Rolling Stones – All Down The Line

One of my favorites off of Exile on Main Street. This was going to be the first single off of the album but Tumbling Dice… understandably was the first. This song didn’t chart but it just added to the greatness that is Exile on Main Street.

Engineer Andy Johns talked about this single. It was the first song finished for the album and Mick thought it was perfect for the first single. Andy disagreed and told Mick. I know this is a long quote but it’s worth a read. It shows you how much power some bands like the Stones had in the 60s and 70s.

Andy Johns:

“It was the first one that was finished cause we’d be working for months and months. Mick got very enamored. ‘It’s finished! It’s going to be the single!’ I thought, ‘This isn’t really a single, you know.’ I remember going out and talking to him and he was playing the piano. ‘Mick, this isn’t a single. It doesn’t compare to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” or “Street Fighting Man.” ‘Come on, man.’ He went, ‘Really? Do you think so?’ I thought, ‘My God. He’s actually listening to me.’ (laughs). And then, I was having a struggle with the mix I thought was gonna be it. Ahmet Ertegun then barged in with a bunch of hookers and ruined the one mix. He stood right in front of the left speaker with two birds on each arm (laughs).
I told Mick, ‘I can’t hear it here. If I could hear it on the radio that would be nice.’ It was just a fantasy. ‘Oh, we can do that.’ ‘Stew (piano player Ian Stewart), go to the nearest FM radio station with the tape and say we’d like to hear it over the radio. And we’ll get a limo and Andy can listen to it in the car.’ I went, ‘Bloody hell…Well, it’s the Stones. OK.’
So sure enough, we’re touring down Sunset Strip and Keith is in one seat, and I’m in the back where the speakers are with Mick, and Charlie is in there, too. Just because he was bored (laughs). And Mick’s got the radio on and the DJ comes on the air, ‘We’re so lucky tonight. We’re the first people to play the new Stones’ record.’ And it came on the radio and the speakers in this car were kind of shot. I still couldn’t tell. And it finishes. Then Mick turns around. ‘So?’ ‘I’m still not sure, man.’ I’m still not used to these speakers’. ‘Oh, we’ll have him play it again then.’
Poor Stew. ‘Have them play it again’ like they were some sort of radio service. It was surreal. Up and down Sunset Strip at 9:00 on a Saturday night. The Strip was jumpin’ and I’m in the car with those guys listening to my mixes. It sounded OK. ‘I think we’re down with that.’ So then we moved on.”

From Songfacts

When The Stones gave this to a Los Angeles radio station in 1971 while they were still working on it so they could hear what it sounded like on the radio, it spread rumors that it would be the first single off Exile on Main St., but that honor went to “Tumblin’ Dice.”

Producer Jimmy Miller added percussion. He had to play some of the instruments on the album because The Stones were rarely together during the sessions, which took place at a French villa Keith Richards rented.

Kathi McDonald sang backup. She was a backup singer for Leon Russell and went on to record with Nicky Hopkins and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

All Down The Line

Yeah, heard the diesel drumming all down the line.
Oh, heard the wires a humming all down the line.
Yeah, hear the women sighing all down the line.
Oh, hear the children crying all down the line.

(All down the line)
We’ll be watching out for trouble, yeah.
(All down the line)
And we’d better keep the motor running, yeah.
(All down the line)
Well, you can’t say yes and you can’t say no,
Just be right there when the whistle blows.
I need a sanctified girl with a sanctified mind to help me now.

Yeah, all the people singing all down the line.
Mmmm, watch the men all working, working, yeah.
(All down the line)

(All down the line)
We’re gonna open up the throttle yeah.
(All down the line)
We’re gonna bust another bottle, yeah.
(All down the line)

I need a shot of salvation, baby, once in a while.
Hear the whistle blowing, hear it for a thousand miles.

(All down the line)
We’re gonna open up the throttle, yeah.
All down the line, we’re gonna bust another bottle, yeah.
Well you can’t say yes, and you can’t say no,
Just be right there when the whistle blows.
I need a sanctified mind to help me out right now.

Be my little baby for a while.
Won’t you be my little baby for a while?
Won’t you be my little baby for a while?
Won’t you be my little baby for a while?
Won’t you be my little baby for a while?

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

11 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – All Down The Line”

    1. Imagine using a radio station as your personal testing and sound mix over and over… it is a good song… no Tumbling Dice but a good song.

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      1. Maybe some of it was the conditions they were in at the time. More lore is around that album than any other they did. It’s a miracle they got what they got…

        Liked by 1 person

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