German picture sleeve
|Single by Rod Stewart|
|from the album Every Picture Tells a Story|
|A-side||"Reason to Believe"|
|Length||5:50 (Album version W/ Henry Intro)|
3:43 (Single version)
|Songwriter(s)||Rod Stewart, Martin Quittenton|
|Rod Stewart singles chronology|
"Maggie May" expresses the ambivalence and contradictory emotions of a boy involved in a relationship with an older woman and was written from Stewart's own experience. In the January 2007 issue of Q magazine, Stewart recalled: "Maggie May was more or less a true story, about the first woman I had sex with, at the 1961 Beaulieu Jazz Festival." The woman's name was not "Maggie May"; Stewart has stated that the name was taken from "an old Liverpudlian song about a prostitute."
The song was recorded in just two takes in one session. Drummer Micky Waller often arrived at recording sessions with the expectation that a drum kit would be provided and, for "Maggie May", it was – except that no cymbals could be found. The cymbal crashes had to be overdubbed separately some days later.
The song was released as the B-side of the single "Reason to Believe", but soon radio stations began playing the B-side and "Maggie May" became the more popular side. The song was Stewart's first substantial hit as a solo performer and launched his solo career. It remains one of his best-known songs. A 1971 performance of the song on Top of the Pops saw the Faces joined onstage by DJ John Peel, who pretended to play the mandolin. The mandolin player on the actual recording was Ray Jackson of Lindisfarne.
The album version of "Maggie May" incorporates a 30-second solo guitar intro, "Henry", composed by Martin Quittenton.
The original recording has appeared on almost all of Rod Stewart's compilations, and even appeared on the Ronnie Wood retrospective Ronnie Wood Anthology: The Essential Crossexion. A version by the Faces recorded for BBC Radio appeared on the four-disc box set Five Guys Walk into a Bar.... A live version recorded in 1993 by Stewart joined by Wood for a session of MTV Unplugged is included on the album Unplugged...and Seated.
In October 1971, the song went to number one in the UK Singles Chart (for five weeks), and simultaneously topped the charts in Australia (four weeks), Canada (one week), and the United States (six weeks). Every Picture Tells a Story achieved the same status at the same time.[clarification needed] It was the No. 2 record for 1971 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles charts.
The song re-entered the UK chart in December 1976, but only reached number 31.
At first, I didn't think much of "Maggie May." I guess that's because the record company didn't believe in the song. I didn't have much confidence then. I figured it was best to listen to the guys who knew better. What I learned is sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.— Rod Stewart, 2015
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Gold||10,000*|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||400,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||1,000,000^|
* Sales figures based on certification alone.
- Rod Stewart – lead vocals
- Ronnie Wood – electric guitar, twelve-string guitar, bass guitar
- Martin Quittenton – acoustic guitar
- Micky Waller – drums, cymbals
- Ian McLagan – Hammond organ
- Ray Jackson – mandolin (listed on the album as "The mandolin was played by the mandolin player in Lindisfarne. The name slips my mind.")
- Pete Sears – celesta
The Pogues recorded a version during the sessions for If I Should Fall from Grace with God in 1987. The song remained unreleased until 2008, when it appeared on Just Look Them Straight In The Eye And Say... Poguemahone!! - The Pogues Box Set
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