Mick Jagger isn’t exactly known for his calm, soothing aura. The legendary Rolling Stones frontman was born to be an entertainer, and his enthusiasm, both on record and on stage, helped contribute both to their initial appeal and their eventual longevity. The man has iconic moves for a reason.
But when it came to The Rolling Stones’ catalogue of songs, Jagger singled one song, in particular, out as representing the peak of the band’s manic energy. Even though it was a top ten single in both America and the UK when it was first released, ‘Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?’ is relatively obscure by The Stones’ standards today. However, it was still fresh in Jagger’s mind when he was interviewed by Rolling Stone journalist Jonathan Cott in 1968.
“‘Have You Seen Your Mother’ was like the ultimate freakout,” Jagger explained. “We came to a full stop after that. I just couldn’t make it with that anymore, what more could we say… All these songs were written in America. It is a great place to write because all the time you are being bombarded with all of it and you can’t help but try and put it in some kind of form.”
Jagger’s analysis of the song is relatively vague, but he seems to be implying that the huge influx of fame and notoriety came out in the performance of ‘Have You Seen Your Mother’. Keith Richards, the group’s chief riff maker, felt similarly about the band’s celebrity at the time and how it influenced their work, but he described it as having a negative effect on their songs.
“The only reason we were so hot on it was that the track blew our heads off, everything else was rushed too quickly,” Richards said. “Tapes were being flown – and lost. It needed another couple weeks. The rhythm section thing is almost lost completely… I never did like the record. It was cut badly. It was mastered badly and it was mixed badly.”
Regardless of whether you agree with either assessment, the song represented the Stones’ transition to psychedelia and away from their blues-based roots, eventually culminating in the Sgt. Pepper’s rip off Their Satanic Majesties Request. They would right the ship with Beggar’s Banquet the following year.