The Rolling Stones’ 40 best songs

An all-star cast pick the greatest cuts from Jagger, Richards and co

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34 START ME UP
Single from Tattoo You album, 1981

BOB HARRIS: It’s such a great record and I have a sentimental attachment to it because it was the first record I ever played on Radio 2. I thought, “We’ll set the stall out with this one.” It was symbolic, with that great riff to set us up and say, “Right, we’re in business.”

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33 WAITING ON A FRIEND
Single from Tattoo You album, 1981

JOE PERNICE: For completely nostalgic reasons. It was one of the first songs I ever learnt to play in a medley, along with Roddy Frame’s version of “Jump”. The chords, at least to my ears, are alarmingly similar.
SCOTT KANNBERG: It’s just a great confessional song that the Stones are pretty good at doing, I just love it. It’s got a weird sound to it. The video is one of my favourite videos of all time; it’s like they stand out in the yard looking really weird and wasted. The song is intimate and honest. I don’t really remember it as a kid. I discovered the Stones when I was 18 or 20 years old, and started to listen to all their records. I got into all their important records, and it was a song that really got to me. It’s also massively underrated and it’s easy to forget how many great songs they’ve written.
IAN ASTBURY: It captures being in a band and the intense friendships within that. This song lets you into their world.
NICK JOHNSTONE: Both the song and the great accompanying video capture that
laid-back Stones vibe perfectly. The melancholic lyric, the impossibly cool music, the camaraderie in the video: it’s the ultimate document of the classic Stones line-up, in particular the bond between Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. There are plenty of Stones fans who swear by the Brian Jones era, a minority who favour the Mick Taylor era – but, for me, the Richards-Wood double act is what The Rolling Stones are all about. It’s a great song about friendship between men. And over the years, I’ve often turned to it in times of crisis as a friend in itself.
ED HAMELL: In the end, this is what it all comes down to.

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32 SOUL SURVIVOR
Exile On Main Street album track, 1972

JOHNNY MARR: By the time I got into Exile On Main Street, I’d already decided the Stones were the greatest band there’d ever been. It took me a few listens because of all the brass, but when I started getting into it from a groove and rhythm guitar point of view, I understood what they were doing. It’s another archetypal Keith riff, and I just love the R&B aspects of it.

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