The Rolling Stones:Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 31, 2022


537) The Rolling Stones — “Blood Red Wine”

A great unfinished song from May ‘68, apparently too rich for the Banquet, recorded at Olympic Sound Studios in London (Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2012). Jim Connelly says that: “Despite the fact that it was obviously unfinished, ‘Blood Red Wine’ packs both a musical and emotional wallop.” ( And Dave Swanson says that: “What is there . . . sounds like the makings of a Stones classic.” ( “Blood” is a precursor to Goat Heads Soup’s “Winter” and it seems to be all about Marianne.

Swanson goes on:

‘Blood Red Wine’ is an outtake from the ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ sessions. While it has the mood and feel of that period soaked into it, the track is obviously unfinished. . . . That melancholy feels so prominent on songs like ‘Sister Morphine,’ Moonlight Mile’ and others is all over this one. Another track ripe for nursing back to life for sure.

And Connelly adds:

[I]t starts with with Keith playing some lovely sad guitar, like he’s trying to find the right chords — which he may very well be — and eventually, he finds an even sadder lick . . . . It just struck me today that “Blood Red Wine” is quite possibly a lyrical precursor to future Certain Song “Winter” — recorded only four years but a million decades later — which also has a line about Mick wrapping his coat around someone. In the case of “Blood Red Wine,” it’s probably Marianne Faithfull who inspired the next verse.

“You say that every man you ever had has been obsessed with you and I want to prove an exception to the rule that you lay down. Babe, please don’t make me cry, because there’s a little pain inside. Yes, my darling, now you can’t expect me always to hide.”

It’s so tentative, his phrasing is so weird and off and real and sad and he’s totally making it up on the spot and I love it all so much, especially when they follow it up with another chorus filled with Nicky[Hopkins’] overmodulated piano and Charlies refusal to play anything but his toms. . . . the melody line of that chorus is as sad and pretty, it just makes the fumbling stumbling verses that much more real. . . . At this point, Charlie finally finds his snare drum, and plays a beat during the final chorus, which has gotten even grander and bigger.

“I got red blood, and I got blood red wine, which I bring you, when the snow lies heavy on the ground. If you get cold I wrap my coat, coat around. My, my, my, my don’t you stay on that, that snowy ground.”

And yeah, it doesn’t even matter that Mick is rhyming “ground” with “ground,” not now, not with the snow covering everything everywhere forever. Which is how it feels as Charlie makes footprints with his snare drum until it just ends. It’s too bad they never finished it, because it’s a pretty great song . . . .

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