‘Loving Cup’ is one of The Rolling Stones‘ most underrated album cuts. Featuring a genius piano arrangement from Nicky Hopkins, the Exile on Main St. track fuses honky-tonk country and folk-blues with the group’s signature take on rock and roll as Mick Jagger delights in revealing just how dishevelled and downtrodden he is. ‘Loving Cup’ was never bombastic or immediately catchy enough to be a single, but it’s a hidden gem that’s worth revisiting on one of the greatest albums of all time.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Jack White felt a kinship with the song. His noted love of both The Beatles and Led Zeppelin makes it inevitable that he would hold the same fondness towards the Stones, and White’s modern-day fusion of folk and blues with rock and roll makes ‘Loving Cup’ the perfect reference point. White always seems game to pay tribute to his musical heroes, but when it came to the Stones, he actually got to show off his fandom with the band themselves.
That opportunity came during The Rolling Stones’ two-night stand at The Beacon Theatre during the fall of 2006. Martin Scorsese was on hand those nights to shoot a concert film of the group, later released as Shine a Light in 2008. There are a couple of special guests during that concert film, including Christina Aguilera getting down and dirty on the Let It Bleed cut ‘Live With Me’ and Buddy Guy helped to add a genuine Chicago blues edge to Muddy Waters’ ‘Champagne and Reefer’.
White is also on hand to bring the country stomp of ‘Loving Cup’ to life. Trading vocal lines with Jagger, White adds an earnest sincerity to Jagger’s more refined “been there done that” professionalism. This is just another night for Jagger, but it clearly means the world to White, who seems to win over the more stately Jagger by getting close on the same mic to harmonize with him the same way that Jagger and Keith Richards used to do. Keef ain’t hitting those notes anymore, but White is more than willing to go big.
White also gets his chance with the band, slotting in between Richards and Ronnie Wood for some slide guitar action. When Keith puts an arm on White’s shoulder, the smile that breaks out on White’s face is unmistakable. He’s having the time of his life, getting to play with his heroes and standing shoulder to shoulder with them not as a fan but as a respected peer. It’s the kind of moment that any music fanatic dreams about.
Check out White’s take on ‘Loving Cup’ with the Stones down below.