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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 178
Fri. July 26, 2013

“Far Away Eyes”
The Rolling Stones

1978

“♫ Find
a girl
with far
away
eyes
♫”

During my time in New Orleans, I lived a few blocks away from one of my favorite dive bars Igor’s on St. Charles. You could actually sit outside, have one of the best burgers in Louisiana, a beer and watch the street cars go passing by. Since I lived literally around the corner from the bar, while I was there, I would take advantage and do my laundry while having a beer and a burger at Igor’s. That’s right; I would do my laundry at a bar. How many people can say that they did their laundry at a bar? My favorite part of Igor besides the beer, burger and washing machines was the vintage jukebox they had at the bar. There was this one song that this bartender Julie with her thick Southern Louisiana accent would make all of us sing along with her. And Julie’s favorite song was the sixth track from Some Girls, The Rolling Stones’ “Far Away Eyes.”

There is something magical about The Stones doing country. Birthed by their love of the blues, Mick Jagger loved putting on his metaphorical Stetson hat and squeezing into his cowboy boots like persona as his songwriting partner, guitarist Keith Richards talked about when he said, “Mick feels the need to get into these caricatures. He’s slightly vaudeville in his approach. Far Away Eyes is like that. He did it great every time except for the final take. It’s good when he does it straight ’cause it’s funny enough without doing a pantomime. It’s the SOUND version of what he was doing wrong VISUALLY. When he sings it as a caricature it sounds like it would be great for a show. You expect Mick to walk out in his cowboy duds on an 18-wheeler set (laughs). Or sing it into his CB as part of his skit.”

Jagger’s almost country twang like spoken vocal actually feels like we’re in the car with The Rolling Stones’ front man as he’s trying to find the right radio station. Mick really got inside the mindset of this lonesome-behind-the-wheel character in “Far Away Eyes” when he explained the inspiration to this Some Girls countrified classic, “You know when you drive through Bakersfield on a Sunday morning or Sunday evening – I did that about six months ago – all the country music radio stations start broadcasting live from L.A. black gospel services. And that’s what the song refers to. But the song’s really about driving alone, listening to the radio.

Igor’s wildly eccentric bartender, Julie from Southern Louisiana would take the verses and would have all of us at the bar croon along to the choruses. I like to think, at least, Jagger would find some humor in our drunken “Far Away Eyes” sing-a-long ritual. In Cyrus R.K. Patell’s 33 1/3 tome on The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls, Jagger talked about the southern influences on “Far Away Eyes” when he explained, “I love country music, but I find it hard to take seriously. I also think a lot of country music is sung with the tongue in cheek. The harmonic thing is very different from the blues. It doesn’t bend notes in the same way, so I suppose it’s very English really. Even though it’s been Americanized it feels very close to me, to my roots, so to speak.

While many believe it was Gram Parsons who influenced Some Girls most infamous country song, which Jagger refuted saying that The Stones play a “Sardonic quality” of country music; but Keith Richards had another theory that he shared when he said, “I know (Mick) listens to – and used to – a lot of Merle Haggard (who hails from Bakersfield, California) …When you think about it, he even sings Bakersfield in (Far Away Eyes)… I wonder why Bakersfield? I’ve got to ask him that. Maybe he doesn’t even know himself. It must go back to him listening to a lot of Merle Haggard.

Man how I loved living my days and nights living in New Orleans; it was so incredible that I actually remember half of it. The most important memories are ones that are linked to music. I recall being at the bar and dreaming of driving some rusty vintage car on a highway in the desert passing the city limits sign of Bakersfield, “Far Away Eyes” is a true road trip classic, a song that I have added to many vacation drive playlists. It’s the perfect car song because Jagger’s lyrics feel like your actually have your gas on the pedal somewhere in California. And every time I spin “Far Away Eyes,” I toast to my favorite New Orleans’ Dive Bar/Laundromat, that wacky bartender, Igor’s jukebox and the eternal memories of hanging at my favorite bar and crooning along to the country inspired catcalls of The Rolling Stones’ “Far Away Eyes.”

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