Saturday, September 16, 2017
The famous day when Andrew locked us in a kitchen up in Willesden and said, "Come out with a song" - that did happen. Why Andrew put Mick and me together as songwriters and not Mick and Brian, or me and Brian, I don't know. It turned out that Brian couldn't write songs, but Andrew didn't know that then. I guess it's because Mick and I were hanging out together at the time. Andrew puts it this way: "I worked on the assumption that if Mick could write postcards to Chrissie Shrimpton, and Keith could play a guitar, then they could write songs." We spent the whole night in that goddamn kitchen, and I mean, we're the Rolling Stones, like the blues kings, and we've got some food, piss out the window or down the sink, it's no big deal. And I said, "If we want to get out of here, Mick, we better come up with something."
We sat there in the kitchen and I started to pick away at these chords ..."It is the evening of the day." I might have written that. "I sit and watch the children play," I certainly wouldn't have come up with that. We had two lines and an interesting chord sequence, and then something else took over somewhere in this process. I don't want to say mystical, but you can't put your finger on it. Once you've got that idea, the rest will come. It's like you've planted a seed, then you water it a bit and suddenly it sticks up out of the ground and goes, hey, look at me. The mood is made somewhere in the song. Regret, lost love. Maybe one of us had just busted up with a girlfriend. If you can find the trigger that kicks off the idea, the rest is easy. It's just hitting the first spark. Where that comes from, God knows.
With "As Tears Go By," we weren't trying to write a commercial pop song. It was just what came out. I knew what Andrew wanted: don't come out with a blues, don't do some parody or copy, come out with something of your own. A good pop song is not really that easy to write. It was a shock, this fresh world of writing our own material, this discovery that I had a gift I had no idea existed. It was Blake-like, a revelation, an epiphany.
-Keith Richards, Life