Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: December 1965 Recording location: RCA Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Producer: Andrew Oldham Engineer: Dave Hassinger
Performed onstage: 1966
Bass: Bill Wyman
Acoustic guitars: Keith Richards & Brian Jones
12-string slide electric guitar: Keith Richards
Vocals: Mick Jagger
Nitzsche-phone: Jack Nitzsche
In those days, Mick and I were into a solid word-music bag unless I thought of something outstanding, which could be used in the title or something. I would spend the first two weeks of the tour, because it was done on the road, all of it was worked out... An American tour meant you started writing another album. After three, four weeks you had enough and then you went to L.A. and recorded it. We worked very fast that way and when you came off a tour you were shit hot playing, as hot as the band is gonna be.
I think I had that song pretty well set up, arrangement-wise, when I brought it into the studio. I had the main riff. It might have been Bill Wyman who came with (the) ending... Mother's Little Helper and Paint It Black are these semi-gypsy melodies. I don't know where they came from. Must be in the blood somewhere.
Mother's Little Helper is a very strange record, like a music hall number, with an electric twelve-string on it, which made it very distinctive.
(The strange guitar sound is) a 12-string with a slide on it. It's played slightly Oriental-ish. The track just needed something to make it twang. Otherwise, the song was quite vaudeville in a way. I wanted to add some nice bite to it. And it was just one of those things where someone walked in and, Look, it's an electric 12-string. It was some gashed-up job. No name on it. God knows where it came from. Or where it went. But I put it together with a bottleneck. Then we had a riff that tied the whole thing together. And I think we overdubbed onto that. Because I played an acoustic guitar as well.
(I get inspiration from t)hings that are happening around me - everyday life as I see it. People say I'm always singing about pills and breakdowns, therefore I must be an addict - this is ridiculous. Some people are so narrow-minded they won't admit to themselves that this really does happen to other people beside pop stars.
We've often tried to perform Mother's Little Helper and it's never been any good, never gelled for some reason - it's either me not playing it right or Keith not wanting to do it like that. It's never worked. It's just one of those songs. We used to try it live but it's a bloody hard record to play, although we did perform it live on Ed Sullivan.
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