The Rolling Stones hit the road for their first shows following the death of Charlie Watts but their longtime drummer isn’t the only thing missing from the stage as they play their hits for fans in stadiums across the country, and will no longer be performing one of their most popular songs.
In what appears to be a submission to the “woke” hysteria and the cancel culture that has put a damper on artistic freedom in America, the world’s greatest rock and roll band has shelved “Brown Sugar,” the 1971 classic about the evils of slavery, a song that has been a fixture of their setlist for half a century.
The song, the first single from the “Sticky Fingers” album which is widely regarded as one of the iconic band’s best, features lyrics including “I hear him whip the women just around midnight” although singer Mick Jagger has toned down the language in recent years, substituting “you should have heard him just around midnight” for the controversial line.
Guitarist Keith Richards acknowledged that the Stones have dropped “Brown Sugar” from the lineup, “You picked up on that, huh?” he said, responding to a question during an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
He added, “I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is. Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it. At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this s—.”
Singer Mick Jagger also confirmed that “Brown Sugar” has been yanked but suggested that it may only be temporary, telling the Times that the band has played the song “every night since 1970, so sometimes you think, We’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes,” he said, “We might put it back in.”
The “woke” inquisition that has driven artists and performers to engage in self-censorship is as lacking in awareness as it often is in historical context, as was evident during last summer’s Taliban-style spree of monument destruction when statues of Abraham Lincoln – who was instrumental in ending slavery – were torn down along with confederate generals.
The current leg of the Stones’ “No Filter” tour kicked off in St. Louis on September 26, just over a month after Watts passed away at the age of 80 but not before recording several new songs for an album that has yet to be released.
“Let me put it this way,” Richards told the LA Times, “You haven’t heard the last of Charlie Watts.”
The leader of another iconic British rock band of note seems to be a bit jealous of the enduring success of The Rolling Stones.
Paul McCartney, the frontman for the “The Beatles” who competed with the Stones to be the best rockers of a golden era seemed to dismiss Jagger and the boys, dissing them as a“blues cover band” in an interview with the New Yorker.
“I’m not sure I should say it, but they’re a blues cover band, that’s sort of what the Stones are,” the 79-year-old singer told the magazine. “I think our net was cast a bit wider than theirs.”
The Stones will wrap up the “No Filter” tour at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin on November 20.
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