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The Rolling Stones retire 'Brown Sugar' due to slavery lyrics

The Rolling Stones duo, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have announced that the band will no longer be performing their 1969 classic ‘Brown Sugar’. The band are currently in the midst of a 13-date US tour and have not played the hit once since its start in St. Louis on September 26.

A staple of their live show since it came out, ‘Brown Sugar’ has been played well over 1,000 times and is second only to ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ in terms of the number of performances, per Rolling Stone. The last time the band played the track was in August 2019 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.

Now, in a new interview with The Los Angeles Times, responding to questions about the song’s absence from their sets, Jagger has explained that they’re giving the song a break amid all the racial discomfort and discussions of slavery that it has. 

“We’ve played ‘Brown Sugar’ every night since 1970, so sometimes you think, we’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes,” Jagger said. “We might put it back in.”  

Famously, it was guitarist Keith Richards, who wrote the song alongside Jagger during a 1969 session at the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama. He has revealed that he has been slightly taken aback by the discomfort about the lyrics, arguing that it has always meant to have been a grim story about slavery, rape and the rest. 

“I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is,” Richards said. “Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery?… But they’re trying to bury it. At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this s***.” 

He concluded that this might not be the end for ‘Brown Sugar’: “But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track.”

Jagger also said, “I never would write that song now,” he said, before adding: “I would probably censor myself. I’d think, ‘Oh God, I can’t. I’ve got to stop. I can’t just write raw like that.'”

Listen to the controversial ‘Brown Sugar’ below.

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