Rolling Stones – Happy

I had to double-check my index to make sure I didn’t post this song before. Well no I haven’t and I can’t believe it because it’s WAY up there in the top 3 of my favorite Stones songs. My order probably goes as follows… 1. Memory Motel, 2. 100 Years Ago, and 3. Happy.

This song is on one of my favorite double albums. Since I made a short list of my top 3 favorite Stones songs…I’ll make a short one of my favorite double albums. Number 1 is also my favorite album of all time…The Beatles The White Album, 2. would be Exile On Main Street (and that is where Happy is found), and number 3 The Clash London Calling. I’m thankful none of them were trimmed down.

I love Keith Richard’s voice. I wish he would have had lead vocals on more than he did. I think Jagger is terrific and the perfect singer for them but it’s a raw quality about Keith’s voice that I like. I’ve read that he sang in the choir as a youngster until cigarettes and other substances made it a little raw. The song is great and I can’t believe that Mick didn’t fight to sing this one.

I love the studio version but I also like the 1972 tour version of this song with Mick Taylor with his fat Gibson-sounding guitar driving it also. Everyone who reads me knows I’m a huge Mick Taylor fan. It’s not that I don’t like Ronnie Wood…he fits them perfectly but his and Keith’s guitar sometimes sound too much like each other with the same tones. There was no mistaking Taylor.

A few years ago Mick Taylor joined them onstage and they had that sound again as soon as he was chugging away at the chords. I want to mention one more thing about that era. Mick Taylor contributed as I said but also Jimmy Miller their producer. He needs a hell of a lot of credit for the success they had with that 5-album stretch. Without Jimmy Miller who knows if those albums would have had the same sound. Once he left…so did that sound.

Happy was recorded at Keith’s Villa Nellcote in France when The Stones left England to avoid paying taxes. They used the basement as a recording studio but had a hard time getting everyone together at once because of the party atmosphere. The only people to play on this were Keith (guitar, bass, vocals), producer Jimmy Miller (drums), and horn player Bobby Keys (percussion). Horns were dubbed in later.

The song peaked at #22 on the Billboard 100 and #9 in Canada. The B side was a song that is just as good as this one… All Down The Line. Exile On Main Street peaked at #1 on The Billboard Album Charts, Canada, and the UK in 1972.

Keith Richards:  “That’s a strange song, because if you play it you actually become happy, even in the worst of circumstances. It has a little magical bounce about it. I wrote it one afternoon when we were cutting Exile on Main St. in France and the studio was in my basement. And Bobby Keys was with me and they got this lick going. So we went down and I recorded it with just guitar and Bobby Keys on baritone saxophone. While we were doing that, Jimmy Miller, who was our producer at the time, came in. And he was a very good drummer as well. So we said, well let’s put down a dub, we’ll just sort of sketch it out and play it later. But it’s another one of those things that ended up being on the record. It was just one of those moments that you get that are very happy. And I can play it now and it gives you a lift. I don’t know why except for maybe the word.”

Happy

Well I never kept a dollar past sunset
It always burned a hole in my pants
Never made a school mama happy
Never blew a second chance, oh no

I need a love to keep me happy
I need a love to keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy

Always took candy from strangers
Didn’t wanna get me no trade
Never want to be like papa
Working for the boss ev’ry night and day

I need a love to keep me happy
I need a love, baby won’t ya keep me happy
Baby, won’t ya keep me happy
Baby, please keep me

I need a love to keep me happy
I need a love to keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy
Baby

Never got a flash out of cocktails
When I got some flesh off the bone
Never got a lift out of Lear jets
When I can fly way back home

I need a love to keep me happy
I need a love to keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy
Baby, baby keep me happy
Baby

Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, baby won’t you keep me
Happy, oh, keep on, baby, keep me
Happy, now baby won’t you squeeze me
Happy, oh, baby got to feel it
Happy, now, now, now, now, now keep me
Happy, my, my, my, keep me
Happy, keep on baby, keep me
Happy, keep on baby, got to
Happy, my, my, baby keep me happy

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

41 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Happy”

  1. This is one of my all-time fave Stones songs. To me, it stands alone in its sound and mix. It’s great to play in the car when starting out on a road trip, or on a nice day with the windows and top down. 😀

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Memory Hotel is a great track Max. As far as Keef tracks go Happy is another great track but probably my fav Keef tune is Before They Make Me Run and I always liked Thief In The Night as well from the Bridges To Babylon album.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh yea…Before they make me Run holds one of the best lyrics EVER… “I wasn’t looking too good but I was feeling real well”
      It doesn’t get much better than that.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea the 1972 tour was to me…their peak live. Funny side story…I was only 5 at the time but the Stones with Stevie Wonder came to Nashville that year…my sister instead went to see David Cassidy…. I have to shake my head at that one.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Good…I’m not alone lol. You could not see the paneling in her room…it was Cassidy and the Osmonds totally covered everywhere. She was 13 at the time so it fit.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree with your assessment of ‘Exile’ the LP. Up there as one of my all time favourites too. Not so sure about Keef’s voice, though … I have a couple of his solo albums / X-Pensive Winos and would have classed his voice as ‘ropey’ at best! (Still class, though – he has his own ‘style’ let’s say. 😉 😀

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I do like his voice…because like Dylan…he means it when he sings it. Beggars Banquet remains my favorite album of theirs but Exile is HIGH on my list.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. Good upbeat song. I’ve heard it a few times through the years but find it wild that it was a top 10 in Canada; don’t ever remember hearing it as a kid and oldies radio certainly didn’t pick up on it in later years. Listening to it now, the chorus sure reminds me of John ‘Cougar’s ‘I Need a Lover’… he might have skirted a timebomb there … and as I type that, I looked it up and see Mellencamp acknowledged it as the inspiration for his song.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You know I never noticed that but you are right! It does sound like that. It is very radio accessible. The song fit Keith’s personailtiy to a tee.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Same here Matt…glad you got some time with your kids man! I haven’t been too busy…I got sick for a couple of days and then found out I had covid…I worked from home all last week…but I’m fine….it was a mild strain I guess.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yea I didn’t expect it becasue the state I live in had the highest reported cases of the flu in the nation this past month. I thought I had the flu…but it was ok…I got to work from home all week!
        Thanks Matt…we are doing good now.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. As a Stones fan this one is right up there- it sounds so right and just swings and swaggers along with a real dirty sweaty take-no-prisoners feel. It’s like Keith is somehow playing and yet still raising his middle finger to the world at the same time. And his voice was so right for this song in ’72. But wouldn’t be for much longer, IMHO.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes it was fading… he did the vocals on three favorite Stones songs…Happy, Before they Make Me Run, and You Got The Silver. He fit those well. I’m sure I’m missing one or two also.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. “Happy” is a great tune. I’m intrigued by your order of favorite Rolling Stones songs. Frankly, I don’t think I had even heard “100 Years Ago!” 🙂

    Some of my favorite Stones tunes I guess are much more predictable. In no particular order, “The Last Time”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Dead Flowers” are three I really dig. Are they my top three? I would have to think about it a little more.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dead Flowers is way up there on my list. So are the other ones you said…The Last Time needs more love from people. 100 Years Ago…I don’t know why but the song just spoke to me…it’s kinda different for them.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I like your top three Max: 1. Memory Motel, 2. 100 Years Ago, and 3. Happy. But I LOVE your Top 3 double albums: The White Album, Exile On Main Street, and London Calling. Happy rules as does Keith’s voice. Exile is part of my being. Thanks for the reminder, I really need to put this on again.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This song was on a compilation disk the people I babysat for (the guy had the record collection) had and I’ve loved it since then. Never really even thought about who was singing it, but yeah, Keith! He isn’t Mick, but he has singing ability also. He always does perfect harmony with Mick also. I remember Keith talking about recording in the basement at the villa. I also remember at some point Mick bringing a mobile recording studio there? So cool the producer got on the drums for it. Like you, I love the guitars together in the Stones at this time. You really can’t beat it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea the Stones rented out a mobile unit to bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and The Who. It was a great idea…people could record anywhere.

      I love the way Keith sings…of course I love Dylans voice lol.

      Liked by 2 people

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