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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 142
Thurs. June 20, 2013

“Memory Motel”
The Rolling Stones

1976

“♫ You’re
just a
memory of
a Love
that used
to mean
so much to
me
♫”

Every guy has a “Hannah” in their life the one flame, no matter how long that spark has been out every once in a while comes flicking back; Even though you can’t remember her face but her voice, her giggle and breath are still vivid— it’s so real that longing for that intimate moment between the two of you in the dark, the shadows on strangers sheets comes flashes back in memory of a song.

Whenever I spin Black and Blue’s “Memory Motel,” I speculate who was Mick Jagger’s original inspiration for Hannah? It may have been Carly Simon with whom Jagger collaborated by singing on her hit single “You’re So Vain.” Could it have been about a stolen moment about Jagger’s wife Bianca? Maybe “Memory’s” Hannah is a reference to Rolling Stone Magazine photojournalist Annie Liebovitz, who was the official photographer of The Stones 1975 Tour of Americas that inspired “Motel.” Jagger did share this about the girl from “Memory” when he said, “But actually I don’t think that there’s any particular . . . it’s more about the tour, really, rather than about the girl. A guitar player, she is.”

Forget the speculation about Hannah, my favorite “Memory” of “Motel” is the way The Glimmer Twins trade reminiscing lyrics about their own unforgettable flames. What makes this Black and Blue beauty such a memorable stay is the honest and heartfelt way Jagger and Richards croon their parts in this lyrical Passion play of a paramour that will not leave the room of their “Memory Motel.”

Jagger talked about how “Memory Hotel” came to life when he explained, “Keith or I might have had the initial idea (for a song), but after a while you can’t separate who wrote it. We just sit down and do them, sometimes in the studio, sometimes at home. Like here, this song, Memory Motel, I wrote the first part, the piano part, which I played. I play the bloody piano, right? Okay, so I’m going, mmmmm-mmmmm, a-mmmmmm, and Keith goes, hmmmmmgghh… uhhh… that sounds all right…, and I say, Well, I only just started it, I ain’t finished yet, ’cause I like to get everything finished, done, written on paper, typed up, all written out. But he doesn’t like that so he says, I’ve got a middle bit here, and he sits down at the other piano, the electric piano, and he plays the middle bit. Then I learn that and he learns my part, and THEN we make the track, and I sing what I’ve got. And then I go and finish the words. They’re all done in a day. And in fact, when Keith wrote the middle bit, he did those words… he goes… mmmm… she’s got a mind… of her own… Anyway, that’s how, for instance, we wrote that song. Boring, isn’t it?
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Far from boring, I believe Bill Janovitz described this Black and Blue cut best in his book Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones, when he wrote, ““Memory Motel” is a modern epyllion, a romantic mini-epic. Set over this wash of instrumentation, Mick sings the song within the song, as if enchanted by the siren song Hannah sang for him on the beach that “stick right in [his] brain.” It’s as captivating vignette about how a man could become ensnared in an affair that nags at him as something more than a road fling.

Although we may never know the real identity of Mick’s mysterious Hannah, Jagger did share an insight to his secret lyrical paramour when he said, “(T)he girl in Memory Motel is actually a real, independent American girl… Actually, the girl in Memory Motel is a combination (of a real girl and a fantasy).” Relive the memories with this unappreciated Rolling Stones ballad; an ode to the girl who they left behind… this mystery woman must have made an impression on The Glimmer Twins because when you spin this memorable Black and Blue beauty, it sounds like this siren will never leave a vacancy inside the mind of Mick Jagger’s “Memory Motel.”

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