Moonlight Mile (song)

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"Moonlight Mile"
Song by the Rolling Stones
from the album Sticky Fingers
Released23 April 1971 (1971-04-23)
RecordedOctober 1970
LabelRolling Stones/Virgin
Producer(s)Jimmy Miller

"Moonlight Mile" is a song by the Rolling Stones. It appears as the closing track on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers.

Recording and composition[edit]

"Moonlight Mile" was the last song recorded for Sticky Fingers. Recording took place during the end of October 1970 at Stargroves. The song was the product of an all-night session between Jagger and guitarist Mick Taylor. Taylor had taken a short guitar piece recorded by Richards (entitled "Japanese Thing") and reworked it for the session. Jagger performs the song's prominent acoustic guitar riff. Jagger felt it easier to extemporize with Taylor, as Richards was not present. It was Taylor's idea to add a string arrangement by Paul Buckmaster to the song. Jim Price—the Rolling Stones' usual trumpeter—plays piano. Taylor claims he was promised some songwriting credit, but found himself surprised that he did not when the song was released on Sticky Fingers.[1][2][3][4] Richards and Jagger took credit for the song.

"Moonlight Mile was all Mick's. As far as I can remember, Mick came in with the whole idea of that, and the band just figured out how to play it.[5] - Keith Richards, Life magazine

The lyrics are elliptical and mysterious, but touch on the alienation of life on the road:

The sound of strangers sending nothing to my mind
Just another mad mad day on the road
I am just living to be lying by your side
But I'm just about a moonlight mile on down the road


Many consider "Moonlight Mile" one of the Rolling Stones' most underappreciated ballads.[6] In a review of the song, Bill Janovitz says, "Though the song still referenced drugs and the road life of a pop-music celebrity, it really is a rare example of Jagger letting go of his public persona, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the weariness that accompanies the pressures of keeping up appearances as a sex-drugs-and-rock & roll star."[6]

Rock critic Robert Christgau said the song, "re-created all the paradoxical distances inherent in erotic love with a power worthy of Yeats, yet could also be interpreted as a cocaine song."[7] This is a reference to the first stanza, which includes, "When the wind blows and the rain feels cold, With a head full of snow". It was meant to be about coming down from a cocaine high. However, Mick Jagger later dismissed any suggestions of the song being an allegory for drug use, and stated "The feeling [he] had at that moment was how difficult it was to be touring and how [he] wasn’t looking forward to going out and doing it again. It’s a very lonely thing, and [his] lyrics reflected that".[8]



  1. ^ "Interview: Former Rolling Stones Guitarist Mick Taylor Discusses Gear, Bluesbreakers, Iridium and The Stones". Guitar World. Archived from the original on 2014-11-30. But as far as the ones I played on, I like 'Sway' – and 'Moonlight Mile' because I sort of had a hand in co-writing that, in a way. Or at least I wrote the riff the string part is based on.
  2. ^ "Moonlight Mile track talk". That's where Moonlight Mile came from. But Mick first sang it to me in a first-class railway compartment on the way from London to Bristol. Then he had the idea of embellishing it with strings. I contributed the riff that Paul Buckmaster's strings are based on - that ethereal, unresolved ending. (2011)
  3. ^ "The Rolling Stone who's stony broke: Why Mick Taylor lives in a rundown Suffolk semi with a shabby car". And one of the things I got angry about was that Mick had promised to give me some credit for some of the songs – and he didn’t. (...) ‘I believed I’d contributed enough. Let’s put it this way – without my contribution those songs would not have existed. There’s not many but enough, things like 'Sway' and 'Moonlight Mile' on Sticky Fingers and a couple of others.
  4. ^ "Interview With Mick Taylor". Classic Bands. It's not rubbish to say that I was a bit peeved about not getting credit for a couple of songs...
  5. ^ Time is on our side (19 March 2000). "Moonlight Mile". reviews of "Moonlight Mile"; quote from Life Magazine. Rolling Stones Mobile Unit, Mick Jagger's home, Newbury, England & Olympic Sound Studios, London. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  6. ^ a b Janovitz, Bill. "Moonlight Mile". allmusic. Retrieved 2006-06-28.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Rolling Stones". Rolling Stone. 2007 (accessed 28 June 2007).
  8. ^ Myers, Marc (May 28, 2015). "Mick Jagger and 'Moonlight Mile'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 24, 2016. (subscription required)