Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Parachute Woman

Beggars Banquet
Track 4
"Parachute Woman" – 2:23

Excuse the video.

The Stones go back to the traditional blues for this one, something they haven't done for a while. The instrumentation is stripped down: an acoustic, standup bass, some harp. The Stones recorded the track directly onto a two-track cassette deck, which resulted in the murky mix. (They later added some overdubs in the studio – there appears to be another bass that drops in and out, along with another harp.) I read that the murkiness was more or less a conscious decision, part of their new "getting back to their roots" philosophy, and while it produced great music on the rest of the album, the results are a little less exciting here.

I guess it's the "parachute woman" theme that's bothering me. The Stones were setting out to deliberately re-create the atmosphere of those old depression-era blues recordings they loved, and to my ears they mostly succeeded. But "parachute woman" rings false to me – I just can't imagine Charlie Patton or John Hurt singing those words.

However, that is a minor complaint. Like I said, the song was a mostly successful recreation of a traditional blues, and there's no shame in that.