We've been counting down, and now we are getting into the true heavyweights. The Regular Son and I have the same top 7, although in slightly different orders. But there's no denying the greatness of the remaining songs. Here's where we stand:
20. Loving Cup (Exile on Main Street)
19. Wild Horses (Sticky Fingers)
18. Bitch (Sticky Fingers)
17. Monkey Man (Let it Bleed)
16. Let it Loose (Exile)
15. Prodigal Son (Beggar's Banquet)
14. Can't You Hear Me Knocking (Sticky Fingers)
13. Shattered (Some Girls)
12. Happy (Exile)
11. Rocks Off (Exile)
10. (tie) Jumping Jack Flash (single only)
10. (tie) Street Fighting Man (Beggar's Banquet)
9. You Can't Always Get What You Want (Let It Bleed)
8. Honky Tonk Woman (single only)
At number 7 (drum roll please)....
7. Midnight Rambler
The 1960s were about a lot of things. Freedom. Liberation. Civil rights. Community. Peace. Love. At least that's what the boomer liberals want to tell you. But the 1960s were also about sexual license, violence, drugs, disorder, mayhem, and murder. Some of rock and roll captured the former, some the latter. Imagine the late 1960s from the perspective of a middle-class father, a World War II veteran perhaps, hard-working, married, church-going, conservative. What would he think if he saw pictures of Woodstock? What would he think if he saw pictures of Altamont? Are we really so unsympathetic to disparage him if he wondered to himself whether this was what he had risked his life for, these unruly, long-haired, violent college kids?
If you were a college kid who grew up in suburbia in peacetime, chaos might look exciting. But if you fought your way ashore on D-Day when you were about the same age, chaos doesn't look so hot. Chaos means battle, and battle means death or dismemberment or disfigurement for you or your friends.
The Rolling Stones, maybe more than any other band, captured the sheer menace of the late 1960s, and none of their songs does that more than the second-side opener for Let It Bleed, the rape-murder-serial killer fantasy, "Midnight Rambler." I don't think there's ever been another song like it.