This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #107: Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) by The Rolling Stones.
Let me start this post off with a bit of an editorial comment.
When I first played around with the idea of telling the stories behind some of the top 500 songs of all-time, my hope was to eliminate some of the “accidental ignorance” we all display when we bop along to an inappropriate song without being aware of what that song really means. My specific inspiration was that I wanted my girls to know that some of the songs they would sing to on the radio were, actually, songs written by men about their sexual fantasies regarding young women. I would never tell Leah and Sophie that they couldn’t listen to a certain song but, by providing some information, I would allow them to make their own, informed decisions about what sort of influences they wanted to bring into their lives. Some girls like being fussed and fawned over that way. To each her own, I suppose. But, at least, armed with the proper information, listeners can decide if a particular song is right for them or not and go on from there.
This sort of mindset comes into play with the song that was supposed to be listed here at spot #107…..”Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones. I fully and completely admit that for most of my life, I never really listened to the lyrics for this song. I sort of tuned in at the part that went,
“You should of heard her just around midnight!”
I always believed that “Brown Sugar” was simply a bawdy song about inter-racial sex. I have no issue with inter-racial sex when it is between consenting adults. So, I happily bopped along with this song and considered it on par with the other big hits by The Rolling Stones such as “Jumping Jack Flash”, “Satisfaction”, “Sympathy for the Devil”, “Gimme Shelter” and so on. But recently, in a decision that had nothing to do with me, I read that The Rolling Stones had decided to drop “Brown Sugar” from their concert playlist because the song was “no longer appropriate”. My uninformed reaction was that maybe this was a little bit of political correctness run amok. But, instead of over-reacting and composing outraged tweets and social media posts, I did some research. In doing so, I have come to understand what all the fuss was about regarding “Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones.
“Brown Sugar” is actually about inter-racial sex. But, the problem is that the steamy sex that Mick Jagger wrote about and sang about is not between consenting adults at all. It is in regard to the rape of female slaves by white slave owners. The lyrics, that I never really paid attention to, bear this out:
“Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in the market down in New Orleans
Skydog slaver know he’s doin’ alright
Hear him whip the women, just around midnight.“
….and, it goes on from there. I never paid attention to the full lyrics. I just bopped mindlessly along, like so many others, to the chorus and thought it was a fun, sexy song. But, I see it differently now and, if it is not appropriate for The Rolling Stones anymore then, it won’t be a song that goes on my list of the best songs of all-time, either. Sorry.
So, what to do instead?
Well, The Rolling Stones have many other great hits which we WILL still see as the last 100 songs in this countdown roll by. However, for this particular song slot, I thought it might be a good idea to highlight a lesser known song that illustrates what a truly magnificent Blues-based Rock n’ Roll band they really were. So, I went back in time a bit to an album that they called, “Goat’s Head Soup”….from which “Angie” was the big hit….and chose a song called, “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”. This song really rocks. It shows the band at the height of their musical powers. The song is based upon two stories about black children in NYC during the 1970s and how difficult it was/still is to be black in America. There is a lot of fury in this song, helped in great part by the presence of “The Fifth Beatle”, Mr. Billy Preston, who ups the funk factor significantly. There is, also, a horn section that is used to great effect in this song, too.
So, get ready for a song that, while it may not rank as being one of The Rolling Stones more recognizable hits, “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” is certainly one of the funkiest songs in their entire catalogue.
So, sorry/not sorry for omitting “Brown Sugar”. Here, instead, are The Rolling Stones with “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” from the album, “Goat’s Head Soup” Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” by The Rolling Stones, can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Rolling Stones, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP, for loving Funk and Blues, as much as any station, anywhere. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.