Mick Jagger discusses The Rolling Stones song that was “virtually ignored”

The comings and goings of The Rolling Stones‘ song ‘Loving Cup’ is a fascinating insight into how the band works as a unit. The first appearance that the track ever made was at the band’s 1969 free concert at Hyde Park, which doubled as a memorial to late guitarist Brian Jones, who had died just two days before. At that point, the song was titled ‘Gimme a Little Drink’.

It wouldn’t be until three years later that ‘Loving Cup’ would be officially recorded on 1972’s Exile on Main St. As a piano-focused gospel track led by sessions ace Nicky Hopkins, ‘Loving Cup’ was transformed from a folky country track to a soul masterpiece. As the closing track to the album’s second side, ‘Loving Cup’ is a heartfelt ode to love and carnal knowledge, something that the Stones were experts at.

Early concerts on the band’s subsequent 1972 American tour would occasionally feature the track, but after the fourth show on the tour, ‘Loving Cup’ was dropped from setlists. The middle section of these shows featured a softer acoustic/ballad section that included ‘Love In Vain’, ‘Sweet Virginia’ and ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, so the inclusion of ‘Loving Cup’ was deemed unnecessary.

Mick Jagger believed that audiences didn’t respond well to the song. It would take another 30 years for ‘Loving Cup’ to return to the band’s live repertoire, having been revived for the 2002 ‘Forty Licks’ tour. The track was revived at the insistence of pianist and musical director Chuck Levell, who had to convince Jagger that the song was worth going back to.

“On the ‘Forty Licks’ tour, when we were preparing the set list for a show in Yokohama, Chuck Leavell suggested we play ‘Loving Cup’, the ballad from Exile On Main St,” Jagger recalled in 2003. “I didn’t want to play the tune and I said, ‘Chuck, this is going to die a death in Yokohama. I can’t even remember the bloody song, and no one likes it. I’ve done it loads of times in America, it doesn’t go down that well, it’s a very difficult song to sing, and I’m fed up with it!’”

“Chuck went,’ Stick in the mud!’ So I gave in and put it in the setlist,” Jagger added. “Lo and behold, we went out, started the song and they all began applauding… Which just proves how, over time, some of these songs acquire a certain existence, or value, that they never had when they first came out. People will say, ‘What a wonderful song that was,’ when it was virtually ignored at the time it was released.”

Check out ‘Loving Cup’ down below.

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