Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sweet Black Angel

Exile on Main St.
Side Two, Track Three
"Sweet Black Angel" – 2:54

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I am going to put forward the proposition that "Sweet Black Angel" was the only good political song Mick Jagger ever had a hand in. Except for "Street Fighting Man". That was a good one, too. I guess "Gimme Shelter" counts as well. But that's it: "Sweet Black Angel" was one of only three good political songs that Mick Jagger could claim any credit for. Every other time he ventured into this arena he wound up embarrassing himself: "Undercover Of The Night" is shit, "Let's Work" is ridiculous, and we don't even have to discuss "Sweet Neo Con".

The Sweet Black Angel, if you're not familiar, was Angela Davis, a political activist and possessor of one of the great Afros of all time who was then facing a murder charge in association with a Black Panthers-related shootout (see Associated Press report of the incident – she was later acquitted). Davis was on trial during the recording of Exile, but who knows what prompted Mick to take a stand on this issue, penning some of his better lyrics:

Well, she ain't no singer, she ain't no star,
But she sure talk good and she move so fast.
But the gal in danger, yeah, the gal in chains,
But she keep on pushing
Would you take her place?
She counting up the minutes, she counting up the days,
She's a sweet black angel, not a sweet black slave.
More on Angela Davis here.