How Can I Stop

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: March-July 1997
Recording location: Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Producers: Don Was & The Glimmer Twins       Chief engineer: Rob Fraboni
Mixer: Rob Fraboni         Performed onstage: 1998


Drums: Charlie Watts
Acoustic bass: Jeff Sarli
Electric guitars: Keith Richards, Ron Wood & Waddy Wachtel
Lead vocals: Keith Richards
Background vocals: Bernard Fowler & Blondie Chaplin
Piano: Blondie Chaplin
Wurlitzer piano: Don Was
Saxophone: Wayne Shorter
Percussion: Jim Keltner


(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh, ooh ooh)

(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, ooh oooh)

You offer me all your love and sympathy
Sweet affection, baby, it's killing me

(Ah ah-ah-ah, ah ah-ah-ah)

Cause baby, baby, can't you see?

How could I stop once I start, baby?
(How could I stop?)  How could I stop once I start?

(How could I stop?)

Yeah, yeah, how could I stop once I start?

You look at me but I don't know what you see
A reflection, baby, of what I want to be
I see your face and I want to roll with it

(Ah ah-ah-ah, ah ah-ah-ah)

But how could I stop? Baby, how could I stop?
(How could I stop?)  Stop it, stop it

If I could, I'd take it all the way
Baby, baby, listen to what I say

(Ah ah-ah-ah, ah ah-ah-ah)  Mm mm-mm-mm
There's even some things that I just will not pay

Cause how could I stop if I start, baby?
(How could I stop?)  How could I stop if I start, start with you?
(How could I stop?)  If I start - baby
(How could I stop?)  How could I stop if I start with you, baby?


(Ah ah ahh)

It's too easy to lay here at your feet
But I couldn't take the heat    (Oooh)
There's somewhere else maybe you should go
Baby, maybe, baby, just further down the road

How could I stop if I start with you, baby?
(How could I stop?)  How could I stop once I start?
(How could I stop?)  You tell me, baby, once I've started with you
How could I stop once I start? Yeah...

(How could I stop?)  Stop, stop, stop it - mm
(Ah ah-ah-ah, ah ah-ah-ah)  Ooh ooh-ooh-ooh

(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh, ooh ooh)  How could I stop?
(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, ooh oooh)

(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh, ooh ooh)

How could I stop?
How could I stop?
How could I stop?



This was the last thing recorded for the album. There was a car waiting for Charlie outside the studio and it took him to the airport immediately after we finished that take. Charlie did this really intense flourish with Wayne (Shorter) at the end that was almost like his farewell to the record. Then he got up and left and went back to England. It was maybe 5:30 in the morning and it was a really poignant moment that got captured. As for the song itself, it's the most radical thing on the album. Keith really wrote a sophisticated piece of music.
- Don Was, 1997

We were in Ocean Way studios, in Los Angeles. Don Was was producer and he's on keyboard. He put a lot of hints and helps in on it.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)

(O)n this record there was no question: it had to be the last song. And Charlie WOULDN'T stop. It was the last song we recorded in L.A., and we got Wayne Shorter in to play over the ending.
- Keith Richards, September 1997

Well it's cut just like old soul records, you know. It's sort of Chi-lites and Stylistics and that whole thing. The way you make those kind of songs that sound right is about the band being very suppressed but a lot of energy inside it. It's almost as if something is about to burst, which it does at the end, you know, and that was another Charlie Watts feature (laughs).
- Keith Richards, 1997

I wouldn't have been able to write songs like that 10, 15 years ago. I wouldn't have been able to put it over with the right attitude. I guess a lot of the earlier stuff is just a hard shell: Before They Make Me Run, and so on.
- Keith Richards, September 1997

And (Keith) always does that very poignant How can I stop? thing. Fantastic.
- Charlie Watts, 1997

Playing with Keith one night dramatically altered my life... We were playing How Can I Stop, repeating the final four chords over and over like a mantra. I knew there was this ideal in music where you lose all self-consciousness and play in the moment, but I'd never experienced it. I was playing a Wurlitzer piano; Keith was playing an electric guitar on the other side of the room. It was a musical conversation, utterly effortless, like transcendental meditation. I said to myself, This is what I've been searching for. I've just never played with a master musician before. After we finished I went into the control room and asked them to play some of it back, imagining it was about five minutes. The engineers said, Which reel? - we'd been playing for over an hour.
- Don Was, 2003, in According to the Rolling Stones

Bridges to Babylon is another album that has one of my time bombs tucked on the end: How Can I Stop, which I will let re-surface in due course. It's got Wayne Shorter playing on it, for Christ's sake. Some jazz musicicians look upon what I do as dudey music, and I'll say to them, That's up to you, guys, because I really hate jazz snobbery: Excuse me, if you play music, you want people to listen to it, right? There's no point playing into a vacuum.
- Keith Richards, 2003

What I didn't know was that I'd get the last two slots (on the album). I guess it was Don's idea to segue straight from Thief in the Night into How Can I Stop. I thought, Wow, that's bold, but I like it!
- Keith Richards, September 1997

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