*5.07-WE LOVE YOU (Rolling Stones)

Rolling Stones



We don't care if you only love we.
We don't care if you only love we…

        We love you.
        We love you,
        And we hope that you
        Will love we too.

        We love they.
        We love they,
        And we want you
        To love they too.


                We don't care if you hound we
                And love is all around we
                Love can't get our minds off

        We love you.
        We love you.

                You will never win we
                Your uniforms don't fit we
                We forget the place we're in

        'Cause we love you.
        We love you.
        Of course, we do.

        I love you.
        I love you
        And I hope that you
        Won't prove wrong too.

        We love you. We do.
        We love you. We do.


During a visit to Morocco in March 1967, Brian Jones had developed an interest in Moroccan music, which carried some of the same droning and trance effect that psychedelic musicians had previously found in Indian sitar music. The sounds were applied to We Love You recorded in June 1967, shortly after the arrest of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger for possession of amphetamines and use of marijuana. It has been frequently reported that Jagger wrote the song while in jail. An allusion is made at the beginning of the song to his jailing in the musique concrete sound of slamming jail cell doors. The intention of the song is to express his appreciation to supportive fans and friends who were fighting for his release and to express defiance against suppression by the authorities. As a musical premise for a lyric, it was unique at the time, for unlike the hip hop era, popular songs written from jail or about jail were rare in the 1960s. The lyric is also a thematic improvisation on the recently recorded Beatle’s song All You Need is Love. Indeed, it is widely reported that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Allen Ginsberg joined in the recording of We Love You, returning the favor for Jagger’s participation in the All You Need is Love recording. Jagger doesn’t exhibit the same ability at wordplay as Lennon did, but he exhibits a similar impulse of playing with language as his invented patois juggles personal pronouns like Lennon had balanced double negatives.

The song represents a leap in the development of the Rolling Stones in the production of a psychedelic record. Previously, their psychedelic music had been by recasting Elizabethan madrigals (like Lady Jane or Ruby Tuesday) or following a folk pattern with an exotic instrument (the sitar in Paint It Black or the pipe organ of She Smiled Sweetly). In my estimation, Paint It Black was the Rolling Stone's Norwegian Wood; We Love You is the Stone's Rain. Like Rain, it wasn't nearly as popular as the A side of the single. Granted it's more than a year later than the Beatles, but this does little in my eyes to detract from the achievement of arriving at an original sound through Jones' use of the mellotron doing Arabic scales and tape-delayed vocal effects across a basic piano rock and roll riff. Though Arabic scales had been alluded to by Grace Slick’s voice in the Jefferson Airplane (She Has Funny Cars) and the organ playing of Ray Manzarek of the Doors (When the Music's Over), they hadn't been used throughout an entire song until Brian Jones’ improvisations in We Love You. It was a good risk to take. By the time of its release in September, the sitar sound was waning in popularity and there was a need for another exotic kind of music for psychedelic trance. The mellotron technique that the Rolling Stones used was ominous and huge, like the monstrous political machine that had imprisoned Jagger. (The Stones’ gigantic mellotron sound reminds me of the dystopic universe created in King Crimson’s 1969 album Court of the Crimson King.) In the coda of We Love You can be heard grunting sounds and an apparent physical struggle against the power of evil with a chant of love.

[Paul Simon's Restless Journey by Nicholas Dawidoff, Rolling Stone (May 12, 2011)]: Paul McCartney said: "The same rules of poetry apply to a songwriter. Economy, phrase, rhythm. Allen Ginsberg always wanted you to say, 'Is this a song or a poem?' If it was a song, he'd leave you alone. If it was a poem, he'd knock it to pieces." I wonder what Ginsberg thought of We Love You. The subject and object inversion of pronouns doesn't seem to add to the meaning of the text, but rather be an example of "covering one's ass" for fear of censorship, certainly a fear that was real for the Rolling Stones. It has a criminal tone of trying to communicate with the tribe without being held responsible for the content of the communication by the authorities. It doesn't help that at times the lyric is inaudible: I have always heard the line reported here as Love can't get our minds off as Nothing on our minds but, and have heard "they" as "faith", assuming that Mick Jagger's girlfriend at the time, Marianne Faithfull, was showing up in the song as well as the Beatles. The couple of lines And I hope that you / Won't prove wrong too are incomprehensible to me. I always heard them as And I hope that you / Will have faith too. Because the weight of meaning for the song is borne upon the couplet, I feel the need to at least venture an explanation. Perhaps Jagger is expressing the hope that his loyal fans and friends will never have to suffer what he went through in jail; that their actions won't be judged to be "wrong" by society.