:40 am
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    Paint IT black, Sympathy for the devil, sister morphine. And many others

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  • January 15, 2021 at 9:59 am
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    The bottom line is that pretty much all of their songs were great in my opinion.

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  • January 15, 2021 at 10:32 am
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    Keef wrote the lyrics to Beast of Burden…at least that’s what he tells me. It’s his song, much like Lennon/McCartney, it’s generally one individual who writes the number…don’t be confused by who the lead vocalist is. It’s no coincidence, Richard’s backing vocals are all over most of their songs…it’s cuz he’s usually the author.

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    • January 15, 2021 at 10:38 am
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      Addendum;

      In those same notes, Jagger says, “Lyrically, this wasn’t particularly heartfelt in a personal way. It’s a soul begging song, an attitude song. It was one of those where you get one melodic lick, break it down and work it up; there are two parts here which are basically the same.” The song can be seen as allegorical, with Richards saying in 2003, “When I returned to the fold after closing down the laboratory [referring to his drug problems throughout the 1970s], I came back into the studio with Mick… to say, ‘Thanks, man, for shouldering the burden’ – that’s why I wrote “Beast of Burden” for him, I realise in retrospect.

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  • January 15, 2021 at 12:07 pm
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    Gimme Shelter (what an intro) and I just love Prodigal Son off Beggars Banquet

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  • January 15, 2021 at 12:19 pm
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    How do you not include Brown Sugar. Street Fighting Man, Midnight Rambled Honey Tonk Woman all classics. No way that 2000 Light Years is a top 10er.

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  • January 15, 2021 at 1:21 pm
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    Midnight Rambler .. live version from Ya yas….. sez it all

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  • January 15, 2021 at 1:25 pm
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    Interesting comments—but the opening 45 seconds of “Monkey Man” are the best example of the Stones brilliance ( and Keith’s) and blues-rock that they have—–next to Gimme Shelter!!

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  • January 15, 2021 at 3:34 pm
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    Meh…you’re entitled to your opinion.

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  • January 15, 2021 at 3:53 pm
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    If you start me up / If you start me up, I’ll never stop / If you start me up / If you start me up, I’ll never stop / I’ve been running hot / You got me ticking, going to blow my top
    If you start me up
    If you start me up, I’ll never stop never stop, never stop, never stop! These few choice words and Keefs amazing lick restarted the rock and roll world fire! Some Girls led the charge into the 80’s!

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  • January 15, 2021 at 4:15 pm
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    This list is a joke!

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  • January 15, 2021 at 4:31 pm
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    Midnight Rambler from Get Yer Ya Yas Out.

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  • January 15, 2021 at 4:35 pm
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    Very few would include Ruby Tuesday 2000 years from home and Beast of Burden but miss out Honky Tonk Women Brown Sugar Midnight Rambler live version Miss You or Start Me Up which have finished concerts for several years so clearly the most popular along with 7 of those mentioned

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  • January 15, 2021 at 5:25 pm
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    It’s impossible to do a top 10 Rolling Stones song list; way too much quality material and way too many individual opinions.

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  • January 15, 2021 at 6:53 pm
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    One could easily get to 100, I have been a rabid fan since I drained my meager beer fund to buy Aftermath in mid 60s and have gone through a lot of vinyl, 8 tracks, cassettes and discs since then.
    Best r&r band ever!!

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  • January 15, 2021 at 7:44 pm
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    Happy 😊

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  • January 15, 2021 at 9:00 pm
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    The Stones should have probably stop after 1981. Their musics after that was not as profound. I know the media like to compare them to the beasties. But they more of blue band and they more pop band.. Still I think led zeppelin were the best in the rock bands.

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  • January 16, 2021 at 10:41 am
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    All Due Respect To Led Zep- TRS Body Of Work Is incomparable,While Both Bands Sadly Lost Key Members,The Stones Never Gave In

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  • January 16, 2021 at 12:19 pm
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    Shine a light.

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  • January 16, 2021 at 9:19 pm
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    Salt of the Earth, Parachute Woman and Saint of me all are on this list

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  • January 17, 2021 at 9:24 am
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    Angie is my most favorite so far, tho most of songs in this list I haven’t listened, and I like Melanie’s version of Ruby Tuesday more

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  • January 17, 2021 at 11:08 am
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    Satisfaction would not crack my top 50. Brown Sugar is a top ten Rock and Roll song of all time,not just top ten Stones songs. To be fair the Stones have at least 100 songs that could considered for my top 10. How about some deeper cuts like Dead Flowers, Monkey Man, or Sweet Virginia.

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  • January 17, 2021 at 12:53 pm
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    Was only 15 when Satisfaction came out. At the time on pop /rock radio it was relationship songs of verse/chorus and I liked the chorus start of it. Which a lot of great songs do.
    The verses were tumbling out so many words and social issues it reminded me of Dylan when I first heard it, but I didn’t listen to him at the time I just felt all through it. It was different for radio or pop at the time. It really affected many kids at the time. Another thing was Charlie and the snap 1-2-3 on the snare he did.

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  • January 17, 2021 at 2:13 pm
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    Monkey Man, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking and Honky Tonk Woman should be in the top ten. While I love The Last Time and 2000 Miles, I don’t think they belong in the top ten.

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  • January 17, 2021 at 6:58 pm
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    Memo from Turner, stray cat blues, monkey man, moonlight mile, sister morphene, Angie and live version of midnight rambler from hot rocks 2.
    My ol man introduced me to the stones when I was 6 and I a was hooked on the subtle riffs that Richards brought every time. Without fail.

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  • January 17, 2021 at 7:56 pm
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    Nobody mentioned As Tears Go By, one of their most beautiful songs

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  • January 17, 2021 at 8:46 pm
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    1. Hand Of Fate
    2. Winter
    3. We Love You

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  • January 18, 2021 at 7:51 pm
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    I remember seeing them on the Ed Sullivan show, after The Beatles had appeared. And the next weeks show Ed Sullivan said they wouldn’t invite them back. Referring to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards touching tongues on stage. Through all of the years they have been a staple in my life. It’s almost impossible for me to pick a favorite song. From earliest memory I’d have to pick Satisfaction. And Paint it Black. She’s the Boss album is a great! Come on… Let’s face it they’ve put out the best music all of the years they’ve been around.

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  • January 18, 2021 at 10:49 pm
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    Gimmie Shelter
    Ruby Tuesday
    Cany you hear me knockin
    Midnight Rambler (any live version)
    Street Fighting Man
    Jiving Sister Fanny
    Monkey Man
    Bitch
    Hand of Fate
    Angie

    My top 10

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  • January 20, 2021 at 11:02 am
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    IF JAGGER, RICHARDS & OZZY CAN MAKE IT THROUGH 2020 THEY CAN MAKE IT THROUGH OTHER STUFF SO THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO LIVE UNTIL AT LEAST 200 WITH EVERYTHING THEY’VE DONE!

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  • April 15, 2021 at 9:18 am
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    Glad to see someone thinks Monkey Man deserves recognition.The piano work is out of this world.

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