This is one of the Stones’ rock & rolliest songs ever. The fast pace and the wailin’ sax really make it sound like Little Richard should be singing it. Mick’s screaming his balls off, and I really, really fucking love hearing that. It’s very old school rockabilly shit, and it’s extremely catchy and fun to sing along with—if you can understand the lyrics!
I have been playing the newest re-release of Exile on Main Street for the past few days, but mostly I’ve had “Rip This Joint” on rewind. This is not an album I grew up listening to, though of course I knew many of the songs on it: “Tumbling Dice,” “Happy” (I fucking love when Keith sings lead!), and “Sweet Virginia” were all favorites. Given my love for the early days of rock and roll I have been wondering how my life would have been different had I known “Rip This Joint” in my youth.
How many blogs have I written about rock songs that express the artist’s love for rock and roll? “Rip This Joint” is another song that reveals the Stones’ passion for early R&B and rock music. Everything about it jumps and swings and makes you feel happy and energized and crazy. It starts off just as a brilliant rock song should:
Mama says yes
Papa says no
Make up your mind
‘cause I gotta go
Gonna raise hell
At the union hall
Right over the wall
Rip this joint
Gonna save your soul
Round and round and round we go
Roll this joint
Gonna get down low
Start my starter gonna start the show
Yeah, oh yeah!
Not that it matters, but song is about touring America. The lyrics are fascinating, but really incidental to the way Mick belts them out. I just love the rhythm, the sexiness, the way it crawls up into my naughty bits and satisfies me so quickly! I cannot get over how perfectly arranged this song is, how much it makes me feel like I’m in some backwoods R&B club in the early 50s. It’s a piece of rock and roll brilliance.
It also makes me think of the punk revolution that was just a few years away. The super-fast pace and unintelligible lyrics (not that it’s the only Stones song whose lyrics are difficult to decipher!) sound like the early garage punk bands that ran on pure adrenaline. Though many of those bands would claim to despise the Stones and other mega-groups that were selling out arenas all over the world, they undeniably were influenced by the gritty power of their music. Listen to “Rip This Joint” and tell me you don’t hear the roots of punk.
This has quickly become one of my top 10 favorite Stones songs. It’s got all the elements of an incredible composition, and I cannot say enough great things about it. Once you hear it, you’ll become as obsessed with it as I am.