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The Rolling Stones Remove “Brown Sugar” from Setlist: “I Don’t Want to Get Into Conflicts”

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards fear the song's opening line may be misconstrued in 2021

Rolling Stones 2021 tour
The Rolling Stones, photo by Jeff Hahne/Getty Images
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    Despite the tragic recent passing of their longtime drummer Charlie Watts, The Rolling Stones are carrying on with their US tour, which commenced in St. Louis, Missouri, on September 26th. However, fans who were lucky enough to catch the band’s first few dates have noticed that one very popular Stones hit, “Brown Sugar,” hasn’t made the cut in the setlist so far.

    If you’ll recall, the opening line to “Brown Sugar” goes: “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields.” While the lyric has widely been interpreted as a critique of slavery, a recent interview with The Los Angeles Times indicates that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards feared the line would be misconstrued in 2021.

    “I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is,” Richards said. “Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it… At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this shit. But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track.”

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    Jagger added: “We’ve played ‘Brown Sugar’ every night since 1970, so sometimes you think, ‘We’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes.’ We might put it back in. The set list in a stadium show, it’s kind of a tough one. We did ‘Let It Bleed’ last night, which I managed to play on 12-string guitar.”

    Jagger went on to discuss how Watts’ absence has affected the Stones’ touring and rehearsal process. “We did so many shows with him and so many tours and so many recording sessions, it’s strange being without him,” the singer said. “When he was sick, he said, ‘You’ve gotta just carry on and do this tour. Don’t stop because of me.’ So we did.”

    In a recent lengthy interview with Rolling Stone, Jagger further explained Watts’ impact on the group, both personally and proffesionally. “He held the band together for so long, musically, because he was the rock the rest of it was built around,” he said. “The thing he brought was this beautiful sense of swing and swerve that most bands wish they could have. We had some really nice conversations in the last couple of years about how all this happened with the band. It’s a huge loss to us all. It’s very, very hard.”

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    The Rolling Stones’ “No Filter Tour” runs through the end of August. Check out the tour’s schedule below, and grab tickets here.

    The Rolling Stones 2021 Tour Dates:
    10/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ SoFi Stadium
    10/24 – Minneapolis, MN @ U.S. Bank Stadium
    10/29 – Tampa, FL @ Raymond James Stadium
    11/02 – Dallas, TX @ Cotton Bowl Stadium
    11/06 – Las Vegas, NV @ Allegiant Stadium
    11/11 – Atlanta, GA @ Mercedes-Benz Stadium
    11/15 – Detroit, MI @ Ford Field
    11/20 – Austin, TX @ Circuit of The Americas

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