Midnight Rambler

This particular take of Midnight Rambler just might be my favorite Rolling Stones tune. It's certainly not an infatuation with the subject matter, which is third & first person Boston Strangler, but the music, driving rhythm, and complexity of the song. Maybe it's the fact that the main riff is straight Chuck Berry with a very clever variation of the rhythm. Richards may be as significant an innovator of his influences as say, Robert Johnson was with his. Take a song like Son House' My Black Mama reworked by Johnson into Walking Blues, or conversely Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Sixteen reworked by Richards into Midnight Rambler!

A. Structure:

The lyrical arrangement is quite different than the studio version.

Verse #1:

(There is hand clapping in the left channel during the opening riff)

Line 1. I talkin' bout the midnight rambler

Line 2. E...everybody got to go

Line 3. Well I'm a talkin' 'bout the midnight gambler

Line 4. The one you never seen before

Line 5. I'm sighin' down the wind so sadly

Line 6. A listen and you hear me moan

Line 7. Well I'm a talkin' 'bout the midnight gambler

Line 8. E...every got to go

Line 9. "Yeah tell-on"(Marker #1)

Verse #2

Line 10. Talkin' 'bout the Midnight Gambler

Line 11. The one you never seen before

Line 12. I'm talkin' 'bout the Midnight Rambler

Line 13. A did ya see me jump the garden wall

Line 14. I don't give you a hoot of a warning

Line 15. A dressed up in a black cat cloak

Line 16. I don't dig the light of this morning

Line 17 I split the time the cockerel crows

Instrumental Break #1: Jagger can play the harp like nobody's business

Verse #3

Line 18. I'm talkin' 'bout the Midnight Rambler

Line 19. Well...the one that stole the rock 'n roll sho

Line 20. Well I'm a talkin' 'bout the Midnight Gambler

Line 21. E...everybody got to go

At 2:10 Instrumental Break #2: Check out Charlie!

Tempo changes

The following vocal lines are muffled:

Theory: Jagger has his hands cupped around the mic. and harp. He is speaking through the harp without playing it, which produces these nearly inaudible sounds.

Line 22. "Whoa...whoa"(Marker #2)

Line 23. (A and Oh) don't do that (9 times)

I believe he's talking to the crowd here:

Line 23. Hello sweety

Line 24. Unintelligible lines. I've been trying to figure these out since I was in me short trousers. Still no luck.

At 4:14 there is electronic noise present in the recording. Maybe some 60 cycle disturbance.

Instrumental Break #3

At 4:31 Part I of the song ends. It is marked by a drum crash and a change in tempo. There is more electronic noise at this point.

Line 25. Yeah (the crowd mic. "comes-up" in the left channel)

Line 26. Well all right

Line 27. Oh yeah well all...

Line 28. Ry ry ry ry right ry right ry right (improvised)

Line 29. Oh yeah...oh yeah...yeah...yeah...yeah...yeah...yuup

Verse #4

Line 30. Well...you heard about the Boston...

Line 31. Man in the crowd: "G*d-dang-it"(Marker #3)

Line 32. Honey it's not one of those...

Line 33. Woman in the crowd shrieks: "Yeah"(Marker #4)

Line 34. Talkin' 'bout the midnight...sh*t

Line 35. Did you see me jump the bedroom door

Line 36. I'm called a hit and run raper in anger

Line 37. Or just a knife sharpened tippy toe

Line 38. Or just a shoot 'em dead brainbell "jang-gler"

(jongleur is French for juggler)

Line 39. Everybody got to go

Verse #5

Line 40. If ya...ever meet the Midnight Rambler

Line 41. And he's prow-lin' down your marble hall

Line 42. And he's prancin' like a...proud Black Panther

Line 43. You should say I...told you so

Line 44. If ya listen for...the Midnight Rambler

Line 45. Play it easy...easy...as you go

Line 46. I'm gonna smash down on your...plate glass windows

Line 47. Put my fist...through your...steel plated do..ooors

Line 48. I've got my terror...he's gonna come my door

Instrumental Break #4

At 7:42 Part II of the song ends. Tempo change.

Line 49. Yeah(Marker #5 at 7:47)

Line 50. Yeah(Marker #6 at 8:07)

Verse #6

Line 51. Well I'm a talkin' 'bout the Midnight Rambler

Line 52. The one you never seen before

Line 53. Well I'm a talkin' 'bout the...Midnight Rambler

Line 54. A-did you see me jump your...garden wall

Line 55. And if you ever catch...the Midnight Rambler

Line 56. Steal your mis-tress...from under your nose

Line 57. Go it easy with your cloak and dang-ger (dagger)

Line 58. I'll stick my...knife right down your throat

Line 59. And baby that hurts

At 8:49 Part III and the song end.

Not a pretty picture. Original punk/grunge/angst rockers without a doubt! Several groups have been inspired by this particular song including AC/DC's Night Prowler, and musically Rod Stewart's Born Loose. A blatant Chuck Berry, with three long parts (fast-slow-fast), also divided by tempo changes.

B. Reference Recordings, Markers and Conclusions:

1. Compared to MSG November 27, 1969 audience source


Lines 5-7: Are replaced by lines 14 -17

No Marker #1

Lines 14-17: Are replaced by lines 5-7

Line 18: Starts with "Well..."

No Marker #2: Says: "All right...all right"

Line 23: "Don't do that" is 10 times versus 9

The improvised section from lines 25-29 is quite different

No Marker #3 and #4

Line 34: The one that shut...

Line 39: And if you ever catch...

Line 40: Is "Play it easy...as you go"

Line 41: Is "I'm gonna smash down on your fare Black Panther"(?)

Line 42: Is "Everybody...got to go"

Line 43: Is "And if you catch the Midnight Rambler"

No Line 47

No Marker #5 and #6

Line 50: Is "Gambler" not Rambler

Line 55: Is "take" not steal

2. Compared to MSG November 28, 1969 2nd audience source

All "markers" are present. The song is note-for-note and word-for-word the same as GYYYO. There are no overdubs that I can detect.

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