Stones’ Desert Trip Cover Of “Come Together” A Beautiful, Grand Gesture

rollingstonescometogetherBy most accounts, the Desert Trip extravaganza last weekend was a smashing success that exceeded expectations. Sadly, I was unable to attend, but there’s plenty of video floating around, and we’ve posted a selection of some highlights. To me, there’s one highlight that stands out not only in the festival, but maybe even as one of the great moments of Rock history: the Rolling Stones’ covering the Beatles’ “Come Together”.

Unlike the other five artists at Desert Trip, covering the material of other performers is part of the Stones’ DNA. I am sure the Stones have more covers in their catalog than the other five combined. It is inconceivable that any of the others would have had hit single covers in the ’70s and the ’80s like the Stones did with “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Harlem Shuffle”, respectively. You need no further proof of the band’s affinity for the material of other artists than the announcement this month that in December they will release an album of blues covers.

But covering The Beatles would have been unthinkable for the Stones over the past 53 years, ever since Lennon and McCartney gave the Stones “I Wanna Be Your Man”. That song inspired Jagger and Richards to write their own material, and was the only Beatles cover they’ve ever been associated with, until last weekend.

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It’s fair to say that The Beatles and the Stones have always had a friendly rivalry, but the harsh reality is that the Stones have historically played second fiddle to the Fab Four, languishing in the shadows of the weighty Beatles mythology for more than 50 years. This has got to annoy proud artists like Jagger and Richards who, when asked about the legacy comparison over the years, usually say that the Beatles made great records but could never match the Stones longevity or the power of the Stones’ live performance.

Needless to say, the Stones don’t owe the Beatles any favors. This is why I found it so remarkable, and so beautiful, to see the Stones covering “Come Together” last weekend. The band was clearly aware of the historical import of the concert, and performing the song was obviously a nod to the late, great Mr. Lennon whose birthday was last week. But seeing as McCartney was also playing the same festival, I think the Stones were also reaching out a hand in solidarity with their old friendly rivals from long ago.

The performance of the song was pretty good, turning the syncopated bass playing and drumming of the original into a 4/4 blues number, and a blues number in the hands of these guys cannot go wrong. My hope now is that for the second weekend of the festival, McCartney will cover a Stones song in his set and close this beautiful circle. I’ll leave it to you to speculate what would be an appropriate Rolling Stones song for Paul McCartney to cover.





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