The average fan of the Stones is liable not to recognize a multitude of gems that the band released throughout the fifty-some odd years that they have been recording music, and I have to say that is more than a shame. My bias in this regard would allow me at this point to ramble on and on about a few underrated Stones songs that come to mind, but one tune, “You Got the Silver” off of the Let it Bleed album, needs to be properly represented.
“You Got the Silver” should be a very important song in any aspiring rock and roll scholar’s repertoire for a number of reasons, but I should start by saying that this is the first time Keith Richards had lead vocals on a Stones song. So no, while “Happy” is a fucking masterpiece, Keith had already stretched his leading cigarette lungs on this song before any other. And due to some prior research, I have discovered that this was the last song that the infamous Brian Jones played on before his life was cut short by a pissed off former employee. But with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, two supposed mortals still living in the rock pantheon, the conversation is hardly ever about Jones, so I will not taint Richards’ legendary song with talks of a drug-induced murder conspiracy.
As an avid reader of classic literature while in his adolescent years, Richards evolved into the musical and bohemian mastermind behind the Stones’ biggest albums. As with any masterpiece, there are many critics and fans who will point to a number of different songs on here as the best embodiment of the band at their best, and personally, in spite of the recent popularity of “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” I am apt to call “Midnight Rambler the best album on the disc. However, “You Got the Silver” is what ties the whole thing together, and without it this album falls into that category of what if.
The song opens with an acoustic glide, as Richards in his one of a kind voice mumbles out some rhetoric questions for his love interest. The guitar accompanies the melody in splendid fashion, quieting down just enough so that Richards love poem is audible. What has made this song a permanent fixture in the Stones catalog (and as any serious Stones fan will tell you, there are many) is that that same acoustic melody changes tempo as the time progresses, a trick that Mick Jagger and his ragged boys seem to excel at.
Despite my earlier quip about Jones, I do believe that he brought something unique to the band, and the group that finds themselves on the Let it Bleed album seems like an all star team in journalistic retrospect, with Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Mick Taylor to accompany Richards and Jagger, and oh, let’s not forget, Jones.