Thursday, August 26, 2010

Songs of the Week: Rolling Stones, "Good Time Women" & "Tumbling Dice"

My brother got me the deluxe edition of Exile on Main Street this month, and there are alternate takes of "Loving Cup" and "Soul Survivor" that are interesting to compare to the originals we all know.  But what really jumped out at me was a track titled "Good Time Women," clearly an early version of the classic "Tumbling Dice."

Ah, the powers of revision.

From the band's Wikipedia:

""Good Time Women", an early version of "Tumbling Dice", was recorded during the sessions for the album Sticky Fingers.[1] The song is a bluesy boogie-woogie heavy on Ian Stewart's piano work. The two songs are similar in structure in that they have the same chord progression and a similar melody. Also, Jagger sings the hook to the accompaniment of Richards' lone lead guitar. However, "Good Time Woman" lacked an opening riff, a background choir and the beat which propels "Tumbling Dice"'s groove."

 I wanted to post both songs and see what everyone thinks: which do you like better?  How different are they really?  Does anyone else know more examples of a song's first draft versus its final, released version?  Any examples where revision made the song worse?

Take it away!

"Good Time Women"

"Tumbling Dice"

See y'all next week...


ross k. said...

YES Chris. Very good call on "Tumbling Dice." This is exactly what I want to hear when I go into a bar or pool hall, I just don't find it on the juke box often enough. Can't say I care much for the original version. I think "Good Time Women" just feels flat and lackluster and a little too fast to groove. Whereas "Tumbling Dice" slithers and weaves and sashays around good and slow, in a "I can stand up just fine as long as I hold on to my pool cue / Telecaster" kind of way. The tempo and groove on "Tumbling Dice" have always been just right, and it is such a sing-along (if you know the words), lots of feeling. "Tumbling Dice" is one of my very few favorite Rolling Stones songs, and "Good Time Women" just can't compete, especially since "Honky Tonk Women" is already on the same record and is among the very best Rolling Stones songs as well.

Every now and then there will be a demo that, to the ARTIST, is ideal and unattainable--you improvise a good demo when you're relaxed and fooling around, and spend an increasingly tense time in the studio trying to recapture the feeling. The LISTENER may not experience this conflict with the given song the way the artist does, having had nothing to do with the process of working the dang thing out. My friend Saredren Wells from Louisville had an awesome demo version of "Diamond in the Sea" that he did in college, and it was impossible to recapture on the studio version of his recent album. No one knows this except me, him, and now the readers of this blog.

Chris Milam said...

Awesome comments--thanks Ross.

Yeah, "Tumbling Dice" feels, to me anyway, superior in every sense. One of Exile's producers/architects insists that those sessions were hellish, saying 99% of the music played was "total bollocks" or something British like that. Basically, they'd hammer through it and wait for lightning in a bottle. Which "Tumbling Dice" is.

"Good Time Women" to me isn't enjoyable as an actual listen so much as it's enjoyable to hear from a songwriting/album-making perspective. It's reassuring to hear, in another medium, the old Hemingway maxim: "the first draft of everything is [crap]."

ross k. said...

I beg your pardon, Chris and Blogworld--"Honky Tonk Women" was not on Exile on Main St, as I had thought. It was released first as a single and then showed up on Let It Bleed.

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