Someone distract the legislature! The Memphis Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will perform "A Symphony for the Devil: The Music of the Rolling Stones with Satisfaction" on Saturday, May 17th, at the Cannon Center. The gig features the MSO and a puzzlingly not local band playing through the Jagger and Richards songbook. While "Satisfaction" is the archetypal Stones tune, there is plenty of music over which to draw a bow.
There was a time in the 1960s when the escalation of weapons systems was in ascendancy. I'm not talking about nukes. This war was between the Beatles and the Stones. Mick and Keef wrote "As Tears Go By" in 1964, and it was a hit for Marianne Faithfull. When Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" blew the doors off the skiffle/blues temple, the race for full orchestration was on. Jagger and Richards retooled their song and entered into a period of psychedelic experimentation that defined the late 1960s.
The next set of Stones singles explored the orchestra: The brass section from "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing in the Shadows" showcases this expanding palette. "Ruby Tuesday" followed the paisley path to orchestration. Then the boys drank the whole pitcher of Kool-Aid and made Their Satanic Majesties Request. That record, an unsuccessful salvo to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, led to infighting and the departure of producer Andrew Loog Oldham.
The Stones streamlined things with the next set of albums, focusing on acoustic string-band music: more Rev. Gary Davis, less stoner Stravinsky. But Sticky Fingers featured Paul Buckmaster's string arrangements on "Sway" and "Moonlight Mile," arguably two of the better tracks the band ever produced.