|Single by The Rolling Stones|
|from the album Beggars Banquet|
|A-side||"Street Fighting Man"|
|Songwriter(s)||Mick Jagger/Keith Richards|
"No Expectations" is a song by English rock and roll band the Rolling Stones featured on their 1968 album Beggars Banquet. It was first released as the B-side of the "Street Fighting Man" single in August 1968. The song was recorded in May 1968. Brian Jones' acoustic slide guitar on the recording represents one of his last major contributions before leaving the band.
Inspiration and recording
This slow ballad was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Bill Janovitz says, "The loneliness expressed in the song is palpable; all about being left behind, the song is certainly a tribute in musical and lyrical tone to such Robert Johnson blues songs as "Love in Vain"-a favourite cover of the Stones-referencing such images as a train leaving the station."
Jagger said in a 1995 interview in Rolling Stone, "That's Brian playing [the slide guitar]. We were sitting around in a circle on the floor, singing and playing, recording with open mikes. That was the last time I remember Brian really being totally involved in something that was really worth doing". Accompanying Jones is Richards on acoustic rhythm guitar. Janovitz remarked that Richards, "play[s] the same open-tuned rhythm he would later use on 'You Can't Always Get What You Want', also contributing to that lonely ambience." The song is also noted for its simple claves-kept beat by Charlie Watts and Nicky Hopkins's "building single-chord organ" and ornamental turns on piano.
- Mick Jagger — lead vocals
- Brian Jones — acoustic slide guitar
- Keith Richards — acoustic guitar
- Bill Wyman — bass guitar
- Charlie Watts — claves
- Nicky Hopkins — piano, Farfisa organ
The song's first live performance was filmed for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which documents Jones' last live performance with the band. The band has since rarely played the song live. The second, and most notable performance, was at the Hyde Park free concert on 5 July 1969, which was held as a memorial to Jones, who died two days before. The third live performance was at the 18 January 1973, benefit concert at the Los Angeles Forum for victims of the 23 December 1972, earthquake in Nicaragua. The Stones would not play it live again until 28 August 1994, in Cleveland, Ohio. On the 2002/03 "Licks" tour, they played it 11 times in total, and most recently they played it on their 50th anniversary tour in San Jose, California, on 8 May 2013, with Ronnie Wood playing the slide guitar. Former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, who replaced Jones, has also covered the song during his concerts, including his 2012 performances at New York City's Iridium Jazz Club.
Several covers of "No Expectations" have been released. Johnny Cash recorded a bluegrass-inspired version, available on his album Gone Girl and the collection Essential Johnny Cash 1953-83. John Hartford performed another bluegrass cover on Gum Tree Canoe. Waylon Jennings recorded a version for his 1998 album Closing in on the Fire. Soulsavers recorded a piano version accompanied with Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan on their album It's Not How Far You Fall, It's The Way You Land. Joan Baez also performed a cover on her 1970 album One Day at a Time. Will Dailey and Jesse Dee performed the song live on WERS 88.9 in 2012 and the performance later made it onto the compilation "WERS Music For The Independent Mind Volume 7".
Beck also started playing this song in his concerts just after the release of Sea Change. During his first tour after going on hiatus from the Black Crowes in 2002, singer Chris Robinson played the song as an acoustic duo with Paul Stacey. Jam bands Yonder Mountain String Band and Flatlander also often cover this song at their shows.