Rolling Stones :: Waiting On A Friend (Video 1981)

waiting-on-a-friend.jpgWhen it comes to classic and essential Rolling Stones albums, 1981’s Tattoo You (while not bad) doesn’t immediately spring to mind, but it was without a doubt the best Stones album of the ’80s.

Comprised of almost entirely ’70s sessions outtakes, the LP contains a few must-have tracks, including the Goats Head Soup outtake “Waiting On A Friend.” Recorded in Kingston, Jamaica at Dynamic Sound in 1972, “Waiting On A Friend” was scrapped (not having lyrics) in favor of other material only to be resurrected at the dawn of the eighties, which, fortuitously, just happened to correspond with the dawn of the music video and MTV.

This proved to be perfect timing, and the nimble Stones took full advantage of the new medium (therefore being one of the first groups of their generation to do so.) One of the initial fruits of the video age was the Stones urbanite “Waiting On A Friend” video, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and filmed on location in Manhattan’s East Village. Savvy viewers will note the Stones (then) friend Peter Tosh makes a cameo in the video, sitting with Jagger and Richards on the stoop, before the two leave for the bar to meet up with Wyman, Wood, and Watts. Also of note: The building of said stoop is the same one featured on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album (98 & 96 St. Mark’s Place). Oh, and by the way, that sax is compliments of Sonny Rollins.

Rolling Stones :: Waiting On A Friend
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21 thoughts on “Rolling Stones :: Waiting On A Friend (Video 1981)

  1. I’ve always liked this song a lot, and the video is good, albeit slighly cheesy, fun.

  2. I was about 11 or 12 when I first saw this video and I’m fairly certain it’s the first time I’d ever seen the Rolling Stones (yes, I know, I was a total dork and wasn’t into music up until about that age – believe me, I’ve atoned in the subsequent 24 years). What’s even more striking to me is that this song, of all of the great Stones tunes, pops into my head on a rather frequent basis. Isn’t that odd?

  3. I had not seen this in a long time. It’s funny because I thought I remembered Sonny Rollins being featured in the video playing as a street musician. Shows how reliable memory is. Also, for me the most interesting thing is the street scenes, having my memory of what NYC looked like back then refreshed. Everything after they get to the bar seems pretty lame.

  4. What a great video, bringing back great memories of a really great time back in the east village of NYC. Tosh at the time was hanging with Mick and Keith a whole lot (just having finished up Pete’s Bush Doctor album, which they both collaborated on his version of the Temptation’s “Gonna Walk and Don’t Look Back”).

    Would see Keith hanging in many of the local bars and clubs (especially the Ritz) around that time…he had a loft somewhere near Broadway and Great Jones a the the time

    I remember when they shot this video down at the St Marks Bar and Grill, was lined up for hours hoping to get inside as an extra…but no luck.

    Walked by that stoop a thousand times and never realized that it was the Physical Graffiti building…go figure!

  5. This is a great tune. I’ve heard different accounts as to when it was recorded, but the ’72 time frame sounds as reasonable as any I’ve heard. I’d also read that the Rollins solo was pretty much a retake of the Mick Taylor guitar solo that was wiped from the multi-track. I don’t think Mick J would have been inclined to release the track with Mick T’s solo still intact 7 years after his departure from the band. Don’t know how true that is, but the song DOES lend itself to a Taylor-esque solo, at least it does when I try to play along with Rollins (none too deftly, I must concede) on guitar. If I were more of a Stones scholar I’d probably know the answer already, but I’d love to see a chronology of where each of the ‘Tattoo You’ songs hailed from ‘time/place’ wise. Side one of this album has some ‘skippers’ (IMHO, of course) but Side 2 was a smooth listen all the way through. And the subject tune was as great a ‘standalone’ track as anything after Sticky Fingers.

  6. edg, i read that Taylor actually did sue the band when he heard his guitarwork on “Tops” which was recorded during the same 72 sessions

  7. I agree with Rich above, side two of Tattoo You is one of the most consistent sides the Stones ever had. Even their best albums were spotty, but the last half of this one is flawless. Too, it’s the only record later in their career where they sort of act their age. Since about ’69 or ’70, the band seemed to figure out a formula for what made a “Rolling Stones Song” and what made a “Rolling Stones Album,” and they pretty much painted by numbers from then on.

    The laid-back, unpretentious sound of Tattoo You is the one crack in the armor of all that rock god bullshit. Just a bunch of aging dudes who’ve led a charmed life, sitting back – satisfied – and making music that reflected that place they were at.

    Start Me Up, of course, is typical Stones cookie-cutter garbage, that’s why you gotta stick with side two. Never flip that record over.

  8. Jagger signed Tosh to his label under which he released Bush Doctor and Mystic Man. Mick sings backing vocals on Walk and Don’t Look Back. There’s a tall guy with dreads outside the bar when they walk in – hard to say if its Tosh.

  9. didn’t know it was the same building featured on physical graffiti, but i heard the doorway is the same harvey keitel stood in for taxi driver

  10. the funny part of the video is when Jagger takes off his hat and has “hat-hair” head. Ron Wood has a laugh at that pointing it out to Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts. Mick, of course, is oblivious… just dancing and mugging for the cameras.

  11. just watched the video again for the first time in years and it’s only Wyman and Charlie Watts laughing at Mick, including his “dance moves”. You know they also think it’s hysterical the Stones are filming a rock video at their age.

  12. What an honour for M.Taylor to be an example for S.Rollins saxsolo on waiting on a friend.I don’t believe it.

  13. Not sure if the doorway in the video is the same as in Taxi Driver, but in the flick “Sport” (Keitel), wearing white pants and a fedora as does mick, tells “Bickel” (DeNiro) that he’s “just waiting for a friend”. Check it out!

  14. The B side makes me cry it’s so damn good. Definitley the last of the Stones greats. Historically, it reigns from the 70’s (it’s obvious), and it, along with Goat’s Head Soup are a super duo. The grand finale.

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