You Can't Always Get  What You Want

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: February-March 1969        Recording location: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
Producer: Jimmy Miller        Chief engineer: Glyn Johns
Performed onstage: 1968, 1972-73, 1975-76, 1981-82, 1989-90, 1995, 1997-98, 2002-03, 2005-07, 2012-14

Line-up:

Drums: Jimmy Miller
Bass: Bill Wyman
Acoustic guitars: Keith Richards & Mick Jagger
Electric guitar: Keith Richards
Lead vocal: Mick Jagger
Background vocals: Madeline Bell, Nanette Newman, Doris Troy & the London Bach Choir
Piano: Al Kooper
Organ: Al Kooper
French horn: Al Kooper
Maracas: Rocky Dijon
Congas: Rocky Dijon
Tambourine: Rocky Dijon
 

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in your hand
I knew she would meet her connection
At her feet was a footloose man

Now you can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
And if you try sometime, you'll find
You get what you need

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was going to meet her connection
At her feet was a footloose man

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well you might find
You'll get what you need

Ah baby, yeah
Oh

And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing We're going to vent our frustration
If we don't, we're going to blow a 50 amp fuse
 
Sing it to me

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well you just might find
You'll get what you need

Ah baby, yeah
Ah
 
I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And, man, did he look pretty ill

We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor was cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yes, and he said one word to me and that was dead

I said to him

You can't always get what you want, no
You can't always get what you want, yeah
You can't always get what you want, no
But if you try sometimes, you just might find
You get what you need

Oh yeah

 
You get what you need

Yeah
Ah baby, ah yeah
 
I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands

You can't always get what you want, yes
You can't always get what you want, ooh yeah
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you just might find
You get what you need

Ah yeah, ah baby

Ah you can't always get what you want, no, no, baby
You can't always get what you want, tell me now
You can't always get what you want
If you try sometimes, you just might find, you just might find
You get what you need

Ah yeah, ah (...)
 
 
 
TrackTalk

You Can't Always Get What You Want was basically all Mick. I remember him coming into the studio and saying, I've got this song. I said, you got any verses? And he said, I have, but how is it going to sound? Because he'd written it on guitar, it was like a folk song at the time. I had to come up with a rhythm, an idea...
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)


You Can't Always Get What You Want
was something I just played on the acoustic guitar - one of those bedroom songs. It proved to be quite difficult to record because Charlie couldn't play the groove and so Jimmy Miller had to play the drums. I'd also had this idea of having a choir, probably a gospel choir, on the track, but there wasn't one around at that point. Jack Nitzsche, or somebody, said that we could get the London Bach Choir and we said, That will be a laugh.
- Mick Jagger, 2003


Jimmy Miller sat down at the drums and remained there playing on the take. Charlie was not happy but was graceful about it. Mick and Keith played acoustic guitars, I played piano, Bill was on bass and Brian lay on his stomach in the corner reading an article on botany throughout the proceedings. I then overdubbed the organ.
- Al Kooper


Jimmy Miller played drums on a couple of tracks on Let It Bleed, including You Can't Always Get What You Want, which I subsequently copied. That's how good Jimmy was at hearing songs. He wasn't a great drummer, but he was great at playing drums on records, which is a completely different thing. You Can't Always Get What You Want is a great drum track. Jimmy actually made me stop and think again about the way I played drums in the studio and I became a much better drummer in the studio thanks to him.
- Charlie Watts, 2003


I liked the way the Beatles did that with Hey Jude. The orchestra was not just to cover everything up - it was something extra. We may do something like that on the next album.
- Mick Jagger, March 1969


It's a good song, even if I say so myself. (It's popular bec)ause it's got a very sing-along chorus. And people can identify with it: No one gets what they always want. It's got a very good melody. It's got very good orchestral touches that Jack Nitzsche helped with. So it's got all the ingredients.
- Mick Jagger, 1995


(Mick is told that before he used to sing "I can't get no satisfaction", and that now he sings "You can't always get what you want".) Now YOU also can't get what YOU want. The same goes for me. I'm saying the same thing as when I said, I can't get no satisfaction, only articulated differently. It's all a question of personal orientation. As one gets older and has read more, as one knows more, one is hit with a variety of influences, one naturally writes different texts.
- Mick Jagger, c. 1969


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