Monday, December 04, 2006

THE ROLLING STONES : “WE LOVE YOU / DANDELION” 45

I’d argue that this 45 from 1967 is something of a medium-sized disaster, and a black mark on the Stones’ legacy that stands out like an ugly, money-grubbing stepchild. Ostensibly the band’s first true step into “flower power” psychedelia, both sides of this single have always come off to my ears as a totally opportunistic stab at bonding (and selling records to) the burgeoning hippie generation. The subsequent album “Their Satanic Majesties Request”, while full of watery sitars and groovy sounds, is more experimental and carnival-like, and stands as a pretty solid record to this day. But I just laff when I hear this one. The tuff Rolling Stones of "Between The Buttons" earlier in the year, and especially of "Beggars' Banquet" the next year are nowhere on this put-your-hands-together-with-the-groovy-children interlude. The most cringeworthy line of all comes in "Dandelion" toward the end, with Jagger in high-pitched pied piper mode: "Little girls and boys come out to play/Bring your dandelions to blow away...". And get this - the Stones even invited John & Paul from the Beatles to sing "love, love, love" backup on the A-side too! Yuk! I guess I'd have a better Hindenburg-esque disaster story to tell here if the single had totally bombed, but it went to #8 in the UK and cracked the Top 50 in the US. Tim Ellison, with all due respect, if you're not already logged into the comments box working up a frothing defense, I'll be more than surprised.

16 comments:

sdd said...

I like both those songs. "We Love You" is SUPER sarcastic (we love you....of COURSE we do!) and the piano figure is nice.
I believe "Dandelion" is about Keith Richard's daughter....not groovy peacenicks.
Okay, you're right, I'm a hippie!

Kyle said...

I don't think even Marlon Richards was born at this point, so I think Keith's daughter was more likely named after the song rather than the other way around.

I do agree that "We Love You" is sarcastic - I thought it was a kiss off to the authorities that had tried to jail Jagger and Richards.

Are the songs any good? I don't know I haven't heard either of them in years. I'd have to dig them out. Certainly not my favorites of theirs, but I don't remember being all that horribly annoyed by them either.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a post but I think it didn't go through because I wasn't logged in to the new Beta Blogger/Google deal.

Anyway, I was reminded of something Roger Miller told me when I interviewed him about the Sproton Layer - that at the time they felt themselves to be in the throes of some type of revolutionary moment, and that it involved, as he said, "'Yellow Submarine', the MC5, THE WHOLE THING."

I wrote something about childhood being a big thing in "the Surrealist adventure" and that if "Dandelion" deals a bit in cliches, it nevertheless sounds much more committed than certain other nursery-rhyme-as-surreal-content songs from the time (Yardbirds, Traffic, etc.). I think the Stones were always the real deal. "Dandelion" is a gem and "We Love You" has that great part - what is it the chorus? the bridge? the bridge, maybe - the "We don't care if you hound we" etc. part. That's really propulsive and sort of typical of their great '66-'67-era sound.

(OK, I figured out how to log in before posting comment now.)

Spills said...

I like "Dandelion" and "We Love You". Rather than opportunism, I think these songs represented a side of the Stones (Jagger-Richards, actually) that manifested itself several times earlier. These songs are simply souped up psychedeliczed poesy from the same team that gave us "As Tears Go By" and a variety of other heavily orchsetrated MOR rock. (See, e.g. Metamorphosis).

Jay, I have no doubt that you honestly dislike this record. I do think that many people bag on the Stones' foray into psychedelia because it doesn't square with the popular conception of the band -- a conception no doubt fostered by the band -- namely the Stones as swashbuckling bad boys with their roots set deep in the blues. People would rather think of the Stones nodding off at Nellcote than mincing about in Edwardian Mr. Fish gear.

I maintain that Between the Buttons is the Stones' great unsung masterpiece. The new conventional wisdom is that Satanic Majesties is a decent album that was unfairly compared to Sgt. Peppers, which is a fair assessment. Now is the time for to for us to rev up the PR machine to place Between the Buttons alongside such newly minted classics as The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society and Odyssey and Oracle.

Jay said...

Spills, great comment as always, especially "People would rather think of the Stones nodding off at Nellcote than mincing about in Edwardian Mr. Fish gear...". You know, I don't at all think of BETWEEN THE BUTTONS the way you represent it. That is a rock and roll album through and through - Connection, Yesterday's Papers, Let's Spend The Night Together etc. - not at all like the decent but somewhat mockable "Satanic Majesties". Even that album, foppish as it is, has some real tough & dirty stuff on it like "Citadel" that I love. But I can't help thinking of the We Love You/Dandelion 45 that came between the two as a real calculated move to smooch the hippie generation hard, and really ridiculous-sounding to boot. I may be all alone on this one.

Seanrude said...

I agree that Between the Buttons deserves more praise than it gets, but can we give some love to Aftermath too while we are at it?

KI said...

Everything Rudy Giuliani has done via his political posturing (especially post 9/11) is far more calculated and empty than this 45 - he's the real phony. KI

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Jay -- both these songs are classics! "We Love You," especially -- wasn't this the Stones' ultra-sarcastic "tribute" to/assault on hippiedom? Plus, old-timers like myself remember that these were the last two songs on side two of "More Hot Rocks," one of the greatest artist compilations ever. (Side three skimmed off the best of "Satanic Majesties"). "Aftermath", "Between the Buttons" -- both stone classics! You can't go wrong!

sdd said...

Yeah, but didn't Rudy Giuliani play bass on "Respectable"?

Spills said...

Jay,

To be sure, BTB is a rock and roll album, though not in the same vein as the Stones albums that have passed into canon. I think Between the Buttons is overlooked because: 1) after it was released, the Stones had any number of legal and personal drama that for a variety of reason caused the album to be orphaned; 2) it does not fit into the casual Stones fans' conception of what the Stones are about; 3)it does not fit into Keith and Mick's projected image of the Stones; 4)most people are only familiar with the US version. I've got a 500 word introduction to a book that ought to be written about Between the Buttons that spells this out much better.

Sorry to hijack the thread.

John R said...

I also really dig the 45 and totally agree with the above comments regarding the brilliance of the UK version of "Between the Buttons". I am a big believer that the glory period of the Stones started with Aftermath and carried through Beggars (with BTB being the peak). Surprised you took the "We Love You" so literally, Jay...

Barry said...

Goddamn, I love "Dandelion"; maybe 'cause I'm a total Stones agnostic, I'd rather hear their fruity stuff, then their "street fighting man" pose: now THAT'S opportunisic hackery!!!

James said...

"Street Fighting Man" might be opportunistic (I can't deny it), but, damn, that record sounds great, from the killer opening with the acoustic guitar strum and heavy backbeat, to the end with that Middle-Eastern sounding instrument kicking in.

"Dandelion," on the other hand... well, I like it, too, but I'll side with SFM.

Anonymous said...

"All Sold Out" -- Between the Button's unsung rocker!

Anonymous said...

Both are terrific songs and proof that the Stones weren't hung up on their image as you seem to be. Brian Jones' work throughout the psychedelic period and beyond is extraordinary and I never doubt for a moment that these guys "mean(t) it, man" when they wrote/sang those songs just as much as any of their more conventional "rock" songs. Such a shame that somebody who supports unusual music such as yourself would come off as so short-sighted and conservative in relation to the Stones taking some real chances. And yes, We Love You is satirical...hello???

Anonymous said...

The lyrics are about lines of cocaine. They are as cynical as the "We Love You" lyrics. This was not an attempt to be "authentic" hippies. This is one of their best singles, and is definitely not shite.