Keith Richards has confirmed that the iconic band put aside one of their most regularly performed songs after a concerted push by some to “bury it.”
The Rolling Stones have withdrawn one of their most popular rock songs due to lyrics that describe the horrors of slavery.
The Stones did not play the 1971 hit “Brown Sugar” on their current tour and said the blues classic was taken off their setlist.
“You get it, eh?” Keith Richards, 77, replied to the LA Times when asked if the Stones had cut the second most played song from their catalog amid heightened cultural sensitivity.
“I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out with the sisters where the beef is. Didn’t they understand that it was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it.
The first verse of the hit song depicts slaves being sold and beaten in Louisiana, with references to a “slave owner” who whips “women just around midnight.”
The famous chorus depicts a non-consensual sexual encounter between the violent master and a young slave, while possibly also alluding to heroin use.
In the following verse, the song describes the abuse suffered by slaves on a plantation. Lead singer Mick Jagger ends the song by singing, “How come you taste so good… like a black girl should.”
“We’ve played ‘Brown Sugar’ every night since 1970,” Richards told the newspaper.
“So sometimes you think, ‘We’re going to take this one off for now and see how it goes.’ We could put it back.
The Stones performed the song live 1136 times, right after “Jumpin ‘Jack Flash,” according to setlist.fm.
“Right now, I don’t want to clash with all of this bullshit,” Richard said of the song’s review. “But I hope we can resuscitate the baby in his glory somewhere along the trail.”
The Stones had five concerts in their “No Filter” tour on Wednesday. The concerts marked the first concerts of the septuagenarians since 2019 and the first performances without drummer Charlie Watts, who died in August at the age of 80.
Jagger clearly doesn’t sing the song in the first person, but the dancing tune has been criticized in recent years, with some critics calling it “incredibly rude and offensive.”
Other commentators conceded that it was “disgusting, sexist and incredibly offensive,” but still so exciting.
“I would never write this song now,” Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995. “I would probably censor myself. I was like, ‘Oh my God I can’t. I have to stop. I can’t. not just write crude like that. ‘”
Brown Sugar by Jagger / Richards
Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in the market in New Orleans
Marked old slave owner knows he’s fine
Hear him whip the women around midnight
Brown sugar, how come you taste so good? Uh huh
Brown sugar just like a young girl should, uh huh, oh
Drums that beat, the cold English blood heats up
Lady of the house wondering when this will end
The house boy knows he’s fine
You should have heard them around midnight
Brown sugar, how come you taste so good now?
Brown sugar just like a young girl should now (Yeah)
Ah, go ahead, brown sugar, how come you’re so good?
Ah, I want, brown sugar
Just like a black girl should, yeah
Ah, and I bet your mama was a tent show queen
And all her boyfriends were sixteen
I’m not a schoolboy, but I know what I like
You should have heard me around midnight
Brown sugar, how come you’re so good, baby?
Ah, come down, brown sugar
Just like a young girl should, yeah
I said, yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
How come, how come you taste so good?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
Just like a, just like a black girl should
Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
– New York Post