No Expectations

"No Expectations" is a song by English rock band the Rolling Stones featured on their 1968 album Beggars Banquet. It was first released as the B-side of the "Street Fighting Man" single in August 1968. The song was recorded in May 1968. Brian Jones' acoustic slide guitar on the recording represents one of his last major contributions before leaving the band.

"No Expectations"
Single by the Rolling Stones
from the album Beggars Banquet
A-side"Street Fighting Man"
  • August 1968 (1968-08) (US single)
  • December 1968 (album)
RecordedMay 1968
Songwriter(s)Mick Jagger/Keith Richards
Producer(s)Jimmy Miller
The Rolling Stones US singles chronology
"Jumpin' Jack Flash"
"No Expectations"
"Honky Tonk Women"

Inspiration and recordingEdit

This slow ballad was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Bill Janovitz says, "The loneliness expressed in the song is palpable; all about being left behind, the song is certainly a tribute in musical and lyrical tone to such Robert Johnson blues songs as "Love in Vain" – a favourite cover of the Stones – referencing such images as a train leaving the station."[1]

Jagger said in a 1995 interview in Rolling Stone, "That's Brian playing [the slide guitar]. We were sitting around in a circle on the floor, singing and playing, recording with open mikes. That was the last time I remember Brian really being totally involved in something that was really worth doing".[2] Accompanying Jones is Richards on acoustic rhythm guitar. Janovitz remarked that Richards, "play[s] the same open-tuned rhythm he would later use on 'You Can't Always Get What You Want', also contributing to that lonely ambience." The song is also noted for its simple claves-kept beat by Charlie Watts and Nicky Hopkins's "building single-chord organ" and ornamental turns on piano.


Critical receptionEdit

Jim Beviglia ranked "No Expectations" the 51st best Rolling Stones song in Counting Down the Rolling Stones: Their 100 Finest Songs.[3] praised its "mystical, evocative lyrics" and ranked it 25th in its Top 50 Rolling Stones songs.[4] Rolling Stone ranked it 39th in its countdown of the band's top 100 songs, calling it "an early, vital result of the Stones turning to rock's deeper roots."[5]


The song's first live performance was filmed for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which documents Jones' last live performance with the band. The band has since rarely played the song live. The second, and most notable performance, was at the Hyde Park free concert on 5 July 1969, which was held as a memorial to Jones, who died two days before. The third live performance was at the 18 January 1973, benefit concert at the Los Angeles Forum for victims of the 23 December 1972, earthquake in Nicaragua.

The Stones did not play it live again until 28 August 1994, in Cleveland, Ohio. On the 2002/03 "Licks" tour, they played it 11 times in total, and most recently they played it on their 50th anniversary tour in San Jose, California, on 8 May 2013, with Ronnie Wood playing the slide guitar. Former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, who replaced Jones, has also covered the song during his concerts, including his 2012 performances at New York City's Iridium Jazz Club. "No Expectations" is also included on the 1972 Stones compilation album More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies). The single version is available on Singles Collection: The London Years.

Cover versionsEdit

American progressive bluegrass band Yonder Mountain String Band frequently covered the song. After the death of founding Yonder Mountain member Jeff Austin in 2019, their version of the song would come to be viewed as a tribute and memorial to him. Fellow progressive bluegrass band Greensky Bluegrass added it to their repertoire after Austin's death.[6]


  1. ^ Janovitz, Bill. "Rolling Stones: No Expectations – review". Retrieved 29 June 2007.
  2. ^ Wenner, Jann."Jagger Remembers" Archived 2007-07-14 at the Wayback Machine. Rolling Stone. 1995 (accessed 29 June 2007).
  3. ^ Beviglia, Jim (2015). Counting Down the Rolling Stones: Their 100 Finest Songs. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 89. ISBN 978-1442254473.
  4. ^ "The 50 Best Rolling Stones Songs". July 10, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  5. ^ "100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs - No Expectations (1968)". Rolling Stone. October 5, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  6. ^ "Greensky Bluegrass Dedicates 'No Expectations' To Jeff Austin". JamBase. Retrieved 2021-04-30.

External linksEdit