Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards told the Los Angeles Times that the group had retired the song “Brown Sugar” from its setlist because of controversy surrounding the lyrics that romanticize black slavery, according to the New York Post.
My new @DailyMail column is about the Rolling Stones being bullied into no longer performing Brown Sugar. Posting soon. pic.twitter.com/IaH1wNC1CB
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 13, 2021
“At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this s**t,” Richard said of criticism of the song. “But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track.”
“Brown Sugar” was the second-most played song on their list, last played live in the U.S. at ‘s MiamiHard Rock Stadium in August 2019, said the U.K.’s Times.
The cancellation of the song is a marked departure from the attitude that made the Stones one of the longest working rock bands in history.
Criticized in 1978 for racially charged lyrics in the song “Some Girls,” Stones lead singer Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone magazine: “Atlantic tried to get us to drop it, but I refused. I’ve always been opposed to censorship of any kind, especially by conglomerates. I’ve always said, ‘If you can’t take a joke, it’s too f***ing bad.'”
But so far there is no word that “Some Girls” will also be cancelled by the band.
Guitarist Richards said he doesn’t understand what the fuss is about.
“I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is,” Richards said about “Brown Sugar.”
“Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery?” he continued. “But they’re trying to bury it.”
The song depicts several situations in which black, female slaves are raped or beaten.
Critics have noted the fact that it’s upbeat, danceable tempo stands in stark contrast to the downbeat message that Jagger said the song was supposed to depict.
“I never would write that song now,” Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995 according the New York Post. “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.’”