"Memory Motel" is a ballad song from rock band The Rolling Stones' 1976 album Black and Blue. The song is credited to singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards (named Richard at the time). It is one of the few which feature both members sharing lead vocals. The song itself is over seven minutes long, one of the longest songs by the Rolling Stones.
|Song by The Rolling Stones|
|from the album Black and Blue|
|Released||23 April 1976|
|Recorded||March - April, October - December 1975|
|Producer(s)||The Glimmer Twins|
|Black and Blue track listing|
Jagger began writing the song before beginning the Stones' Tour of the Americas '75 while staying with Richards at Andy Warhol's house in Montauk, New York and finished it while on tour. This is reflected in the song's lyrics where Jagger describes having to leave for Baton Rouge, where the Stones played two warm up shows at Louisiana State University, and where he describes subsequent experiences on the road.
The title comes from an actual motel in Montauk, on Long Island. The lyrics to the song have long drawn speculation as to who the "Hannah baby" in the lyrics refer to. Carly Simon is often a name considered, due to Jagger's descriptions of the woman throughout the song; 'Hannah' was in reference to Annie Leibovitz, who was the Rolling Stones 1975 Tour of the Americas photographer. She spent time with the band during their rehearsals at Andy Warhol's complex near Montauk. Jagger describes her thus:
Hannah honey was a peachy kind of girl; Her eyes were hazel, And her nose was slightly curved....
Her eyes were hazel, And her teeth were slightly curved; She took my guitar and she began to play, She sang a song to me, Stuck right in my brain... When I asked her where she headed for, "Back up to Boston, I’m singing in a bar"
The lyrics talk of the fading love brought on by a one-night stand at said motel. The song describes the female subject as a strong, independent woman, comparable in many ways to the female subject of "Ruby Tuesday", with Richards repeated refrain:
She got a mind of her own, And she use it well...
Richards did not play guitar on this piece; Black and Blue has long been known as the album used to find a replacement for Mick Taylor, who left right before work was to begin on it. Harvey Mandel plays electric guitar while Wayne Perkins performs acoustic. Jagger, Richards, and Billy Preston play acoustic piano, electric piano, and string synthesizer on the song, respectively. Preston also contributes backing vocals along with Ron Wood, who would eventually become the Stones' lead guitarist. The song was recorded in Munich, Germany at Musicland Studios in March and April 1975. Overdubs and re-recordings were performed later in the year.
"Memory Motel" has long been a fan favourite from the Stones' canon of work. It is often overlooked, possibly due to its length and downbeat feel, much like the album it comes from. It was one of the highlights of the Stones' 1998 live album No Security, where Dave Matthews took up lead vocals with Jagger and Richards. The song has been played live on every tour since the 1994 Voodoo Lounge Tour.