By SAM AMADEO
Let It Bleed was the album that would summarize the end of the 1960’s and push the United States and much of Europe into the 1970’s, when it was released 50 years ago in 1969. Described as a love story set in the middle of the apocalypse, its themes and lyrics, shadowed by support from outstanding rock and blues performances, carry many similarities to what we face at the end of this decade as we look into the 2020’s. It’s not easy living in the end of the first fifth of the twenty-first century.
‘Love in Vain’ sends a sweet sense of saudade to our ears as we recall all the futile love and passion we have strived for. Yet we are warmed and revived in the following song ‘Country Honk’ bounding together around a corner pub booth in brotherhood and sisterhood. The next two songs ‘Live with Me’ and ‘Let It Bleed’ are two musical masterpieces combining jazz, rock, and country. The former, a jam where we can admit to ourselves we don’t always follow the rules but that is because it makes life a little more interesting. Why take tea at the usual four when you can take it at three? The latter, a jazzy jam where we can humbly admit we all need a shoulder to lean on and bleed on.
‘Midnight Rambler’ is a song one can ramble to on a ten-mile run, ten-hours of yard work, or writing a ten-page essay at three in the morning. ‘You Got the Silver’ is a beautiful love ballad sung by Keith Richards (not Stones frontman Mick Jagger), and though it can be interpreted numerous ways I have taken the song to mean this. You got the silver and I got the gold. It’s a song anyone who is in love with someone they know is too good for them can relate to. On ‘Monkey Man’ a sullen guitar leads in similarly to ‘Live with Me’ before suddenly a sprinkle of a high pitched piano heightens us to the presence of oncoming mischief. It’d be a lie for most of us to say we haven’t had our fair share of mischief, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we (or the people we hang out with) are bad people.
The album ends with one of the greatest works of art of all time. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ opens with a radiant choir telling us, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you’ll find you get what you need.’ The beginning is very melancholy but in the span of two minutes becomes a rejoyceful, hypnotic delight. A flawless ensemble of 11 instruments, numerous backing vocalists, and a choir ends the album with an overwhelming sound that can only be described as the sound you hear when you enter heaven.
‘You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need’ is a motto our generation and the next should take to heart. We can’t always get what we want. Sometimes the job we deserve we don’t receive, the girl or boy who has our heart has given it to somebody else, the grade we worked for is not the grade we received, the parent who would have made a great grandparent passes before they get the opportunity. Life is harsh, it is unfair, and it will knock us down. Those are the facts. But if we try – if we really try to stand back up and open new doors – we just might find exactly what we’ve been looking for.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons