Irony: Rolling Stones Drop ‘Brown Sugar’ from ‘No Filter’ Tour

It was a tough campaign for the Rolling Stones. It was hard to lose Charlie Watts or Brown Sugar in a single tour. The loss of Charlie Watts and Brown Sugar is devastating. Exclusion of the former is an act of shame.

Only a matter time until the Jacobin got to The Stones, and specifically “Brown Sugar”, it was just a matter. This song is just too political incorrect, rude and a great time for no one to leave it alone. So the Stones quietly dropped the classic from the set list of their “No Filter” tour (how’s that for irony?)

But people noticed, according to The New York Post:

“You picked up on that, huh?,” Keith Richards, 77, responded to the LA Times when asked if the Stones had cut the second-most-performed tune in their catalog amid a climate of heightened cultural sensitivity.

Heightened sensitivity is one way of characterizing the sudden moral panic about a rock n’ roll song that’s been a radio and concert staple for 50 years. “Brown Sugar” is about slavery, violence, rape and maybe heroin — just as it has been since it was recorded in 1971. 

But it’s suddenly sending good progressives to the fainting couch. A month ago, Tom Taylor wrote at Far Out that the song has “some of the most stunningly crude and offensive lyrics that have ever been written.”

Taylor assures readers “I am not my clutching pearls over the innocuous here [sic].” He’s just much more moral and finely attuned to history than you are. “I am simply saying the atrocity of the slave trade, rape and the unimaginable suffering therein should not be adorned with gyrating, glib lyrics, guitar solos and no redeeming features in the way of discerned appraisal.”

Discerned appraisal is a lot to ask from a rock n’ roll song. Everyone, particularly at this later date, who looks up to Jagger/Richards in search of historical clarity or moral elucidation needs to think again. The Stones do sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, and they may do them better than anybody else.

The only purpose of a public battle session with a 50-year-old song in it is to promote your virtues and to reaffirm your awakened credentials.

Richards seems puzzled for his part. “Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery?” he asked. “But they’re trying to bury it.”

C’mon Keith. “Brown Sugar’s” lyrics are indefensible. These lyrics are really crude. But they work like hell, and it’s only rock n’ roll.

About Post Author

Follow Us