The Rolling Stones

Live with Me

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Song Review by Bill Janovitz

Not a particularly well-known song, certainly not thrown in on best-of collections, "Live With Me" is nevertheless a definitive Rolling Stones number, a song that showed the band entering their peak years supremely confident, seamlessly blending their influences and their original characteristics and sounding unlike anything else that had come before. "Live With Me" is also a milestone song with a couple of "firsts" for the band. Contrary to conflicting versions of the band's history, "Honky Tonk Women" was not the first song that Mick Taylor worked on with the Stones. The lead guitarist joined the band soon after the departure of Brian Jones and "Live With Me" features his first performance with the Stones. Longtime saxophonist Bobby Keys has also noted that "Live With Me" is the first session that the Stones employed the famous horn section that would play a major part in their recordings and live shows for years. Keys, introduced to the band by fellow American Jimmy Miller, the record's producer, wails out an uninhibited tenor solo that foreshadows his famous work on "Brown Sugar" the next year. The song is based around a Keith Richards-played funky bass line while Charlie Watts lays down a steady, slamming backbeat. The rhythm section plays alone for the introduction and then is joined by one of Richards' unmistakable rhythmic riffs and Mick Taylor's relatively understated rhythm, playing off of that of Richards. Joining in are pianists Leon Russell and Nicky Hopkins. The presence of Americans Russell, Keys, and Miller in the sessions is indicative of the re-embrace of authentic blues, R&B, soul, and American roots music in general that seems to have re-energized the Stones from 1968's Beggar's Banquet on. After experimental flirtations with psychedelia and other less-traditional ideas, the band appeared to discover that which they did best: their own unique blend of roots music and contemporary influences. Mick Jagger also embraced the seedier side of the blues in his lyrics, updating the sexual bravura and macho-man posturing of old-timers like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf on Stones songs like "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Live With Me." On this song, he plays up the more cartoonish characterizations regarding the band's image, thus feeding the perception of rich, decadent rock stars with enough free time to "shoot water rats and feed them to his geese." Jagger realized his image with the public -- both fans and detractors -- and stretches it further satirically. He starts off this whirlwind litany of bad behavior with the high crime of "I take tea at three." Much of the lyric is poking fun at the band's situation as a surrogate extended family of the musicians, their "harebrained children/Locked in the nursery" friends and hangers-on. The narrator seems to have met a woman and sarcastically asks, "Don't you think there's a place for you in between the sheets?/Come on now, honey, we can build a home for three/Don't you want to live with me?" Jagger knows the line is absurd and exaggerates it for effect, realizing it would scare off anyone with sense. The last verse is so bawdy, with descriptions of oversexed servants, that it got the band some friction from the London Bach Choir, who wanted to revoke their participation on Let it Bleed's "You Can't Always Get What You Want." The Stones did a concise but rocking version of "Live With Me" on their classic live album from the 1969 tour Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out (1970), featuring Richard's Chuck Berry-inspired solo in lieu of Keys' horn. There is another version released on the 1998 live No Security, which is notable mostly in the fact that is was on the set list at all. But the band still kicks it pretty hard and restores Keys' solo, with the player back out on the road with them after years of being out of the band's orbit.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Let It Bleed 1969 ABKCO Records 3:33
Sticky Fingers 1971 Virgin 0:00
Wild Horses 1996 Virgin 0:00
Down to the Wire 1997 Colosseum
12 X 5/Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! 1999 CD Maximum
Remastered Series 2004 ABKCO Records 3:02
The Rolling Stones 1964-1969 [Vinyl Box Set] 2010 ABKCO Records / Universal Distribution 3:33
The Rolling Stones in Mono 2016 ABKCO Records 3:33