The Rolling Stones

Coming Down Again

Song Review by

"Coming Down Again" has all the elements of what had become a classic, Rolling Stones ballad, the last in a staggeringly successful string of albums the group would make with producer Jimmy Miller. Piano takes front and center with some inspired playing from guest keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, along with the trademark start-stop drum arrangement from the restrained Charlie Watts that by now had become a familiar device, heard in such previous hits as "Wild Horses" and several others. The main difference here is that guitarist Keith Richards takes on the lead vocals, his voice lending the proceedings a ragged beauty. The subject matter concerns the well-worn topic of love gone bad: "Share your thought, there's nothing you can hide/She was dying to survive/I was caught, oh, taken for a ride/She was showing no surprise." But in true Stones fashion, things can't help but get a little nasty and degenerate, as Richards refusing to show remorse for past transgressions in later verses: "Slipped my tongue in someone else's pie/Tasting better ev'ry time/She turned green and tried to make me cry/Being hungry it ain't no crime." Mick Jagger helps out on the song's carefully drawn-out choruses, adding multi-layered harmonies giving the lines a soulful ache -- "Coming down again/Where are all my friends?/Coming down again/On the ground again/Coming down again" -- the world-weary words more than hinting at a drug reference of coming down off an artificial high. The guitars are kept in the back of the mix, with clipped chords keeping percussive time while small shimmering licks play in between vocal lines. The track swells through a brief middle section, with Bobby Keys lending a short sax solo while guitar put through a spinning Lesley speaker plays some watery support. Richards and Jagger interweave separate vocal lines through an extended last chorus employing an unusually complex array of harmonies bringing the song to a gentle close.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Goats Head Soup 1973 Virgin 5:54
LP Sleeve Box Set 2005 Toshiba EMI
The Rolling Stones Box Set 2009 Promotone 5:54