My Top 1000 Songs #139: Happy

Not even 15% of the way in, and we're already on our 3rd track from the Stones' '72 classic Exile On Main Street. And while "Tumbling Dice" stands alone as an incredibly accomplished (lyrically & musically) monster of rock & roll myth-making, "Happy" is a more free-spirited party anthem in the vein of "Rocks Off," Keith taking the mic to serve as Yin to Jagger's Yang.

It's more about the music than the words here, that slithery guitar riff (all Keith, who quickly wrote & recorded the song without Mick Taylor) abetted by some buoyant brass. But the few words Keith managed to jot down are all killer no filler. The opening line is a great little Richards summation: "I never kept a dollar past sunset, it always burned a hole in my pants." 

But it's the second verse that's forever etched in my brain as Keith's defining moment. "Always took candy from strangers, didn't wanna get me no trade. Never wanna be like papa, working for the boss every night and day." (Did a young Springsteen hear this and take notes? I'm thinking yep.) This was Keith's moment in the sun, Jagger just hangin' round for the harmonies, and he got it done.

Live in '72: