The Rolling Stones has discarded ‘Brown Sugar’, one of their hit songs hits, from their US tour. The move follows the criticism that the song, which topped the charts soon after its release in 1971, contained references to slavery and black women.
Keith Richards, the band’s veteran guitarist, confirmed the news in an interview with the ‘Los Angeles Times’ but said he was surprised the song was about the horrors of slavery. The 77-year-old musician said that he hoped “that we will be able to resurrect the little girl in her glory somewhere along the way”.
But Mick Jagger, lead singer and co-writer of the song, said that the reason the band won’t play the song on the current tour was the difficulty of compiling a lineup for the shows in the stadiums. “We’ve been playing Brown Sugar every night since 1970, so we thought we’d put the song off the set for now and see how it goes,” he told the paper. He also said, “We could put it back in”.
‘Brown Sugar is the band’s second most played live song after ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.
The catchy opening riff and melody drove the song to mainstream success and often overshadowed the song’s problematic references to bondage, sex, sadomasochism, and heroin. Discussing the song in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Jagger said, “I’d never write that song now. I’d probably censor myself. I’d think, ‘Oh God, I can’t. I have to stop.’ God knows what I’m talking about in that song. It’s such a mixed bag. All the nasty arguments in one go, “he added.
But criticism of his lyrics, which are said to be inspired by one of the singer’s girlfriends, has intensified recently. Last year, producer Ian Brennan criticized the band’s decision to continue “playing and profiting” from the song glorifying slavery, rape, torture and paedophilia.