Beatles vs. Stones

Recently a half-century-old argument resurfaced when I heard someone say that he was more of a Rolling Stones fan than a Beatles fan. Preferring the Stones to the Beatles is fine except when someone dismisses the Beatles as a “pop” band rather than a true rock band like the Stones.

Don’t let prefabricated appearances deceive you. The Beatles were much more working-class Liverpulians whose black leather outfits were traded for mod suits by Brian Epstein to make them appear nice lads you could bring home to Mum, while the Stones, who were mostly from the London suburbs, were packaged as “bad boys” by their manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who created the headline, “Would you want your daughter to marry a Rolling Stone?” But the Stones started out with the same “mod” look as the Beatles and evolved into the rougher style to stand out from their rivals.

The Beatles in 1961

The Beatles in 1963

The Rolling Stones in 1964

 

The Stones definitely took rock to the next raunchier level as a reaction to the Beatles dominating the “pop” charts but both bands started out playing the same rhythm and blues or rock and roll numbers. While the Stones imitated Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, the genius of the Beatles was to write and play blues songs as “pop” songs. If you look at the chords of many of their early tunes you see they were playing minors and sevenths but playing them with a rock and roll upbeat.

I’ve also noticed that those who prefer the Stones tend to be younger than those of us who were buying the records in the Sixties when they came out. When I ask Stones fans for their favorite album, almost invariably, they name Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers or Exile on Main Street— all great albums but all released after the Beatles broke up. To put things in their proper perspective you have to compare the Stones and Beatles from 1962 to 1969.

The Stones first record was a cover of Chuck Berry’s Come On backed by Willie Dixon’s I Want to Be Loved, released in June 1963. Their second release in November 1963 was I Wanna Be Your Man— given to them as a “throwaway” song John and Paul had written for Ringo to sing, backed by Stoned, an instrumental attributed to Nanker Phelge, a pseudonym used for compositions by all five Stones (and sometimes sixth unofficial member Ian Stewart). Come On peaked at #21 on the British charts while the Lennon-McCartney penned I Wanna Be Your Man made it to #11. Neither song appeared on the American charts. That’s it for 1962-1963.

Not counting My Bonnie on which the Beatles were the backing band for Tony Sheridan, in 1962 the Beatles released the single Love Me Do backed with P.S. I Love You— two original songs that reached the #1 position on both the British and American charts. In 1963 they released Please Please Me/Ask Me Why; From Me to You/Thank You Girl; She Loves You/I’ll Get You; I Want to Hold Your Hand/This Boy; Roll Over Beethoven/Please Mr. Postman and I Saw Her Standing There. Nine original songs, all of which were #1 hits in Britain, Australia, Canada and/or the U.S. except their first Please Please Me, which only made it to #2. Their cover of Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven was #1 in Australia and #2 in Canada. The Beatles also released two albums in 1963, which contained eight additional original songs that weren’t released as singles: Misery; It Won’t Be Long; All I’ve Got to Do; Don’t Bother Me; Little Child; Hold Me Tight; Not a Second Time and I Wanna Be Your Man.

In 1964 the Beatles released All My Loving; Twist and Shout/There’s a Place; Can’t Buy Me Love/You Can’t Do That; Do You Want to Know a Secret; A Hard Day’s Night/Things We Said Today; I Should Have Known Better; I’ll Cry Instead/I’m Happy Just to Dance With You; And I Love Her/If I Fell; Matchbox/Slow Down; I Feel Fine/She’s a Woman and Tell Me Why plus six other songs from their Tony Sheridan days in Hamburg. 16 original songs, 11 of which went to #1. Their Isley Brothers cover of Twist and Shout reached #2 in the U.S. They also released two albums, which contained nine more original songs never released as singles: Any Time at All; When I Get Home; I’ll Be Back; No Reply; I’m a Loser; Baby’s in Black; I’ll Follow the Sun; Every Little Thing and What You’re Doing.

Their Ed Sullivan appearance on February 9, 1964, attracted an unprecedented 74 million viewers. During the week of April 4, 1964 The Beatles occupied the first five slots of the Billboard Hot 100— #1 Can’t Buy Me Love; #2 Twist and Shout; #3 She Loves You; #4 I Want to Hold Your Hand and #5 Please Please Me— the only group in rock and roll history to achieve this feat. That same week they also had another seven records in the Hot 100: I Saw Her Standing There at 31; From Me to You at 41; Do You Want to Know a Secret? at 46; All My Loving at 58; You Can’t Do That at 65; Roll Over Beethoven at 68. The Beatles had twelve songs on the charts that week, a feat never matched before or since. Four other songs written by Paul McCartney were hits for Peter & Gordon in 1964 including World Without Love, which reached the #1 spot.

In 1964 the Rolling Stones released covers of Not Fade Away; It’s All Over Now; Time Is On My Side and Little Red Rooster. It’s All Over Now and Little Red Rooster made it to #1 in Britain only. Their only original tracks Tell Me and Heart of Stone failed to make the charts. They weren’t even the second most successful group to ride the British Invasion coattails of the Beatles. The Animals had a #1 hit in the U.S. and UK with House of the Rising Sun and Manfred Mann hit #1 on both charts with Do Wah Diddy Diddy. The Kinks had #1 hits in the UK with You Really Got Me and Tired of Waiting for You with All Day and All of the Night hitting #2. When the Stones first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on October 25, 1964 they had only hit #1 in Britain with It’s All Over Now and made it to #6 in the States with Time Is on My Side. They released two albums in 1964, which contained seven original songs: Now I’ve Got a Witness; Little By Little; Empty Heart; Good Times Bad Times; 2120 South Michigan Avenue; Congratulations and Grown Up Wrong— all derivative of Chuck Berry or Muddy Waters. More bluesy than Beatles tunes like And I Love Her or If I Fell but hardly of the same caliper and no more blues-based than You Can’t Do That or rock-based than A Hard Day’s Night.

In 1965 the Stones finally hit it big with original songs (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Get Off My Cloud both reaching #1 in the UK and U.S. The Last Time made it to #1 in Britain, #9 in the U.S. and As Tears Go By made it to #2 on both charts. Satisfaction is without doubt one of the greatest rock songs of all time and the other three songs are also excellent songs with a blues-rock base. The rest of their original songs released on album were less memorable: What a Shame; Off the Hook; Surprise Surprise; The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man; Play With Fire; The Spider and the Fly; One More Try; The Singer Not the Song; I’m Free; Gotta Get Away and Blue Turns to Grey.

Meanwhile the Beatles had back-to-back #1 hits with Eight Days a Week/I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party; Ticket to Ride/Yes It Is; Help/I’m Down; Yesterday/Act Naturally and We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper. Additional original songs in 1965 were The Night Before; You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away; I Need You; Another Girl; It’s Only Love; You Like Me Too Much; Tell Me What You See; I’ve Just Seen a Face; Drive My Car; Norwegian Wood; You Won’t See Me; Think for Yourself; The Word; Michelle; Girl; I’m Looking Through You; In My Life; Wait; If I Needed Someone and Run for Your Life.

1966 was a good year for the Stones with Paint It Black reaching #1 in the U.S. and UK. 19th Nervous Breakdown made it to #2 on both charts. Mother’s Little Helper/Lady Jane, and Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing in the Shadows broke the Top 10. Their Aftermath album was their first of all original songs containing: Stupid Girl; Under My Thumb; Doncha Bother Me; Goin’ Home; Flight 505; High and Dry; It’s Not Easy; I Am Waiting; Take It or Leave It; Think, and What To Do.

The Beatles still reigned supreme however with Nowhere Man/What Goes On; Paperback Writer/Rain; Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby all reaching the #1 spot and their album Revolver elevated rock music to an art form with Taxman; I’m Only Sleeping; Love You To; Here, There and Everywhere; She Said She Said; Good Day Sunshine; And Your Bird Can Sing; For No One; Doctor Robert; I Want to Tell You; Got to Get You Into My Life and Tomorrow Never Knows, which blew minds worldwide with its unique blend of Indian music, backwards loops and sounds never before introduced into popular music.

January 1967 the Stones released Let’s Spend the Night Together/Ruby Tuesday, which made it to #3 in the UK and only #55 in the U.S. but oddly enough when re-released as Ruby Tuesday /Let’s Spend the Night Together made it to #1 in the U.S.

Then in February 1967 the Beatles released Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever, which took the rock single to a new height— so far beyond what the listening public had ever heard on AM radio that it was kept from the #1 spot in Britain by Engelbert Humperdinck’s Release Me— their first single since 1962’s Please Please Me to only reach the #2 spot. It did hit #1 everywhere else in the world.

February 1967 was also the release date of the Stones Between the Buttons, which included twelve new songs written by Jagger and Richards including: Yesterday’s Papers; My Obsession; Back Street Girl; Connection; She Smiled Sweetly; Cool, Calm and Collected; All Sold Out; Please Go Home; Who’s Been Sleeping Here?; Complicated; Miss Amanda Jones and  Something Happened to Me Yesterday. No hit songs here so the American release substituted the singles Let’s Spend the Night Together and Ruby Tuesday.

June 1967 saw the release of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Volumes have been written about its effect on the world of not only music but also popular culture. Originally planned as a double album, it was released as a single LP for the Summer of Love market, containing the tracks: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band; With a Little Help From My Friends; Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds; Getting Better; Fixing a Hole; She’s Leaving Home; Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite; Within You Without You; When I’m Sixty-Four; Lovely Rita; Good Morning, Good Morning; Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (Reprise) and A Day in the Life. The remaining songs were released as Magical Mystery Tour in November, as an EP in Britain containing Magical Mystery Tour; Your Mother Should Know; I Am the Walrus; The Fool on the Hill; Flying and Blue Jay Way. The American LP featured the additional tracks: Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane; plus the previously released singles Hello, Goodbye; Baby, You’re a Rich Man and All You Need Is Love, all of which reached #1 worldwide.

The Stones answer to these two masterpieces was Their Satanic Majesties Request released December 1967— probably their lamest effort to date. To be fair Jagger, Richards and Jones had all been busted for drugs and the band was parting from their long time producer Andrew Long Oldham at the time. Tracks include: Sing This All Together; Citadel; In Another Land; 2000 Man; Sing This All Together (See What Happens); She’s a Rainbow; The Lantern; Gomper; 2000 Light Years From Home and On With the Show.

Despite almost parting ways in 1968, the Beatles had their most prolific period. During the recording of their eponymous The Beatles (forever after known as “The White Album”) Ringo, then George left and returned. John who annoyed the other three by bringing Yoko into the studio daily also took a few prolonged absences. Yet in addition to the 30 tracks on the double album, they managed to release the singles Lady Madonna/The Inner Light and Hey Jude/Revolution, both of which reached #1 worldwide. I won’t list all 30 tracks on the LP but for those who choose to label the Beatles as a “pop” band I recommend listening again to Revolution 1, Helter Skelter, Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey, Yer Blues or Back in the U.S.S.R. The Beatles also recorded four additional songs between the Sgt. Pepper and White Album sessions: Hey Bulldog, All Together Now, Only a Northern Song and It’s All Too Much. These tracks appeared on the Yellow Submarine movie soundtrack released in January 1969.

Simultaneously, the Stones recorded one of their finest albums Beggars Banquet— Brian Jones last full contribution and their first with producer Jimmy Miller. Street Fighting Man— like the Beatles’ Revolution was released as a single in response to the cultural events of 1968— race riots and student war protests, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the riot at the Democratic Convention and the Tet Offensive which drove American forces out of Saigon and turned the tide of the Vietnam War. But Street Fighting Man only reached #48 on the American Billboard Hot 100 and didn’t chart at all in the UK. Another track recorded during these sessions though was Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Released only as a single, it hit #1 in America and #3 in Britain. Beggars Banquet also featured Sympathy for the Devil— classic Stones and one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

In January 1969 the Beatles began what was to be their Get Back album— a return to their rock and roll roots. Filming the sessions for a proposed television special proved to be their undoing with already flared tempers from the previous year put on ice by the unfamiliar and freezing cold Twickenham Studios and filming early in the morning when they had gotten used to late night recordings since Sgt. Pepper. Plus George Martin couldn’t produce the album since he was contractually bound to Abbey Road Studios. The Beatles were so displeased with the experience and the recordings that the whole project was scrapped and only resurrected a year later when Lennon gave the tapes to Phil Spector to “see what he could do with them.” The result was the Let It Be album released after the Beatles had dissolved as a band.

Despite this “failure” Get Back backed with Don’t Let Me Down was released as a single and went to #1 worldwide. Lennon and McCartney also recorded and released The Ballad of John and Yoko, backed by George’s Old Brown Shoe, which reached #1 in the UK but only peaked at #8 in the U.S. probably due to being banned by most American radio stations because of the lyric, “Christ, you know it ain’t easy, you know how hard it can be; The way things are going, they’re gonna crucify me.” (I remember hearing it on the radio at the time with the word “Christ” omitted, so there was a one beat blank space in the song.)

Not wanting to end on a sour note the Beatles went back to Abbey Road Studios with George Martin to record what they knew would be their final album. It became known as Abbey Road. Released in September 1969, it is considered by most critics to be the Beatles’ masterpiece (though I personally prefer Revolver). Known primarily for its medley of songs blended together on Side 2, which was unprecedented at the time, highlights of the album also include Come Together; I Want You (She’s So Heavy), which ends Side 1 abruptly, the stunningly beautiful vocal harmonies on Because and Harrison’s two contributions Here Comes the Sun and Something— his first single release and another #1 hit for the band. Come Together also reached #1.

December 1969 saw the release of the Stones second of four albums produced by Jimmy Miller titled Let It Bleed— an obvious play on words derived from the Beatles Let It Be, which had been recorded but not yet released. Considered by many to be the Stones best album, Let It Bleed featured the classics Gimme Shelter; Midnight Rambler and You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Along with the title track other songs include Country Honk; Live With Me; Monkey Man; You Got the Silver— Keith Richards first lead vocal— and a cover of Robert Johnson’s Love In Vain. A variation of Country Honk titled Honky Tonk Women, backed by You Can’t Always Get What You Want was released as a single in July 1969 and was a #1 hit in the UK and U.S.

Paul, George and Ringo met in the studio on January 3, 1970 to record I Me Mine, the last song recorded as “Beatles”. It plus the unreleased songs from the Get Back sessions from a year earlier were complied into the posthumous Let It Be album. By then the Beatles were recording as four individual artists and McCartney was especially displeased with Phil Spector’s production of his tracks. Regardless, the album went to #1 worldwide and the song Let It Be backed with You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) (undisputedly the Beatles worst recording) was a #1 hit in the U.S. as was the single The Long and Winding Road/For You Blue.

For the record, I also consider myself a Rolling Stones fan. Seeing them in 1972 was possibly the best rock and roll concert I’ve ever seen. (It’s a toss up with Led Zepplin in 1973.) But hopefully this “apples–to-apples” (no pun intended) comparison demonstrates to other Stones fans that the Beatles decline was directly proportional to (and responsible for) the Stones ascension. In the Seventies the Stones truly became The World’s Greatest Rock Band— but only after they were no longer in the shadow of the Beatles. Props should also be given to producer Jimmy Miller. It couldn’t have been coincidence that the four greatest Stones albums were under his direction.

Now one final note: in one of his post-Beatles interviews, John Lennon made the statement that the Stones always copied the Beatles about six months later. Despite the fact that Lennon was going through a deconstruction phase that he never got the chance to live past— putting down the Beatles, Stones, Dylan and everyone else— there is evidence to support his claim. Take a look at the following list of songs and album covers and check out the release dates.


With the Beatles released November 1963 with chiaroscuro side-lit faces.


The Rolling Stones (1st album) released April 1964 with side-lit faces.


A Hard Day’s Night released July 1964. The Beatles in boxes.


The Rolling Stones Now released February 1965. The Stones in boxes.


Beatles For Sale released December 1964. Partially obscured, out-of-focus nature shot.


Out of Our Heads released September 1965. Partially obscured, out-of-focus urban shot.


Rubber Soul released December 1965. Tilted angle, shot from below.


Aftermath released April 1966. Tilted angle, shot from above.


The banned Butcher cover for Yesterday and Today, released June 1966 then recalled— the Beatles’ commentary on the Viet Nam War.


The banned cover of Beggar’s Banquet, unreleased until the CD came out, photographed in the summer of 1968.


Revolver
released August 1966.
Illustration on front, group photo on back.



Between the Buttons
released January 1967.
Illustration on back, group photo on front.


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band released June 1967


Their Satanic Majesties Request released December 1967. The lenticular photo by Michael Cooper is similar to the Sgt. Pepper cover (also shot by Cooper) but also look at how similar the blue and white background is to Magical Mystery Tour.


Magical Mystery Tour
(American LP) released November 1967


The Beatles (White Album) released November 1968


Beggar’s Banquet released December 1968


Abbey Road
released September 1969


Let It Bleed released December 1969.
The Stones most original cover.


Let It Be
released May 1970, showing the Beatles as they truly were—
four individual artists.

Back-to-back song releases:
I Feel Fine—built around a riff with the first use of feedback, released December 1964.
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction—fuzz tone mirror opposite built around a riff, released February 1965.

Help— John Lennon wrote the lyrics of the song to express his stress after the Beatles’ quick rise to success, released July 1965.
Get Off of My Cloud— The Stones said that the song is written as a reaction to their sudden popularity after the success of “Satisfaction”, released September 1965.

19th Nervous Breakdown— The opening riff sounds “borrowed” from I Feel Fine, released November 1965.

Yesterday— opens with acoustic guitar, uses string quartet as a departure from the four-piece rock band, released September 1965.
As Tears Go By— opens with acoustic guitar, employs heavy string arrangement, released December 1965.

In My Life— George Martin on speeded up piano to sound like harpsichord, released December 1965.
Lady Jane— Brian Jones on dulcimer for Elizabethan sound, released July 1966.

Norwegian Wood— first use of sitar, released December 1965.
Paint It Black— uses sitar, released May 1966.

Eleanor Rigby— about a lonely spinster who “lives in a dream” and “dies in a church”, again using a string quartet, released August 1966.
Ruby Tuesday— about a woman who must “catch her dreams before they slip away” and is “dying all the time” fake quartet with Brian Jones playing recorder and piano, and double bass played jointly by Bill Wyman (pressing the strings against the fingerboard) with Keith Richards (bowing the strings), released January 1967.

Got to Get You Into My Life— made prominent use of a brass section, recorded June 1966.
Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? first Stones recording to feature brass horns, released September 1966.

All You Need Is Love—features backing vocals by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, released July 1967.
We Love You—features backing vocals by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released August 1967.

Revolution— addresses riots and protests in Sixties political landscape and offers a “solution”, released August 1968.
Street Fighting Man— addresses riots and protests in Sixties political landscape and offers a “compromise solution”, released August 1968.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want— Jagger said in 1969, “I liked the way the Beatles did that with ‘Hey Jude’. The orchestra was not just to cover everything up— it was something extra. We may do something like that on the next album.”

The Rolling Stones— World’s Second Greatest Rock Band. Case closed.

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About jpoll3

Jake Pollard is a writer and artist. I have written copy for every type of media and every demographic. From newspaper, magazine and direct mail to websites, interactive media and weblogs, if it has words, I've written it. From annual reports to haiku. Corporate capabilities brochures to T-shirts. I've won awards and taught classes. I'm an expert at the conceptualization of ideas into words and visuals. I have a degree in Fine Art Drawing and Painting from the University of Georgia and a degree in Art Direction from The Portfolio Center. I've sold paintings in galleries in New York, San Francisco and Atlanta and have 20 years experience as a copywriter so I use both sides of my brain. I'm ambidextrous and loquacious. And really more humble than a blog makes me sound. It is after all shameless self promotion.
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14 Responses to Beatles vs. Stones

  1. Edward Copeland says:

    Jake,
    What an awesomely thorough and thoroughly awesome treatment of the Beatles vs. Stones debate. I love both for different reasons. While reading your treatise I had the same thought I had 40 years ago when classmates were having this discussion. Who? More accurately, THE WHO. I was lucky enough to have a father who enjoyed all types of music and made sure I was familiar with the early rock, pop, and soul that The Beatles and The Stones reworked for a new audience. But for me it was always The Who that brought something new to the table.

    • jpoll3 says:

      Thanks Edward. I’m also a Who fan. Who’s Next is one of my favorite albums and Live and Leeds is of of the 2 or 3 best live albums of all time.

  2. Omer says:

    Jake Pollard your answer is very good and very creative. As a BEATLES fan I feel I have to write your answer differently: the Beatles are the #1 rock band in the world.
    All the way when I read the answer I noticed that at every moment the Beatles were above the stones. I liked the case closing demonstration of Lennon’s interview. I have to add something as a Beatles fan: the Beatles opened the way for British bands as a successful bands in america. Those bands were the Kinks the Animals and The Rolling Stones.
    The thing I like the best in your answer is that it is neutral, that argument was in other websites and it really was a big argument.

    • jpoll3 says:

      Omer, thanks for your comment. As I said I’m also a fan of the Stones but people who think they are a better band than the Beatles are usually looking at 20-30 years of their work. Another amazing thing about the Beatles is they recorded and released 12 of the greatest rock albums of all time in only 6 years (13 counting the Yellow Submarine soundtrack but it only had 4 new songs on it).

  3. Stuart says:

    This made me realize something…
    I’m a little surprised the Stones haven’t tried to copy the Beatles’ LOVE album.

    • jpoll3 says:

      Well “Love” was created as a Cirque du Soleil show. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were to do a Stones version. They’re already doing a Michael Jackson one. But no other artist has as rich a cast of characters as the Beatles work.

  4. Rob Weingartner says:

    I don’t even know where to begin with this blog. Comparing how many number 1 hits the Beatles had to the Stones in pointless. Everyone knows about the amazing chart success the Beatles had which hasn’t been matched by anyone in popular music except for maybe Elvis. First off, any debate about whose music in better boils down to personal taste – not that this is the argument in your blog. Comparing the Stones and Beatles sound is kind of pointless as these two bands, with a rare exception, for most part sounded nothing alike whatsoever. The Beatles were obviously influenced, like the Stones, by early Rock ‘n’ Roll: Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Elvis, etc, etc, but the Beatles early stuff had more of a ‘pop’ sound compared to the Stones raw, bluesy sound. That doesn’t mean everything the Beatles did was ‘pop’ it just means it was a bigger part of their overall sound then what the Stones were doing at the time.

    Anyway, I browsed through the top part of your blog and then went down to the bottom where you make album cover and song comparisons. I have been hearing about these comparisons since I became a Stones fan in 1979. I am sorry but these comparisons are a perfect example of people seeing what they want to see. In all my years of being a Stones fan I have never heard the Stones’ confess to any of these comparisons. Also, I could never understand why the Stones would do something like that.

    Let me start off with the song comparisons.

    Back-to-back song releases:
    I Feel Fine—built around a riff with the first use of feedback, released December 1964.
    I Can’t Get No Satisfaction—fuzz tone mirror opposite built around a riff, released February 1965.

    I don’t even know how to respond to this. I don’t get the comparison between the two songs whatsoever. I would never think of comparing the two songs. Are you saying Keith used a fuzz box because George Harrison used feedback? I Feel Fine is a love song and Satisfaction is about anger and frustration, so I don’t see a comparison in lyrics. By the way, Satisfaction wasn’t recorded until May, 1965, the same month it was released in America. I’m a little baffled by this one.

    Help— John Lennon wrote the lyrics of the song to express his stress after the Beatles’ quick rise to success, released July 1965.
    Get Off of My Cloud— The Stones said that the song is written as a reaction to their sudden popularity after the success of “Satisfaction”, released September 1965.

    A lot baffled by this one. I’m sure they weren’t the only bands to write songs reflecting their current success. Just because John Lennon wrote the lyrics to Help expressing the Beatles quick rise to success doesn’t mean Mick Jigger knew that’s why he wrote it.

    19th Nervous Breakdown— The opening riff sounds “borrowed” from I Feel Fine, released November 1965.

    No it doesn’t. The background riff in 19th Nervous Breakdown by Brian Jones was note-for-note taken directly from Bo Diddley’s Diddley Daddy. What was released in November 1965? You wrote in your first post that I Feel Fine was released in December 1964. The Stones’ 19th Nervous Breakdown was released in January1966.

    Yesterday— opens with acoustic guitar, uses string quartet as a departure from the four-piece rock band, released September 1965.
    As Tears Go By— opens with acoustic guitar, employs heavy string arrangement, released December 1965.

    This is one of my favorites – the Yesterday/As Tears Go By comparison. Let me give a little history about As Tears Go By. First off, As Tears Go By was written before Yesterday and not after. As Tears Go By was originally written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards under the title of As Time Goes By. Andrew Oldham, who was the manager of the Rolling Stones’ and Marianne Faithfull, encouraged them to write a song for her and As Tears Go By was the song. When Andrew Oldham heard the song he told them to change the lyric from ‘time’ to ‘tears’ so no one would confuse it with the song As Time Goes By from the Humphrey Bogart movie Casablanca. Andrew Oldham also felt the song needed a string arrangement. Due to his two suggestions the songwriting was credited to Jagger/Richards/Oldham. As Tears Go By was originally a hit by Marianne Faithfull in Great Britain in 1964, and became the song that would launch her music career. Her version also has strings and an acoustic guitar, and that was several months before Paul McCartney finished writing Yesterday. It’s also common for ballads to have acoustic guitars in them to give the song a soft, gentle sound like in: Tell Me, Lady Jane, Ruby Tuesday, Backstreet Girl, Wild Horses, Angie, etc, etc. Let’s also try to take into account that most songs are written with an acoustic guitar, so I really don’t get the acoustic guitar comparison to begin with.

    There was also a rumor that the Stones released their version of As Tears Go By as a single in America to compete with Yesterday. This is untrue as well. The Rolling Stones version of As Tears Go By was originally released in America by London Records as a filler track for a compilation album called December’s Children. When December’s Children was released radio stations immediately began playing As Tears Go By because of the commercial success Marianne Faithfull had with her version month’s earlier, so due to popular demand London Records decided to release the Stones version as a single where it had advance orders of an astounding half a million copies. Come to think of it, since As Tears Go By originally came out by Marianne Faithfull first with an acoustic guitar and strings, and then the Beatles released Yesterday months later with an acoustic guitar and strings, can I say the Beatles were the ones who copied, or does it not work that way?

    In My Life— George Martin on speeded up piano to sound like harpsichord, released December 1965.
    Lady Jane— Brian Jones on dulcimer for Elizabethan sound, released July 1966.

    By the way, Lady Jane also has a harpsichord in it, so what does a dulcimer have to do with a speeded up piano to sound like a harpsichord when the song has a harpsichord in it already? The Rolling Stones had been using harpsichords before In My Life. Actually, harpsichords were in a lot of songs in the Sixties.

    Norwegian Wood— first use of sitar, released December 1965.
    Paint It Black— uses sitar, released May 1966.

    An Indian sitar was one of many, many instruments Brian Jones played in Rolling Stones songs in the Sixties. If you are implying that Brian Jones put a sitar in Paint It Black just simply because George Harrison used one on Norwegian Wood, I think there’s more to it than that. You use instruments in a song because it sounds appropriate for the song – you don’t put an instrument in a song simply because the Beatles used it – it’s more complex than that. Everything a musician does have to do with SOUND. Musicians are very intrigued by the sound that comes out of an instrument and not necessarily by who’s playing it. Granted, someone famous like George Harrison can bring an instrument like a sitar more to the public eye, but the bottom line is you have to like the sound of the instrument in order to want to play it and use it in a song. I would be more willing to believe that Brian Jones played a sitar for the same reason that George Harrison played one – because he liked the sound of the sitar – and that’s the same reason why he used it in Paint It Black, because it had the right sound for the song.

    As a matter of fact, in the May 21, 1966 issue of Record Mirror magazine there was an article titled: “Paint It Black Was Not Meant To Have Sitar Backing At First”. The article was about how the Stones’ came about using a sitar for Paint It Black.

    “Despite all the moaning about the Stones copying the Beatles by using a sitar on Paint It Black, it’s still one of the best records to be issued for some time. There is also a perfectly valid reason for the use of a sitar. Keith explained: “As we had the sitars, we thought we’d try them out in the studio. To get the right sound on this song, we found the sitar fitted perfectly. We tried a guitar but you can’t bend it enough.”

    That pretty much sums it up. The Stones’ used a sitar in Paint It Black after some failed attempts at trying to get a certain sound by bending notes on a guitar. They tried the sitar and it “fitted perfectly” to me means it had the right sound for the song. I can’t picture any serious musician who cares about how his songs sound, just sticking an instrument in a song because the Beatles used it. Just because the Beatles had success using a sitar for their song doesn’t mean it’s going to sound appropriate for what you’re recording. As Brian Jones said in an interview from the June1966 issue of Beat Instrumental, when asked to comment on those who were saying the Stones’ were ‘copying’ the Beatles for using a sitar his reply was “What utter rubbish. You might as well say we copy all the other groups by playing guitar.” I agree with Brian Jones 100 percent. A musical instrument is a musical instrument whether it is a sitar or a guitar. How about the when Brian Jones played the dulcimer on Lady Jane or a xylophone on Under My Thumb, which the Beatles never used. What was his reason for playing those instruments? Who was he copying off of then? Also, those songs were recorded during the same session he played the sitar on Paint It Black, the March, 1966 at RCA Studios in Hollywood.

    Eleanor Rigby— about a lonely spinster who “lives in a dream” and “dies in a church”, again using a string quartet, released August 1966.
    Ruby Tuesday— about a woman who must “catch her dreams before they slip away” and is “dying all the time” fake quartet with Brian Jones playing recorder and piano, and double bass played jointly by Bill Wyman (pressing the strings against the fingerboard) with Keith Richards (bowing the strings), released January 1967.

    This is new to me. I thought this was going to be the Paint It Black is a copy of Eleanor Rigby because of the lyrics about death. Well, before that one starts, let me say that Paint It Black was recorded about six weeks ‘before’ (March 3 – 8, 1966 at RCA studios, Hollywood) Eleanor Rigby (April 28 -29, June 6, 1966 at EMI studios, London). I guess someone did the same research, as I did, and didn’t want people to say the Beatles were copying the Stones’, so they came up with the Ruby Tuesday comparison.

    Got to Get You Into My Life— made prominent use of a brass section, recorded June 1966.
    Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?— first Stones recording to feature brass horns, released September 1966.

    Same as the Indian sitar Paint It Black/Norwegian Wood comparison. You put an instrument in a song because it sounds right for the song. If the Stones’ didn’t feel as though the horns sounded right for Have You Seen Your Mother, it wouldn’t be in the song, regardless if the Beatles used them or not.

    All You Need Is Love—features backing vocals by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, released July 1967.
    We Love You—features backing vocals by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released August 1967.

    All You Need Is Love is about peace and love whereas We Love You is a ‘thank you’ to all their fans for all the moral support they gave Mick and Keith after they had been arrested for drug possession in 1967. Musically these two songs also sound nothing alike. Mick Jagger did an interview which appeared in an August 1967 issue of one of the British music publications about the We Love You single, stating he wrote the song four months earlier. That would be April 1967. Did he know anything about All You Need Is Love in April?

    Revolution— addresses riots and protests in Sixties political landscape and offers a “solution”, released August 1968.
    Street Fighting Man— addresses riots and protests in Sixties political landscape and offers a “compromise solution”, released August 1968.

    A lot of songs were written about protests in the Sixties.

    You Can’t Always Get What You Want— Jagger said in 1969, “I liked the way the Beatles did that with ‘Hey Jude’. The orchestra was not just to cover everything up— it was something extra. We may do something like that on the next album.”

    And?

    The Rolling Stones— World’s Second Greatest Rock Band. Case closed.

    No. Case still open.

  5. jpoll3 says:

    Ron,
    Thanks for your post. I appreciate your passion in support of the Stones. I’m also a Stones fan. I think that if you had read the entire article you’d have seen that I make your initial points myself in that choosing one band over the other is a matter of “personal taste.” I actually prefer Led Zeppelin over the Stones but the point of the article was in response to someone who was of the mistaken impression that the Stones were a “rock” band and the Beatles were a “pop” band. As you say – they were both influenced by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Elvis and Little Richard, among others.

    I also make the point that the Stones were more of a straight “blues” band where the Beatles played blues changes in a faster, more “rock” or as they called it at the time “pop” sound.

    Regarding the comparisons of the songs, it was John Lennon’s statement that the Stones copied the Beatles that prompted my investigation into comparing them head-to-head in their Sixties releases and album covers.

    I Feel Fine vs. Satisfaction- You say you don’t get the comparison. The comparison is that the Beatles used feedback first and the Stones followed with a fuzz tone guitar sound. You say you don’t see a comparison in lyrics. They are both first person statements and exactly as you said “one “is a love song” and the other is about “anger and frustration” – the opposite feeling. I referred to them as “mirror opposites.”

    Help vs Get Off My Cloud- Actually they were the only bands at the time to write songs reflecting their success because they were the only bands writing their own songs who were also experiencing that level of success. In a 1995 Rolling Stone magazine interview with Mick Jagger, Jann Wenner refers to Play With Fire as the “first song you wrote that starts to address class.” To which Mick replies “No one had really done that. The Beatles, to some extent, were doing it. The Kinks were kind of doing it. I didn’t even realize I was doing it at the time.” Again he was following the Beatles’ lead.

    19th Nervous Breakdown vs. I Feel Fine- You say the opening riffs don’t sound similar to you. I’m not a music composer but they sound similar to me the way the opening notes descend and then ascend. I Feel Fine was released in November 1964 so thanks for pointing out my mistake there in saying it was December. 19th Nervous Breakdown was released in January 1966, as you say, but it was recoded in December 1965, a year after I Feel Fine.

    Yesterday vs. As Tears Go By- You are correct in pointing out that As Tears Go By was written before Yesterday and given to Marianne Faithfull, for whom it was a hit. Her version is notable for its use of an oboe. But the Stones didn’t record their version until October 1965. The Beatles (actually Paul McCartney and George Martin) recorded Yesterday in August 1964 and released it the following month. So my point that the Stones emulated the string arrangement on the Beatles song remains accurate, though I take your point that Faithfull’s version was first and had strings on it.

    In My Life vs. Lady Jane- You are correct that Lady Jane has a harpsichord on it like In My Life but the dulcimer is the principle sound throughout. The point is that the Beatles were going for an Elizabethan sound and the Stones followed with an Elizabethan sound seven months later. You are wrong about the Stones using a harpsichord before In My Life. The first album Brian Jones played a harpsichord on is Between the Buttons recorded August, November and December of 1966, a year after In My Life.

    Norwegian Wood vs. Paint It Black- After your description of why musicians use certain instruments for a particular song, you say you believe “Brian Jones played a sitar for the same reason that George Harrison played one- “because he liked the sound of the sitar.” While this is probably correct, the point is that Jones still played and recorded the sitar after Harrison did.

    Eleanor Rigby vs. Ruby Tuesday- I don’t get your point of comparing Eleanor Rigby to Paint It Black just so you could point out that Paint It Black was recorded first. The comparison I made was in the similarity of the overall theme and specific lyrics in Ruby Tuesday that are so much like the earlier recorded Eleanor Rigby.

    Got to Get You Into My Life vs. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?- Your point that musicians chose instruments because they “sound right for the song” doesn’t change the fact that once again when the Beatles introduced a specific type of instrument, in this case- horns, the Stones followed with the same “choice” of instruments.

    All You Need Is Love vs. 
We Love You- Actually these songs show the friendship that existed between the bands. Lennon and McCartney sang backup for the Stones on their track and the Stones sat at the feet of the Beatles for the live broadcast of All You Need Is Love, providing backup vocals on the chorus.

    Revolution vs. 
Street Fighting Man- Yes there were “lots of protest songs” in the Sixties and Bob Dylan actually lay the groundwork for them but your statement doesn’t negate the fact that the Stones song was similar to and followed after the Beatles song.

    You Can’t Always Get What You Want vs. Hey Jude- Here you simply ask “And?” I think the point is perfectly clear on this comparison since it’s Mick Jagger himself admitting that the Stones emulated the Beatles.

    As for your statement about never hearing the “Stones’ confess to any of these comparisons,” I’ll leave you with the following interviews:

    Rolling Stone interview with Keith Richards, August 19, 1971-
    R. S.- “John Lennon said that the Stones did things two months after the Beatles. A lot of people say Satanic Majesties is just Sgt. Pepper upside down.”
    Richards- “Maybe we were doing it a little bit after them. Anyway, we were just following them through so many scenes.”

    R. S.- Did Let It Bleed have anything to do with Let It Be?
    Richards- At first he denies it, “Not a thing.” But then he admits, “… maybe there was some influence because Let It Be had been kicked around for years for their movie, for that album.”

    Keith was perhaps still too close to the rivalry in that interview since the Beatles had only split up a year and a half before, but in 1995, a more mature Mick Jagger gave a more honest answer:

    Rolling Stone interview with Mick Jagger Richards, December 14, 1995-
    R. S.- “Looking back, what was the relationship between the Stones and the Beatles?”
    Jagger- “Super, highly competitive – but friendly. “

    R. S.- “Weren’t you particularly compared with the Beatles, though?”
    Jagger- “The Beatles were so big that it’s hard for people not alive at the time to realize. There isn’t a real comparison with anyone now. I suppose Michael Jackson at one point, but it still doesn’t seem quite the same. To be competitive with them was impossible. They were huge.”

    R. S.- “Bigger than Jesus?”
    Jagger- “They were bigger than Jesus!”

    R. S.- “And you were Band Two after that.”
    Jagger- “Yeah. Like Avis.”

    After some questions about John Lennon, the interviewer asks, “Do you think John deserves his huge reputation? The Beatles being the greatest group?”
    Jagger- “They were the Beatles. They were this forerunning, breakthrough item and that’s hard to overestimate.”

    Again I say, “Case closed.” But thanks for playing.

    • Rob Weingartner says:

      Jake, thanks for your response. But I have to respond back about some of the things you wrote.

      Yes, I am aware of the interview John Lennon did. Just because John Lennon says something doesn’t make it gospel fact. I did not know John Lennon personally, but he came across as someone who would knock anybody and anything if he was pissed about something. I don’t even think John Lennon would make some of the following comparisons you make.

      I Feel Fine vs. Satisfaction- You say you don’t get the comparison. The comparison is that the Beatles used feedback first and the Stones followed with a fuzz tone guitar sound.
      Jake, I don’t understand how feedback has anything to do with fuzz tone at all. They are two different things completely. Feedback is something that is made by holding an electric guitar too close to an amplifier or a microphone. A fuzz box is something you hook up to an electric guitar to change the sound of the guitar. Feedback in “I Feel Fine” is only for the first few seconds of the song whereas the fuzz tone on “Satisfaction” is used throughout the entire song. Comparing feedback to fuzz tone is comparing apples and oranges.
      You say you don’t see a comparison in lyrics. They are both first person statements and exactly as you said “one “is a love song” and the other is about “anger and frustration” – the opposite feeling. I referred to them as “mirror opposites.”
      Most songs are first person statements. Here’s a line from “As Tears Go By” “I sit and watch as tears go by” – that’s a first person statement which was written before “Satisfaction”. I thought you were making comparisons to things that are similar, now you’re saying the songs are ‘mirror opposites’. You can compare “Satisfaction” as a mirror opposite to a lot of Beatles songs, why are you pointing out “I Feel Fine”?

      Help vs Get Off My Cloud- Actually they were the only bands at the time to write songs reflecting their success because they were the only bands writing their own songs who were also experiencing that level of success. In a 1995 Rolling Stone magazine interview with Mick Jagger, Jann Wenner refers to Play With Fire as the “first song you wrote that starts to address class.” To which Mick replies “No one had really done that. The Beatles, to some extent, were doing it. The Kinks were kind of doing it. I didn’t even realize I was doing it at the time.” Again he was following the Beatles’ lead.
      How are the Stones following the Beatles lead on this?
      19th Nervous Breakdown vs. I Feel Fine- You say the opening riffs don’t sound similar to you. I’m not a music composer but they sound similar to me the way the opening notes descend and then ascend.
      Jake, every song has notes that ‘descend’ and ‘ascend’. What were the Stones fixated with “I Feel Fine”?
      Yesterday vs. As Tears Go By- You are correct in pointing out that As Tears Go By was written before Yesterday and given to Marianne Faithfull, for whom it was a hit. Her version is notable for its use of an oboe. But the Stones didn’t record their version until October 1965. The Beatles (actually Paul McCartney and George Martin) recorded Yesterday in August 1964 and released it the following month. So my point that the Stones emulated the string arrangement on the Beatles song remains accurate, though I take your point that Faithfull’s version was first and had strings on it.
      Jake, I think the Stones were emulating Marianne Faithfull’s version. This is from the December 18, 1965 issue of KRLA Beat:
      “But the Stones declare they are not pulling a Beatles at all. The string backing was the only possible way of doing the song justice. Somehow “As Tears Go By” just wouldn’t be the same wailed in the usual Jagger manner with the usual R & B backing.”
      If anything I would give this more of a Phil Spector credit as Andrew Oldham was trying to emulate himself after Spector and the Wall Of Sound that by creating something called Impact Sound.
      In My Life vs. Lady Jane- You are correct that Lady Jane has a harpsichord on it like In My Life but the dulcimer is the principle sound throughout. The point is that the Beatles were going for an Elizabethan sound and the Stones followed with an Elizabethan sound seven months later. You are wrong about the Stones using a harpsichord before In My Life. The first album Brian Jones played a harpsichord on is Between the Buttons recorded August, November and December of 1966, a year after In My Life.
      “In My Life” sounds nothing like an Elizabethan sounding song at all. It’s possible that might have been the Beatles original intention but the version of “In My Life” that was released sounds nothing like an Elizabethan song. Also, I am not wrong about the Stones using a harpsichord before “In My Life”. The Stones use a harpsichord on “Play With Fire” (the flip side to “The Last Time) which was recorded in January 1965. “In My Life” by the Beatles wasn’t recorded until October 1965. You can hear the harpsichord on “Play With Fire” about 0:26 into the song. Are the Beatles following the Stones lead here? Here’s a quote about the recording of “Play With Fire”:
      “The song was recorded late one night in January 1965 while the Stones were in Los Angeles recording with Phil Spector at the RCA Studios. Richards performed the song’s acoustic guitar opening while Jagger handled vocals and tambourine (enhanced using an echo chamber). Spector played bass (actually a tuned-down electric guitar), and Jack Nitzche provided the song’s distinctive harpsichord arrangement and tamtams.”
      Norwegian Wood vs. Paint It Black- After your description of why musicians use certain instruments for a particular song, you say you believe “Brian Jones played a sitar for the same reason that George Harrison played one- “because he liked the sound of the sitar.” While this is probably correct, the point is that Jones still played and recorded the sitar after Harrison did.
      Does that mean George Harrison copied off of Ravi Shankar?
      Eleanor Rigby vs. Ruby Tuesday- I don’t get your point of comparing Eleanor Rigby to Paint It Black just so you could point out that Paint It Black was recorded first. The comparison I made was in the similarity of the overall theme and specific lyrics in Ruby Tuesday that are so much like the earlier recorded Eleanor Rigby.
      I pointed out the “Paint It Black” comparison because like I wrote, that’s the comparison I’m more familiar with. I really don’t get the comparison between the lyrics of “Eleanor Rigby” and “Ruby Tuesday” at all.
      Got to Get You Into My Life vs. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?- Your point that musicians chose instruments because they “sound right for the song” doesn’t change the fact that once again when the Beatles introduced a specific type of instrument, in this case- horns, the Stones followed with the same “choice” of instruments.
      Jake, how do you know the Stones got the idea to use horns from the Beatles “G0t To Get You Into My Life”? The Stones were also listening to a lot of Otis Redding and James Brown at the time who both used horns in their songs.
      All You Need Is Love vs. We Love You- Actually these songs show the friendship that existed between the bands. Lennon and McCartney sang backup for the Stones on their track and the Stones sat at the feet of the Beatles for the live broadcast of All You Need Is Love, providing backup vocals on the chorus.
      Revolution vs. Street Fighting Man- Yes there were “lots of protest songs” in the Sixties and Bob Dylan actually lay the groundwork for them but your statement doesn’t negate the fact that the Stones song was similar to and followed after the Beatles song.
      Did you know that “Street Fighting Man” was recorded ‘before’ “Revolution”? “Street Fighting Man” was recorded in March – May, 1968 and “Revolution” was recorded in July 1968. So how could it have ‘followed’ the Beatles song when it was recorded ‘before’ it? You don’t go by release dates of records; you should go by when they were recorded. Here’s what Mick Jagger said about the inspiration for the lyrics to “Street Fighting Man”:
      “Yeah, it was a direct inspiration, because by contrast, London was very quiet…It was a very strange time in France. But not only in France but also in America, because of the Vietnam War and these endless disruptions. …I thought it was a very good thing at the time. There was all this violence going on. I mean, they almost toppled the government in France; DeGaulle went into this complete funk, as he had in the past, and he went and sort of locked himself in his house in the country. And so the government was almost inactive. And the French riot police were amazing.”
      Some of the lyrics were also influenced by a protest in which Mick Jagger wanted to take part in outside the U.S. Embassy in London regarding the Vietnam War.

      You Can’t Always Get What You Want vs. Hey Jude- Here you simply ask “And?” I think the point is perfectly clear on this comparison since it’s Mick Jagger himself admitting that the Stones emulated the Beatles.
      Jake, the reason why I asked “And?” is because Mick Jagger doesn’t say anything in the quote about “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. It sounds like you are assuming it was “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. There is no orchestra in “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” so why are you mentioning that song? How do you know the Stones didn’t try to do something with an orchestra and never released it because it didn’t come out right. I don’t understand where “You Can’t Always
      Get” comes into it.

  6. Charlie says:

    I am interersted in posting my views on the Beatles Stones debate. I must weigh in on the Satisfaction/ I feel fine debate. First off, Fuzz Tone guitar is not feedback. Feedback occurs when the gain on an instrument is too high. The result is an unstable wave of sound that sounds like a high ringing sound coming thriough the anplifier. Using a fuzz tone guitar sound throughout the entire song is not the same as producing feedback for three seconds in the beginning of a song. Any guitar player who uses an amplifier does not need anybody else to school them on feedback.
    You say that both songs are first person statements. Just about every song since the beginning of time is written in the first person. I don’t get why The Rolling Stones in 1964 are being singled out for writing a song in the first person This is a staple in songwriting.. I know of some etrhnic songs that were written hundreds of years ago that were written in the first person.

    Sincerely,

    Charlie

  7. jpoll3 says:

    Hi Charlie,
    Thanks for your comment. Yes, I know the difference between feedback and a fuzz tone guitar. I’ve been playing guitar since 1970 though I’m the first to admit I’m not that good at it. But I know how feedback occurs. It was John Lennon leaning his plugged-in acoustic guitar against his amp speaker that caused the feedback and he liked the sound so they put it at the opening of “I Feel Fine”. The fuzz tone is an effect added to the guitar throughout “Satisfaction.” My comment is simply that they sound similar and perhaps the Stones were influenced by the Beatles to use a distorted sound.

    I only pointed out that both songs are in the first person in response to Rob who didn’t see the comparison. They are both first person – as are many songs – but one is about how good the singer feels because he’s in love and the other is about how dissatisfied the singer is with everything around him so they are “mirror opposites.” I wasn’t singling the Stones out for writing in the first person. I was singling them out for writing a counter to the Beatles “I Feel Fine.”

    Jagger may not have been thinking specifically of “I Feel Fine” when he wrote “Satisfaction” but by his own admission, everyone imitated the Beatles. The Dave Clark Five were the best band at imitating the “pop” sound of the Beatles but when the Beatles moved away from that sound to a more experimental sound, they were left in the dust with no way to keep up. The Stones – to their credit – did the best job of following the Beatles’ lead.

  8. jpoll3 says:

    Hi Rob,
    No, I don’t think everything Lennon said was “gospel fact” but in terms of the Stones imitating the Beatles, he was right. Even Jagger and Richards admitted it as shown in the interviews I quoted.

    You may be right about the specific examples I listed not being a comparison Lennon would make. It’s just my speculation on the larger point he was making. The Stones were only one band that followed the Beatles but they’re the only band I hear people say were “better” than the Beatles.

    You may prefer Pink Floyd or some other band that came afterwards but for those of us who were buying records when the Beatles were releasing them, it was as Jagger said – they were light years ahead of everyone else. Those of you who are 10 or more years younger than myself are comparing a body of work and the Stones have five times the catalog because they stayed together (off and on) as a band.

    The Beatles recorded between 1962 and 1970. The article I wrote a couple years ago just attempts to point out to a younger generation that it’s fine to be more of a Stones fan or a Steely Dan fan, or any other group, but you should compare apples to apples by comparing the Beatles’ songs to only what was recorded within those same years.

    Take a look at the Billboard Top 100 or any other source of music released in those years and actually listen to the songs. It will help explain how even a “ditty” like “Love Me Do” or “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was groundbreaking at the time. You can actually hear the drums and the guitars and two or three lead singers together.

    Then follow every year from 1963 to 1966 and see (or rather hear) how the rest of the music world followed the Beatles lead. And as soon as everyone else jumped on their bandwagon – the Beatles raised the bar by introducing something new.

    The Stones followed close behind with some incredible songs of their own but always just after the Beatles did it. You don’t have to take my word for it – or Jagger’s. I challenge anyone to objectively play the Beatles and Stones side-by-side, starting with their first couple of albums and progress year-by-year. You may still prefer the Stones sound but you’ll have to admit the Beatles got there first with every innovation and next level of musicianship and production value.

    We can continue to debate but I doubt I’ll change your mind and I know you won’t change mine because I’ve been comparing these songs since they were first played on AM radio in the Sixties.

    You may think I’m “coping out” by not going song-by-song and if you insist we can but I’d rather talk about things we agree on.

    • Rob Weingartner says:

      “No, I don’t think everything Lennon said was “gospel fact” but in terms of the Stones imitating the Beatles, he was right. Even Jagger and Richards admitted it as shown in the interviews I quoted.”
      No Jake, he wasn’t right. John Lennon was getting a little carried away during that interview. Personally I think you were taking quotes by Mick Jagger completely out of context and giving them your own meaning. You did not quote Mick Jagger as giving any examples of what he meant by saying “we followed the Beatles lead”. If Mick Jagger did say that I doubt he was referring to the comparisons you were making. You have an alleged quote by Mick Jagger commenting on the song “Hey Jude” and you are assuming the Stones answered with the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Just out of curiosity, do you know the original source of that quote? You did not have one quote by Mick Jagger or Keith Richards confessing to any specific song comparisons you made. The one by Keith Richards commenting on Let It Bleed/Let It Be, he says “maybe there was some influence” is not the same as saying “it was an influence” – hardly a confession. Also, just out of curiosity, is it possible Keith might have been getting a little confused himself? Yes, the Beatles were filming the making of the album that would become known as “Let It Be,” but at the time of the recording/filming of the album it was originally going to be called ‘Get Back’. My question is this: was the title “Let It Be” even known publicly until the Beatles decided to change the album/film title in early1970? According to Wikipedia, both the album and film were going to be called “Get Back” until early 1970 when the Beatles decided to change the album title and film title to “Let It Be” – several months ‘after’ the Stones released the album “Let It Bleed”. So what is Keith Richards actually confessing to?
      “You may be right about the specific examples I listed not being a comparison Lennon would make. It’s just my speculation on the larger point he was making. The Stones were only one band that followed the Beatles but they’re the only band I hear people say were “better” than the Beatles.”
      Jake, to say one band is better than another is a matter of opinion. There is nothing wrong with someone saying they think Rolling Stones music is better than Beatles music. People are allowed to say that. I happen to be one person who thinks Stones music (from 1963 – 1970) is better than Beatles music. Do I like Beatles music? Of course, there one of my favorite bands, but I definitely enjoy Stones’ music more.
      “The Beatles recorded between 1962 and 1970. The article I wrote a couple years ago just attempts to point out to a younger generation that it’s fine to be more of a Stones fan or a Steely Dan fan, or any other group, but you should compare apples to apples by comparing the Beatles’ songs to only what was recorded within those same years.”
      Jake, I agree with you about comparing apples to apples and comparing music recorded during the same years rather than pointing out what the Stones did years after the Beatles broke up. However, I’m not comparing anything the Stones did after the Beatles broke up as a band. Also, you say it should be a “apples to apples” comparison. I agree with you, but that’s not what you’re doing. You are comparing apples to oranges. You’re comparing Keith Richards using a fuzz-box on “Satisfaction” as a response to John Lennon’s use of feedback on “I Feel Fine”, which is one of the most ridiculous comparisons I’ve ever heard. You are claiming Brian Jones played a mountain dulcimer on “Lady Jane” to give the song an Elizabethan influence in response to George Martin playing a speeded up piano, to emulate the sound of a harpsichord, to give “In My Life” an Elizabethan influenced sound? And I didn’t even get into the album cover comparisons yet: ‘The Rolling Stones, Now!’ album cover was a response to the ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ album cover because of “photos in boxes”? The banned Rolling Stones ‘Beggars Banquet’ album cover was a response to the Beatles banned ‘Yesterday And Today’ butcher cover? The Rolling Stones ‘Out Of Our Heads/December’s Children’ album cover was a response to ‘The Beatles For Sale’ album cover because, let me see if I have this right, the Stones album cover was a “partially obscured out-of-focus urban shot” whereas the Beatles album cover was a “partially obscured out-of-focus nature shot”? My God, how do you come up with these comparisons? And you’re talking about making apples to apples comparisons”?
      “Then follow every year from 1963 to 1966 and see (or rather hear) how the rest of the music world followed the Beatles lead.”
      How were the Stones following the Beatles lead by playing American Blues and Soul music from 1963 to 1966? From that time period the Rolling Stones were playing covers of a lot of American Blues and Soul singers such as: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter Jacob, Otis Redding and Solomon Burke. You didn’t hear these artists associated much with the Beatles at all during this times period. You can even hear a Blues influence in some of the early Jagger/Richards compositions like “Good Times Bad Times,” “Heart Of Stone,” “The Spider And The Fly” and “Goin’ Home.”
      “The Stones followed close behind with some incredible songs of their own but always just after the Beatles did it. You don’t have to take my word for it – or Jagger’s. I challenge anyone to objectively play the Beatles and Stones side-by-side, starting with their first couple of albums and progress year-by-year.”
      The side by side comparisons are completely blown out of proportion. Was there an influence at times, yes, but I honestly think a lot of the comparisons people made between songs and album covers were six degrees of separation – people seeing what they want to see. Back in the Sixties you had this big question that existed among music fans: “who’s better, the Beatles or Stones?” I honestly think that one way of settling the dispute was by trying to make the Stones look like Beatles copycats. If everything the Stones’ did they copied from the Beatles than there really shouldn’t be any question as to “who’s better, the Beatles or Stones?”. Also, there are occasionally going to be similarities when bands are being influenced by the same things.
      Album cover comparison’s next.
      Rob

  9. Rob Weingartner says:

    BEATLES AND ROLLING STONES ALBUM COVER COMPARISONS

    “With the Beatles released November 1963 with chiaroscuro side-lit faces.
    The Rolling Stones (1st album) released April 1964 with side-lit faces.”

    This is a newer comparison, unlike most which go back to the Sixties. I think most of these album cover comparisons are really stretching it. When bands do photo shoots a lot of times it is the photographer who comes up with idea and the band just does what the photographer tells them. Not all the Stones are in half shadows. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts can be seen clearly. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones are in very light shadows. On the other hand you can only see the Beatles faces in their album cover, whereas the Stones you can see most of their bodies from the waist up, so there is a big difference as well. We have no idea if this half shadow thing was deliberate, and if it was, whose idea was it, the Stones or the photographers? Personally, I never thought of making this comparison until I saw it on a web site.

    “A Hard Day’s Night released July 1964. The Beatles in boxes.
    The Rolling Stones Now released February 1965. The Stones in boxes.”

    Some of these comparisons are difficult to digest because it’s hard for me to even see the similarities. Let me see if I understand this, the Rolling Stones, Now! is a copy off of A Hard Day’s Night because the photos on each album cover are in boxes? That’s a pretty bad comparison.

    “Beatles For Sale released December 1964. Partially obscured, out-of-focus nature shot.
    Out of Our Heads released September 1965. Partially obscured, out-of-focus urban shot.”

    I’ve read quite a bit about the Out Of Our Heads photo session and not once ever heard Gered Mankowitz ever mention anything about the Beatles being any kind of influence on his photos. I recently contacted him and asked him to comment on this claim of his album cover being a response to the Beatles For Sale album cover. He didn’t think it was worth a debate, but I will say that he denied it had anything to do with the Beatles For Sale album cover and he didn’t see how anyone can make the comparison. Just what I thought – complete nonsense. A terrible comparison.

    “Rubber Soul released December 1965. Tilted angle, shot from below.
    Aftermath released April 1966. Tilted angle, shot from above.”

    WOW! Another one I would have never thought of comparing. I think people have too much time on their hands.

    “The banned Butcher cover for Yesterday and Today, released June 1966 then recalled— the Beatles’ commentary on the Viet Nam War.
    The banned cover of Beggar’s Banquet, unreleased until the CD came out, photographed in the summer of 1968.”

    Are you trying to say the Rolling Stones’ Beggar’s Banquet album cover was their answer to the ‘Butcher cover? The Stones deliberately tried to do an album cover that would be banned so they can say to people “hey, we can get an album cover banned too.” Why on the face of this earth would the Stones want to deliberately get an album banned so it can delay the release of the album, which this did by several month’s? I’m not sure if that’s what you are implying, but that’s how I’m interpreting it.

    Here’s a link to an interview John Lennon did in 1974, where he talks about the Beatles butcher cover. I don’t think he says anything about it being the Beatles commentary to the Vietnam War.

    “Revolver released August 1966.
    Illustration on front, group photo on back.
    Between the Buttons released January 1967.
    Illustration on back, group photo on front.”

    I have to scratch my head. These comparison’s are comical. Jake, are you serious with these comparions? Do you really believe this?

    “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band released June 1967
    Their Satanic Majesties Request released December 1967. The lenticular photo by Michael Cooper is similar to the Sgt. Pepper cover (also shot by Cooper) but also look at how similar the blue and white background is to Magical Mystery Tour.”

    This is probably one of the stronger comparisons, not because Their Satanic necessarily looks like Sgt. Pepper, but you can tell it’s from the same era as Pepper. Besides getting knocked for copying the Beatles by making Their Satanic, The Stones have often been criticized for copying the Beatles for using Michael Cooper to do the album cover. Actually, Michael Cooper was a very big part of the Stones clique and had been photographing the Stones as early as 1966 – before he did the Sgt Pepper album cover (I believe March 1967). The reason why the Stones used him for the Their Satanic album cover was because he told them about a place called Pictorial Studios in Mount Vernon, New York that had a special camera that took lenticular images and suggested it might be ideal for a new album cover (most likely because it was a psychedelic album).

    As for the Magical Mystery Tour background, I don’t see it. These two albums were released only eleven days apart (Magical Mytery Tour, Nov 27 – Their Satanic, Dec 8), therefore, I doubt the Stones were able to put something together that quick.

    Here’s what Tony Meeuwissen had to say about his design for the Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request album cover border design used on the front and back of the album. According to this interview, I would say the blue and white background had nothing to do with the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour album cover border.

    “I briefly met two Rolling Stones in 1967, writes Tony Meeuwissen, thanks to Al Vandenberg, the American master photographer (then an innovative art director) and my only genuine art teacher.
    He taught me not to do things as others did, but to approach every new venture with fresh eyes, without preconceptions of how things had been done before.I spent a long weekend painting a border of the four elements, Earth, Water, Air and Fire. I couldn’t think of anything else. Michael did use it, but put it on the back cover. For the front, he used fluffy white clouds on a blue background around his 3D image.”

    “The Beatles (White Album) released November 1968
    Beggar’s Banquet released December 1968”

    Anyone who knows the story behind the original photograph the Stones wanted to use for the Beggar’s Banquet album cover knows that if it were up to the Stones the album cover would have looked completely different then the way it was released.

    The Beggar’s Banquet album was originally due for release in the summer of 1968, but there was a delay in its release because the record company refused to put out the album with a photograph of a lavatory because they thought it was of poor taste for showing part of the toilet bowl. This resulted in the albums release being delayed for several months which infuriated the Stones. After numerous months had passed the Stones decided to give into the record company and change the album cover design so they could catch Christmas sales. The Stones decided to make a simpler album cover by making it look like an invitation to a party. In some countries the album cover had a slight yellowish look to it with a gold rim around the edges along with the album title, the Stones name, the name of the songs, album credits and the initials RSVP – all in fancy script writing to look like an invitation. Unfortunately in some other countries the album had an all white cover with the title and credits. But due to the all-white album cover that came out in some countries, people criticized the Stones for copying the White Album cover. Of course this is not true as it was denied by the band. Any similarities between the album covers were a coincidence and nothing more. Again, both albums were released just two weeks apart (White Album Nov 22, Beggars Banquet Dec 6). I am sure the Stones had agreed to the new album cover design before the White Album was released to give the record company ample time to print up the cover, press the records, package the record and promote the album. Awfully hard to do all that in just two weeks.

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