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Music

The song Billie Joe Armstrong wants to be played at his funeral

@SamWKemp

To people who grew up on the euphoric churn of pop-punk, Billie Joe Armstrong is El Capitano. With his distinctive drawl and choppy riffs, the Green Day guitarist and vocalist is the embodiment of 1990s teen rebellion and has been responsible for introducing countless kids to the joys of guitar music. Like all of us, Armstrong is looking for the perfect exit music. Although it’s still a while off yet, the musician recently the song he wants to be played at his funeral.

When Entertainment Weekly asked Armstrong to name the track he wants playing on that sad day, he named The Rolling Stones’ ‘Waiting On A Friend’ from their 1981 album Tattoo You. “It’s one of the best songs they’ve ever written,” he explained. “When you’re up in heaven, or wherever you’re at, you’re just waiting for friends to come along. For something dark like a funeral, it’s a bit more positive.”

Originally recorded in 1972 during the sessions for Goats Head Soup, it wouldn’t be until the 1980s that ‘Waiting On A Friend’ would finally find its place. Nine years after Mick Jagger and company coined the track, it was released as a single and, thanks to MTV, which was launched in 1981, did very well in America, reaching new audiences thanks to its tailor-made music video.

Many regard ‘Waiting On A Friend’ as marking a new maturity in The Stones’ songwriting. For a band with a reputation as red-blooded bad boys, the track is indeed a refreshingly tender offering. With a Latin-infused groove at its root, ‘Waiting On A Friend’ can be seen to reveal Mick Jagger’s desire to meet a woman he can be friends with. After all that talk of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s and ’70s, the frontman expresses his dissatisfaction with the nature of his romantic relationships, deeming them superficial compared to the depth of real love.

Jagger was a little more cynical in his interpretation. “First of all,” he said shortly after the song’s release, “It’s really NOT about waiting on a woman friend. It’s just about a FRIEND; it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman. I can see people saying, Oh, we’re all much older now, Mick’s writing this much more compassionate stuff, must be about a real person. But that’s only in their perception of it.”

Whatever your interpretation, the song remains one of the most poignant offerings from The Rolling Stones’ catalogue. But for Billie Joe Armstrong, it’s more than a good song; it’s the perfect way to say goodbye.

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