That Dandy Classic Track of the Day #21

Jig-Saw Puzzle – The Rolling Stones (Beggar’s Banquet, 1968)

The Stones channel their inner-Dylan. With an excellent blues slide-guitar from Keith Richards, Nicky Hopkins piano and understated drumming from Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger lyrically takes us into the gutter to examine the lives of various misfits and weirdos from an observational point-of-view.

I’ve never been sure if this is supposed to be his approximation of a particular Rolling Stones vantage point and thought process or just him experimenting with his songwriting style through a Bob Dylan-colored filter, but this slice of countrified-blues is a true standout for me on the excellent “Beggar’s Banquet”. The song stretches out for six minutes as it holds a steady, consistent (cynics would say repetitive) beat throughout and features Brian Jones Mellotron creating a strange, psychotic effect.

My favorite parts are when he starts singing about the gangster who looks so frightening with a “luger” (I’ve always loved the way he spits out the word here)in his hand and then breaks down how ordinary he seems on the outside, but would kill a guy when it comes down to it. Also there are two instrumental breakdowns at the 2:00 and 4:55 where I just envision the full band being in thrall having a bluesy-blast jamming in their prime. It’s semi-magical. As the song fades out it’s like a slinky on acid saunters out of the room. Or something like that.

When researching this song it’s been noted this gem has never been performed by the band live! Maybe the much more well-known “Sympathy For the Devil” is all they can stand to do as far as six-minute blues epics from the album, but man would that be special!

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