One Song/Three Versions – Let it Bleed

Let it Bleed was my favorite Stones album prior to the release of  Exile on Main Street. And it’s still a great album, probably deserving a post of its own. The Stones denied that the title was a take on the Beatles’ Let it Be. But hmm, dark side light side? Anyway, I heard an alternate version of the title song on satellite radio and I said to myself, I have got to do something on this. So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, one song, three versions.

The album Let it Bleed was released on December 5, 1969, literally one day before the Stones’ disastrous concert/horror show at the Altamont Speedway. The album has overtones of menace in it, and the more mystical among us might think that the tales of dark foreboding were an omen of things to come.

I’ve always loved the song “Let it Bleed” because it is just a funky, bluesy number the likes of which they rarely do any more and which only Keith Richards could come up with. (I say this is Keef’s song with no backing evidence whatsoever, but I mean, come on!). I love the slow, lazy slide/acoustic intro. Mick sings this like he’s drunk. Ian Stewart on piano and (I think) Ry Cooder on slide:

Well, we all need someone we can lean on
And if you want it, you can lean on me
Yeah, we all need someone we can lean on
And if you want it, you can lean on me

Here’s Sheryl Crow kickin’ it at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I saw her open for the Stones once. Terrific singer and performer. I thought for sure she’d avoid the “you can cream on me” part of this but she sings it. Not that she shouldn’t be able to. She can sing whatever the fuck she wants. But you know some guys take that as an open invitation. Check out some of the comments on YouTube if you need proof:

She said, my breasts, they will always be open
Baby, you can rest your weary head right on me
And there will always be a space in my parking lot
When you need a little coke and sympathy

The original inspiration for this post was hearing ex-Black Crowe Chris Robinson’s band do it. But I can’t find that online. So, not entirely heartbroken, I offer up Johnny Winter’s nasty version from his terrific Still Alive and Well album. He also does a nice version of Jagger/Richards’ “Silver Train” on this album which he actually released before the Stones did:

I was dreaming of a steel guitar engagement
When you drunk my health in scented jasmine tea
But you knifed me in my dirty filthy basement
With that jaded, faded, junkie nurse oh what pleasant company, ha

Cast your vote!

10 thoughts on “One Song/Three Versions – Let it Bleed

  1. It has to be the Stones…
    Just another of hundreds of affirmations that they are (or should I say ‘were’) the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time. So many great tracks on Let it Bleed, but above all it’s just a great ALBUM. Goes full circle from Gimme Shelter to You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Beautiful.

    I must say that I laughed at the end of the Johnny Winter version where someone says: ‘Goddamn it, did that get it or what’… 😀


    1. Yeah, not every album was great back then. But it sure seemed like there were a higher proportion of “no-filler” albums. What happened? And yeah, Goddamn it, it did get it! 😀


  2. Winters’ version (which I’d not heard) tears the arse off it but I’d still vote for the Stones. I don’t hear the auto-harp on anyone else’s.
    Is there a duff song on Let It Bleed? I don’t think so.


    1. Winter does nice covers. He nails it on Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” and, I think, bests the Stones on their “Silver Train.”


  3. CB don’t vote. (He doesn’t do a lot of things). Hey, it’s a cool Stones tune. Johnny always puts his slant on things (and what a slant it is. Dylan tribute years back him and Neil kill it with Booker t and the boys. Hwy 61 is JW doing his Thang!). CB out.


      1. I wasn’t very clear on that one. Johnny did ’61’ and Neil did ‘Watchtower’ at the Dylan tribute. Booker T was the house band for the gig. Just a case of Winter making the song his own same as the one you featured.


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