Rolling Stones Goes 'Woke,' Cancels Hit 'Brown Sugar' amid Push to 'Bury It'
Band hasn't played popular 50-year-old classic song during recent tour
Legendary British rock band The Rolling Stones has apparently gone "woke" and canceled their classic hit "Brown Sugar" amid mounting pressure to "bury" the popular song.
Keith Richards and Mick Jagger announced that they will stop performing the 50-year-old classic over a growing backlash about the song's references to slavery.
The band is currently on the road for a 13-date U.S. tour and has not played Brown Sugar once since kicking off in St Louis on September 26.
The song is one of their most recognizable songs and has featured in the band's live shows for decades.
The 1969 song has been a staple of their concerts since it came out over 50 years ago and is the second most played song in the band's catalog after Jumpin' Jack Flash.
Brown Sugar has been played live during 1,136 known performances, according to Rolling Stone magazine.
The last time the Stones played it live was August 30, 2019, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, according to The Daily Mail.
Jagger, asked about the song's absence from their recent setlists, told The Los Angeles Times they had decided to give the song "a break."
"We've played 'Brown Sugar' every night since 1970, so sometimes you think, 'We'll take that one out for now and see how it goes'," he said.
"We might put it back in."
Keith Richards, who wrote the song with Jagger during a 1969 recording session at the famed Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, said he was taken aback by the recent discomfort about the lyrics since it was always a grotesque story about slavery, rape, and sexual violence.
"I'm trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is," Richards, 77, said.
"Didn't they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery?
"But they're trying to bury it.
"At the moment I don't want to get into conflicts with all of this s***.
"But I'm hoping that we'll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track."
The song has been controversial from the start, and the band has frequently tried to tone down the lyrics.
It was originally titled "Black P****," but Jagger decided before releasing it that the title was too "nitty-gritty."
The original phrasing was: "Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good? / Ah, got me feelin' now for brown sugar, just like a black girl should."
The band in later recordings swapped the words "black girl" for "young girl."
Jagger explained in an interview back in 1995 that he was uncomfortable with the lyrics.
"God knows what I'm on about in that song," said Jagger, in a 1995 interview.
"It's such a mishmash. All the nasty subjects in one go."
The song was written in 45 minutes, and Jagger described it as "a very instant thing."
"I never would write that song now," he said.
"I would probably censor myself. I'd think, 'Oh God, I can't. I've got to stop. I can't just write raw like that.'"
The classic has been a topic of controversy in recent years with Vulture describing the song as "gross, sexist, and stunningly offensive toward black women" in 2015.
Writing in the Chicago Tribune about the hit in 2019, music producer Ian Brennan said: "The issue today is not that they ever wrote the song.
"Nor that they have ever sung it.
"The fault is that they keep singing it."
It has commonly been thought that Brown Sugar was written by Jagger to his former lover Marsha Hunt.
Hunt, who bore Jagger's first child Karis, is an American-born singer who is considered to be the inspiration for the Stones' 1971 classic.
Jagger had an affair with Hunt while he was dating his girlfriend-of-three years Marianne Faithfull.