Last week, the Rolling Stones celebrated the 50th anniversary of their first gig. Now in their late 60s and early 70s, Jagger, Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts show no sign of quitting. Smash hits come and go, and we all know about the one-hit wonder. But the music that really endures usually does so because it hits some kind of universal truth. Sure, it's that catchy riff, their charismatic personalities, those Jagger moves. But the messages in the songs of the Rolling Stones have long resonated with me.
Their anniversary got me thinking about some of those classics, how they stand the test of time and still speak to me. And I think they can speak to us all as reminders of what a healthy relationship should look like... those lessons we all need to learn (sometimes again and again!) in matters of love and life! Here are some of my favourites:
1. You Can't Always Get What You Want (1969)
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need
This means so much to me! We're often so busy chasing after the things we want that we don't get those things we need. I blogged before about needs versus wants and this pretty much sums it all up. Often the things we want aren't the things that are really good for us... what you need is what nurtures your soul... what you want is sometimes a fancy distraction along the way!
2. Beast of Burden (1978)
I'll never be your beast of burden
My back is broad but it's a' hurting
All I want is for you to make love to me
I'll never be your beast of burden
I love this song! What are we prepared to do (and to take) for love? Mick is drawing the line... he wants to be loved, but not enough to be a beast of burden, to carry all the weight of the relationship. That's not what love is about. I think we've all found ourselves in those relationships when we gave too much, where we did all the heavy lifting. And of course, sometimes all relationships sometimes need you to be the strong one, while the other person struggles. But it's about give and take -- there should be an overall balance.
3. Waiting on a Friend (1981)
A smile relieves a heart that grieves
Remember what I said
I'm not waiting on a lady
I'm just waiting on a friend
Waiting on a Friend signifies the importance of friendship in romantic relationships. It's all about falling in love with a person who is also your friend, who cares for you like a friend and knows you well enough to read your eyes, your smile and know what you're truly feeling. I especially love this when I consider what it must be like for Mick and the boys to find love as successful rockstars. In many ways, love comes easy when you're rich and famous and there are fake friends around every corner. In these lyrics, I hear yearning for something with greater depth and sincerity, for those deeper emotional binds of friendship and true affection. And I think that's something we can all relate to (rockstar or not!).
4. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (1965)
When I'm drivin' in my car
And the man comes on the radio
He's tellin' me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to drive my imagination
A classic for that throwaway three-note opening riff alone, this song obviously refers to sexual frustration. But it's also about commercialization and the constant state of unfulfilled product-lust many of us live in. It's sometimes true that the more you have, the more you find yourself wanting... satisfaction, contentment can be elusive things. This song reminds me to strike a balance between wanting and being grateful.
5. Under My Thumb (1966)
Under my thumb
The girl who once had me down
Under my thumb
The girl who once pushed me around
This song has been criticized for being anti-feminist, as it essentially talks about a man putting a strong woman under his thumb. But, for me, the lyrics speak of the power struggle that exists between men and women. That struggle can be on either side, with both trying to stake out their claim and change the other. But while some relationships are about the struggle between two people, the best kinds are when we work together -- trying to find balance and harmony in our relationships, to each have our needs met in a way that's respectful and nurturing.
The rock n' roll lifestyle may not be a role model for healthy living, but songwriters have a way of striking core truths in their music that often eludes them in real life. I think that's one of the fascinating things about artists... with all their creative insight and awareness, finding that happiness in life is something that seems difficult for them. Mick and the boys may have had their share of sex, drugs, rock n' roll. But, at the same time, their music strikes simpler, more fundamental truths... lessons that I think we can all learn.
So, when you're on your next road trip and your listening to music, think of the lyrics and how they perhaps can hold some answers to some of our lifes biggest questions! What tunes do you listen to over and over that hold essential meaning and lessons for you? I'd love to know!