‘Gimme Shelter’: The backing vocals on this track were provided by Merry Clayton who, on meeting Jagger, said: “Man, I thought you was a man, but you nothing but a skinny little boy!”
Originally titled ‘Good Time Woman’, the song was re-written during a series of tortuous endless sessions.
‘Street Fighting Man’
Despite being penned in the midst of social revolution, the lyrics were ambiguous. Later, Jagger said: “I thought it was a very good thing at the time. There was all this violence going on.”
‘It’s Only Rock And Roll But I Like It’
The track was originally sketched out by Mick Jagger and Faces guitarist (and later Rolling Stone) Ronnie Wood.
‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’
A showcase for Brian Jones’ replacement Mick Taylor. His guitar skills took the band in a new direction, allowing them to start jamming again, which they hadn’t done for a long time.
‘Wild Horses’ Originally penned as a lullaby for Keith Richards’ two month old son, Jagger re-wrote the lyrics focusing on his disintegrating relationship with Marianne Faithful.
‘Let It Bleed’
In order to break up a dispute between Mick Jagger their producer, Keith Richards told the duo that his fingers were bleeding so much from playing the guitar that they wouldn’t hold out much longer.
Rumored to be inspired by Angie Bowie, it was actually inspired by Marianne Faithful after her relationship with Jagger collapsed.
Despite hints he was singing about slavery, heroin and/or cunnilingus, in 1995 Jagger said:”God knows what I’m on about on that song, it’s such a mishmash all the nasty subjects in one go.”
‘Turd On The Run’ Mick Jagger plays harp on this track. Keith Richards said of his playing: “He’s not thinking when he’s playing harp, it comes from inside him.”
Keith Richards nailed the rhythm guitar part to this track in two takes.
‘Soul Survivor’ Another track dominated by Keith Richard’s guitar playing. Engineer George Chkiantz said that to understand Richard’s axe technique you needed to see him playing snooker. “It is absolutely explosive,” he said.
‘Sympathy For The Devil’
The track started off as a folk ballad before developing into a full on rocker. Jagger said he never intended the song to be an endorsement of black magic.
‘I Got The Blues’
Again this track was inspired by Mick Jagger’s long drawn out break up with Marianne Faithful. Their tempestuous relationship had gone through a suicide attempt, scandal, drugs and a miscarriage.
‘Factory Girl’ This track is noted for being one of the first times the upper class Stones indulged in a lyrical fantasy about the working class.
‘What To Do’
An early, experimental nod to Mersey Beat and Beach Boys harmony. The sound was thought to be encouraged by manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham who was keen that the band followed the latest musical fads.
Inspired by King Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour. Keith Richards said the track was “very Elizabethan”.
‘No Expectations’ The track was recorded in Olympic Studios in London with the band gathered in a circle, singing and playing into the assembled open microphones.
‘Take It Or Leave It’ This track was omitted from the US version of ‘Aftermath’ and would not emerge until the ‘Flowers’ compilation was released in 1967.
Thought to be about Mick Jagger’s soon to be ex Chrissie Shrimpton, who attempted suicide after she was abandoned for Marianne Faithful.
Despite this track being inspired by country music, Mick Jagger later dissed the genre saying: “I find it very hard to take seriously”.
The lyrics were penned by Marianne Faithful as she imagined a car crash victim in hospital crying out for morphine. Despite her later addiction, the singer said she was clean at the time of writing the track.
‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’
The original version of the track was performed in Rock And Roll Circus. In the film, the song is performed without the London Bach Choir.
‘Under My Thumb’
In 1969 the track took on a whole new meaning, when it served as the horrific soundtrack to the murder of Meredith Hunter at Altmont.
It was the first track to be recorded at Mick Jagger’s home studio of Stargroves in Berkshire. The band played together in a big room with Mick Taylor’s amp placed in the fireplace.
The Rolling Stones The Stories Behind The Biggest Songs by Steve Appleford reveals the tales behind some of the most important tracks of the 20th century. It is published by Carlton Books at £9.99 and is available now.