But let me ask you to imagine yourself, as I was, unimaginably, partnered with the writer of “Satisfaction,” “Paint It Black,” “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” etc. And then imagine that your partner, seemingly overnight, lost some essential part of his talents.
Not, as is commonly supposed, sometime perhaps in the 1980s, when the Rolling Stones’ decline in creativity was on obvious display, but earlier. A lot earlier. Like, say, 1972 at the latest.
Those who like Exile on Main St. like its denseness, its mystery, its swampy commitment. Accidentally and amid no little chaos, we conjured up something dirty, impenetrable, and, in parts, compelling. But I think its murk promises depths that aren’t there. There are decent but no major songs on Exile. Let’s go back an album, to Sticky Fingers. I wrote “Brown Sugar.” Mick Taylor wrote “Sway” and most of “Moonlight Mile,” and made “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” his own. Keith and I together did most of the rest, like “Wild Horses,” but, in the end, he didn’t write most of the thing’s best songs.
From there, there’s Exile. Some nice tracks— “Rocks Off,” “Happy”—but there is no “Gimme Shelter” or “Let It Bleed.” Chords that once threatened society in some significant now way rarely radiated outward.