Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: October-December 1977 & March-April 1978 Recording location: Pathé Marconi Studios, Paris, France & Atlantic Studios, New York, USA
Producers: The Glimmer Twins Chief engineer: Chris Kimsey
Performed onstage: 1978-79, 1981-82, 1989-90, 1994-95, 1997-98, 2002-03, 2005-07, 2012-16
Bass: Bill Wyman
Electric guitars: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards & Ron Wood
Lead vocal: Mick Jagger
Background vocals: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards & Ron Wood
Electric piano: Ian McLagan
Harmonica: Sugar Blue
Saxophone: Mel Collins
(W)e still work closely on songs. It still comes together even when we haven't seen each other for months. We help each other on songs like Miss You which came together during the 1976 tour of Europe. A lot of our songs take a long time to come out.
I got that together with Billy Preston, actually. Yeah, Billy had shown me the four-on-the-floor bass-drum part, and I would just play the guitar. I remember playing that in the El Mocambo club when Keith was on trial in Toronto for whatever he was doing. We were supposed to be there making this live record... I was still writing it, actually. We were just in rehearsal.
During the rehearsal of the El Mocambo gig I wrote the song Miss You. So I remember that 'cause I was waiting for everyone in the band to turn up and I was with Billy Preston, and Billy Preston was playing the kick drum and I was always playing the guitar and I wrote Miss You on that so I remember that moment very well.
The idea for those (bass) lines came from Billy Preston, actually. We'd cut a rough demo a year or so earlier after a recording session. I'd already gone home, and Billy picked up my old bass when they started running through that song. He started doing that bit because it seemed to be the style of his left hand. So when we finally came to do the tune, the boys said, Why don't you work around Billy's idea? So I listened to it once and heard that basic run and took it from there. It took some changing and polishing, but the basic idea was Billy's.
Miss You wasn't coming together at all, then Billy said, Try playing octave riffs on the bass.
I have different ways of doing things. Sometimes I'll have a melodic idea, the tune and the chord sequence - and that was the case with Miss You. I had the riff and the melodic idea. Then I had a vague idea of the lyric, the oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee-oo bit and the chorus. So then you start roughing it out.
We didn't intentionally set out to make a DIS-CO record. To me, it's just like... that bass drum beat and my falsettos just fit nicely around the bass part. Vocally, it's more gospel, because nowadays disco records are much more repetitive... you know, I wanna dance and shake my booty repeated 89 times!
A lot of those songs like Miss You on Some Girls... were heavily influenced by going to the discos. You can hear it in a lot of those four on the floor rhythms and the Philadelphia-style drumming. Mick and I used to go to discos a lot... It was a great period. I remember being in Munich and coming back from a club with Mick singing one of the Village People songs - YMCA, I think it was - and Keith went mad, but it sounded great on the dance floor.
I thought it was important to keep up with beats and rhythms. Miss You was part of that. I went to Studio 54 - didn't like it. Mick did. Too posey for me. But the records were fantastic. Disco Inferno by The Trammps, George McCrae's Rock Your Baby, The O'Jays. My wife dances, and in those days we used to have lots of parties. Those records would always be on.
(Charlie had) been listening to a lot of this club music, as well. We would buy all these records and listen to them. So he was very aware of all these different grooves that were behind a lot of these dance tunes. And also, that was the heyday of dance music played with a live drummer. Charlie was very interested in it. He was totally aware of all the subtleties, so he would try now to play dance music all the time. He took to it very easily.
That’s one of the reasons he’s Charlie Watts. He’s got that deep groove. And if I can find the right tempo and the right riff for him, you know, it’s all smiles. He just has a beautiful feel for reading songs. He kind of knows what you’re going to do before you do it. I’ve never played with a better cat, man.
(W)e didn't get together and say, Let's make a disco song. It was a rhythm that was popular and so we made a song like that.
Disco is just another funk beat. None of us dreamt of making a disco album, but if you can come up with a primo disco track, that would be our input. And Miss You made it.
I don't think anyone resisted it at all, not to my knowledge. Whether they did mentally or not, I don't think anyone can really remember that. If they say they remember, they probably don't. They're probably lying (laughs). I mean, I think Charlie particularly loved it and Bill loved it because he came up with a really nice bass line. So I think that it was instantly accepted, in my view. It was only really different as far as the rhythm section was concerned. The rest of the instrumentation is very much a kind of blues-rock instrumentation. You just play what you would play. It's just the beat that's different. It's a sloppy version of the beat of six months before in New York, and not played quite so exactly as you would have played it if you were playing in a session band doing those kind of tunes for a dance record. It's quite strict tempo, it doesn't move around, but it's got a nice loose feel to it compared to some of those records. It's very danceable and that's what we were trying to achieve there.
There was a sort of SLIGHT element of rap in there the way I kind of delivered it. So obviously I'd been listening a bit to that - to the Sugarhill Gang (note: the Sugarhill Gang released their first single in 1979). 'Cause rap like that wasn't like rap now... When Dr. Dre did a remix of it, of Miss You, I'd forgot about what I'd actually done vocally. Then when I listened to the Dr. Dre remix, I realized I was doing that kind of delivery, that at the time was considered sort of talking.
Miss You is an emotion, it's not really about A girl. To me, the feeling of longing is what the song is - I don't like to interpret my own fucking songs - but that's what it is.
(The part about the Puerto Rican girls): it's true, it's true. I mean that's what happens to you. Anyway, that's an imagined person. I get much more of a buzz or whatever you want to call it this year out of writing songs that are not totally within my experience. I imagine other people's experiences, you must realize that. It's imagination, observation... You combine the two. In the middle of the song I thought wouldn't it be funny if you're in New York and you're missing someone and you get these terrible crass people knocking on your door... I don't know, it's never happened to me. I don't sit around moping. It's fiction, somgwriting is fiction...
I still like things like Miss You. I think that has a directness and feeling.
(T)he amount of thump from Bill and Charlie is quite amazing.
Sugar Blue played harmonica on Miss You and Some Girls. He was somebody that Mick or Keith found playing on the street. The thing that blew my mind was what that guy could do, because I play a little harmonica. I know how to suck and bend, blow and bend like Jimmy Reed, but if you gave a harmonica to Sugar Blue, he could play in C, C sharp, C flat, B, A and F, all on the one harmonica. The way he bent it was unreal.
(T)hat’s not me playing the harp for once. It’s like the only time I haven’t played it. It’s this guy Sugar Blue from Detroit, who played in the subway in Paris. He added that part, which I thought was really beautifully played. He plays on a couple of the bonus tracks, too. I think it’s weird because there’s the rest of this modern groove, or modern for the time, but you’ve got this kind of ’50’s harp on top of it, which is kind of weird, but it all hanged together.
Although Miss You was a damn good disco record, it was calculated to be one.
Miss You really caught the moment, because that was the deal at the time. And that's what made that record take off.
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