Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 168
Tues. July 16, 2013
“Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”
The Rolling Stones
After hearing the verdict of Florida’s now famous trial, I remembered what Mick Jagger once said about race relations in America, “It`s hard to remember just what that period(the sixties) was like, but I can assure you it was extremely different from now. There was attitude, things you take for granted now they wouldn`t then: social values, the way people mix, racial segregation, sexual segregation and orientation, the opportunities people would or wouldn`t have, class and money. And the list goes on.” I couldn’t believe that defendant was found not guilty. Nor could I fathom the emotions seething inside the parents and supports of the young victim, immediately I thought of the Rolling Stones social commentary on race in Urban America circa 1973, Goats Head Soup’s “Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).”
Mick Jagger was never comfortable talking about the meaning of the majority of his songs. “I am not a librarian of my own work. It’s a good thing not to be too involved with what you have done.” When asked specifically about the themes of “Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker),” in most interviews he avoided the topic by saying, “ A lot of times songs are very much of a moment, that you just encapsulate. They come to you, you write them, you feel good that day, or bad that day.” Jagger was infamously known driving reporters batty when they asked about the inspiration of Mick’s own song, The Rolling Stones front man would slyly reply, “I must be careful not to get trapped in the past. That’s why I tend to forget my songs.”
Although “Heartbreaker” was Jagger/Richards collaboration, Mick was far from the only star. I guess that’s why when Keith’s mentions this 1973 single, Richards’ described “Doo Doo Doo” as, “Heartbreaker has Billy Preston on keyboards, Mick Taylor on wah-wah and me on bass.” Billy Preston’s electric funk coming from his clavinet layers Jagger’s inner city dystopian lyrics with a sense of social justice swagger and sly bumping soul of dissent. In his book The Rough Guide to The Rolling Stones, Sean Egan described the musical rhythms of “Doo Doo Doo” as “Brilliant.” He also called Jagger’s “Heartbreaker,” as the band’s, “second protest song, and, despite its vaguely silly title, a pretty decent number on that level.” Despite The Stones international chart success and because the fact that “Heartbreaker” was recorded in Jamaica, Andy Johns remembered there was something slightly off about The Stones 1973 hit “Doo Doo Doo,” as he explained in Steve Appleford’s The Rolling Stones: The Stories Behind The Songs, “The track was really out of tune. Everyone was so out of “it that instead of recutting the track, Keith spent four months trying to get the bass in tune, and there was no way to make it work, because the electric piano and the guitar were out of tune with each other. Things were getting a little fuzzy there.”
If things were getting fuzzy back in 1973, the year of “Heartbreaker,” forty years later, the world must be going bald with madness. The urban decay that Jagger wrote about in “Doo Doo Doo” was even more intense and heated. As verdicts, laws and political talking heads continue fanning the flames of racial intolerance, they’re making us long for the days of the naïve dissonance of Goat Head Soup’s “Heartbreaker.”
Talking about his famous lyrical legacy, Mick Jagger once famously said, “The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either.” Always cryptic about songs like “Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker),” if you think Jagger wrote this Goats Head Soup protest song to spark social change, Jagger dispelled this notion when he said, “Rock and roll is a spent force in that we can’t expect any more from it, either as music or an instrument for social change. It is merely recycling itself and everything is a rehash of something else. I’m not that good a musician to break out of it – it’s all I can do.”
The soundtrack of the 1973 reflects the “Heartbreaker” racial unrest of modern day 2013. In the guise of funky rock classic, and as an outsider witnessing the decaying of inner city Americana, Mick Jagger went ahead and penned one of his most underrated 20th century protest songs. Fearing any retribution against the excess ways of the Rolling Stones, Mick let the music and rhythms talk for themselves. As “Doo Doo Doo” rose in the charts, Jagger remained tight lipped about the meaning of “Heartbreaker.” As demonstrations continue, today we honor The Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger and his song of dissent.
Did you know Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready is a huge Rolling Stone fan? In an interview with Two Feet Thick, McCready shared his memories of “Doo Doo Doo” when he said, “Yeah. ‘Heartbreaker.’ Have you heard — there’s a version, a 1973 version of them in Australia on a bootleg. What’s it called? (Heading For An Overload?) No. … What is it? It’s 1973. And they do a version of ‘Heartbreaker’ on there that will blow your fucking mind.” From Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready’s most excellent recommendation, here’s that live version of “Doo Doo Doo” circa 1973: Enjoy!