The Rolling Stones

Till The Next Goodbye

Song Review by

Even a casual toss-off by the Rolling Stones during their peak years beats most bands' A-list material, which might be the case with "Till the Next Goodbye," an overlooked song about illicit meetings between two lovers. In a way, songs like this are a victim to the high standard the Stones had set for themselves as writers. "Till the Next Goodbye" comes closest to country music in tone, but as with much of the Stones' music, they turn a myriad of rootsy and contemporary ingredients into their own stew -- Stonesy is the only term that really captures the song's essence in the end. Built around a delicate, two-chord acoustic guitar strum and the sort of country-tinged piano chords that were the specialty of longtime Stones sideman Nicky Hopkins, "Till the Next Goodbye" is a lazy ballad with seemingly simple lyrics that somehow capture perfectly the melancholy and the frustrations inherent in a "Dark End of the Street"-type affair: "Yeah, a movie house on 42nd Street/Ain't a very likely place for you and I to meet/Watching the snow swirl around your hair and around your feet." In the mid-'70s, a 42nd Street movie theater would have been a place of questionable repute and not a very romantic rendezvous. The lyric is unexpectedly complex; the point of view, Jagger as narrator, speaks to the mistress apologetically and with a guilty conscience. In one line on the bridge, Jagger manages to convey empathy, culpability, and frustration: "I can't go on like this/Can you? Can you?" On paper it seems clear, the narrator is asking out of the relationship (paraphrasing): "I can't do this, can you?" But the way Jagger sings it, it sounds like he's asking, "You can't do this anymore, can you?" He's conveying a different meaning altogether, almost as if he is playing both parts in one line. Once again, the tasteful drumming by Charlie Watts demonstrates that it is not what one plays so much as what one does not play. Watts chooses just the right time to make his entrance, allowing the verses to have a quiet impact and making a dramatic moment out of a simple drum fill and beat. Keith Richards Tex-Mex thirds on a second acoustic and Mick Taylor adds a rich slide electric to the mix.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
It's Only Rock 'N' Roll 1974 Virgin 4:36
LP Sleeve Box Set 2005 Toshiba EMI
The Rolling Stones Box Set 2009 Promotone 4:36