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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 309
Mon, Nov 19, 2012

“Hey Negrita”
The Rolling Stones

1976

“♫ Just
a momentita/
not so fast
♫”

Even though The Stones found success creatively and on the charts during both the glory days of the Brian Jones and Mick Taylor eras, the rarely mentioned Ron Wood years beginning with 1975 are often overlooked in the history of the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards has done nothing but praise Ron Wood since he’s introduction to The Stones during the often misjudged 1976’s Black and Blue. During Taylor’s reign as second guitarist, Keef always complained that Mick had his axe turned way too loud. In contrast, Wood tuned his guitar to synch up with Richards; Wood’s blending blues method was more in groove with Keith Richards’ style of dueling guitars. Keith explained why Wood is such an addition to The Rolling Stones live arsenal when he wrote in his book Life, “Ronnie [Wood]’s an all-rounder. he can play loads of things and different styles. He’s an incredible sympathetic player. He can surprise you at time. I enjoy playing with him still, very, very much. He’s a lovely slide player. And he genuinely loves his music.”

Ron Wood found like-minded fan of Reggae rhythms for Richards was living in Jamaica when The Stones recorded Goats Head Soup in 1973. Reggae was one of Ronnie’s favorite style of choice when he first joined The Stones. Not only was Wood a fan of Reggae but he’s one of the few Rolling Stone members who can claim to have played on stage with Bob Marley, Woodie explained when he said, “I played with Bob Marley at the Oakland Coliseum when I lived in Malibu. One of his guitar players, Al Anderson, had had his guitar stolen so I brought a guitar up to the Coliseum for him, and Al said, “Come and play with us.” After a couple of songs on stage and I got the “You’re all right” look [from Bob Marley] and so I played right through the encore.”

Woodie’s experience with Marley on stage at the Oakland Coliseum inspired Ron’s guitar riff as he retold to According to The Rolling Stones when he said, “I had this particular lick that I took into the studio and the other said, “What are we going to start with?” and I said, “I’ve got this song.” Charlie was sitting behind his kit, so he was already into it, and then Keith and Mick both got into the motion of it. That was “Hey Negrita,” which came together very easily. The key to getting a song across in this band is never to try and write all the words. If you’ve got the rhythm, you’re lucky! Let Mick write the words and then you’re in with a chance.”

Ron Wood’s first foray on the Rolling Stones Black and Blue session resulted in this very reggae inspired “Hey Negrita.” Ron was right, Jagger felt Woodie’s inspiration and finished the lyrics as tried to explain the meaning of “Negrita” when he said, “Hey Negrita. It’s a compliment. I mean, it’s not a put down. I mean, what’s the problem, the ‘Hey’ part? No, I think ‘hey’ will get past. What, you think colored people won’t like it? Well… only the most sensitive ones. It’s about South Americans, that’s just what you say, you know? You say, hey Negrita to a lady! In fact, it’s been done, been said to my old lady (Bianca de Macias), you see?” I love Ronnie’s first inspired Rolling Stone song “Hey Negrita” because it reminds me of my Colombian parents. Jagger’s correct; in South America Negrita is a term of endearment. For as long as I could recall, my Papi would lovingly always call my Mami, “Negrita!” So when I hear “Hey Negrita” it makes me smile.

Why is Ron Wood an essential element to modern day Rolling Stones sound? Keith Richards explained when he said, “Woody and I can start playing together until we don’t know who played the last lick. It’s as close as that. We both become one instrument.” If Wood and Richards are so in synch when playing together, it would explain why Wood received only an “Inspiration By” credit on “Hey Negrita.” Ronnie explained the songwriting situation on “Hey Negrita” when he said in According to The Rolling Stones, “I didn’t get songwriting credit, apart from on “Hey Negrita” which was credited as “Inspiration by Ron Wood.” There were a lot of “inspired” by days like that. There were a number of people who took umbrage and who’d never see the Rolling Stones again. But I thought, “OK, I have to keep plodding along, they’re older than me and I’m still the new boy. I’ll always be the youngest member of the band, so I’ll put that down to experience. One day I’ll get my fair share.” Sure enough, it took a long time, but it did happen. And in any case, who’s better to be an apprentice with than the band that you always wanted to be in. So I’m lucky enough to be blessed with being able to play guitar.”

Now you understand why Ron Wood has outlasted former members, Jones and Taylor, in his time as guitarist to The Rolling Stones. Wood is the perfect foil with Keef’s guitar, together, has a fiery simpatico sound that recreates Stones classics like live on stage. “Hey Negrita” is Ron Wood’s song and this funky reggae rocker was his first successful introduction as a member of The Rolling Stones. The Stones not only survived the passing of Brian Jones and the quitting of Mick Taylor, adding Woodie to Mick and Keith created the perfect combination. The proof is in the grooves; you cannot forget, Ron Wood’s riffs are one the main reasons, The Stones remain one of the best rock and roll bands of all time.

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