Sleep Tonight

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"Sleep Tonight"
Song by The Rolling Stones from the album Dirty Work
Released 24 March 1986
Recorded 1985
Genre Rock
Length 5m:11s
Label Rolling Stones/Virgin
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Steve Lillywhite and The Glimmer Twins
Dirty Work track listing
"Had it With You"
"Sleep Tonight"

"Sleep Tonight" appeared on the Rolling Stones' 1986 album Dirty Work. It is the second song on the ten-track album where lead vocals are performed by Keith Richards, "Too Rude" being the first. This was the first time two songs sung by Richards appeared on a Rolling Stones album; since Dirty Work all their studio albums have included at least two tracks featuring Richards' lead vocals.

Richards wrote the song (credited as a Jagger/Richards composition) on piano in the Paris recording studio's control room.[citation needed] Ronnie Wood liked the developing song and they recorded it together unaccompanied.[citation needed] Backing vocals and strings were added later. Wood played drums, since Charlie Watts wasn't present for the session, and Watts later said "he could not have done better."[1]

Richards has stated that his singing during the Dirty Work sessions "thickened up" his voice: Since Jagger was absent from the studio much of the time, Richards provided guide vocals for many tracks and learned new microphone techniques.[2][3] His sturdy but smokey vocal presence on "Sleep Tonight" foreshadows the strong and emotive singing on his solo records and later Rolling Stones tracks.

The song[edit]

"Sleep Tonight" is a piano driven ballad, with a restrained string arrangement, a heavy drum beat and a gospel-like vocal arrangement. The song shows a maturing musician and songwriter, and is a bridge between the younger Richards "outlaw" songs and the soulful ballads he became known for on later Rolling Stones records like Slipping Away (Steel Wheels), The Worst and Thru and Thru (Voodoo Lounge), How Can I Stop (Bridges to Babylon) and Losing My Touch (Forty Licks).[citation needed]


  1. ^ Elliott, Martin (2002). The Rolling Stones: Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002. Cherry Red Books. p. 319. ISBN 1-901447-04-9. 
  2. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony. (1988). "Keith Richards: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone. No. 536. 6 October 1988
  3. ^ Bosso, Joseph. "Keith! Tunings, Teles and the Cosmic Shuffle: The Rolling Stone Goes Solo". Guitar World. v. 9, no.11. December 1988.