The Rolling Stones, “Plundered My Soul”

Posted on July 5, 2010 by and

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Song: “Plundered My Soul”
45 rpm / Bonus track from Exile On Main St.
Release Date: April 2010
Genre: Rock


“I hate quittin’ but I’m close to admittin’ I’m a sorry case.” And it took Jagger three verses into “Plundered My Soul” to tell us that. “Plundered My Soul” was supposedly a lost track / outtake from the original Exile sessions. But as information has seeped out and as Jagger hints throughout the song, was “Plundered My Soul” an actual gem from the Exile sessions?

No it wasn’t. Maybe it was a diamond in the rough, though.

What existed of the song was the basic lazy rhythm. There was no title. There were no vocals. There were no lyrics. There wasn’t even Mick Taylor. So Mick Jagger summoned Mick Taylor to the studio in 2009 and Mr. Taylor laid down some new rhythm tracks as well as new riffs. Jagger wrote the lyrics and sang them with Bob Clearmountain mixing it, trying to make it sound like the Mick of ’72. Now add Cindy Mizelle and Lisa Fischer singing background, and you have a new old Stones number.

Along with “Plundered” there are six other unreleased Stones numbers from the session included on the new Exile remaster as well as alternate takes of “Loving Cup” and “Soul Survivor.” But there is some public outcry that “Plunder” is fraudulent because of its limited lineage to the original sessions.

I say, “So what.”  It may have not been the best choice as a single to represent the re-issue. “Dancing In The Light” would’ve made more sense. Nonetheless, “Plundered My Soul” is a great song. One of the better tracks the Stones have recorded since Tattoo You. (And if I recall, Tattoo You included some “older” songs.) The song has Mick grappling with the identity of the number, the identity of the band and the identity of Exile On Main St.

Mick opens with, “Can you believe it? / I’ve won more medals in this love game /I’ve been resting on my laurels / I’m a bad loser / I’m a yard off my pace.” He’s openly admitting he’s been riding his fame and now he’s up against one of the most fabled records in rock history, and it’s his own. 38 years later he’s questioning can he ever hit that mark again.

“My indiscretions made a bad impression / Guess I was misunderstood.” Is this Mick projecting the backlash he’s going to get for messing with Exile or just a broader comment on his past. Either way, it’s a pealing away of the brashness of his character.

“Plunder” hints to Ronnie Wood’s recent backslide (“I heard some gossip, you’ve become an alcoholic, you’re dryin’ out./ So I phoned every clinic in the yellow pages, not a trace I found.”) Or is that a reference to Keith’s new direction?

Whatever it all means is open for interpretation, like great art is. It’s a song of self-reflection about a career in music. It’s an ode to Exile On Main St. It’s an anthem to rock and roll. And ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Rolling Stones, in all their newfound old glory.

Grade: A


Exile’s exile.  Something has been plundered, to be sure.  Whether or not it’s Mr. Jagger’s by now splintered soul,  I cannot say with certainty.   I’ll ask him tomorrow at breakfast.  I love Exile On Main Street.  For all the reasons that rock historians love to rhapsodize about…Atmosphere. Lore. Soul. Murk. Mayhem. Excess & Exile.  Lots and lots of exile. It also has some of the most beautiful, life-preserving bridges ever erected in song.  Ever.  And it’s THE STONES!The flipping Rolling Stones.

I want to love this song.  I want to believe it could, some 38 years later, recapture that period of their lives for us to vicariously contemplate and get lost in.  Had they not gone into exile, they might have settled into semi-retirement writing songs about the bucolic joys of the countryside, replete with odes to their livestock.  Instead they finish off what is possibly the holy trinity of all their studio recordings.  The finest, most fully realized, most definitive Rolling Stones albums:  Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street.  The previous were just them finding their feet after kicking off the boots of their heroes.  And a bunch of great songs, of course.  Plundered My Soul doesn’t inspire or transport and nor can it be expected to.   Technically this song should hold up and technically some of  the others on Exile should not.  But what makes Exile a wonder has nothing to do with such things.   It is another fine example of how the creative process can perform an alchemy of sorts when elements that can’t be charted are at play.

The opening guitar on Plundered My Soul is weak and sad, but it does fall into a more contagious rhythm as it goes along.   I like the splashiness of the cymbals and how the vocals almost lag behind them.   The piano should be higher in the mix, if you want to get all Jimmy Miller on it.   It is ultimately second rate, but better than anything they’ve done recently.  It is interesting to hear Mr. Jagger imitate his  70’s self, who was  imitating Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters…And yes, the lyrics reveal a more vulnerable Mr. Jagger than we’ve come to expect, but is this his attempt to write what he thinks the song and it’s inherent mythology demands?   Or something drawn from personal experience?  It’s hard to say.

Points for trying to keep it real and for the restraint and respect given it on the mixing board, which can be the cruelest of abattoirs.  Watch the excellent and fascinating Stones in Exile or read Robert Greenfield’s book on Exile or his more recent, A Day in the Life, for a glimpse into this period, both micro and macro (and macabre) , rather than a half baked song salvaged from it.

Grade: B-

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