The Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Woman

First Hit #1: August 23, 1969

The first line in the song is about a gin-soaked bar room queen in Memphis, and this is appropriate, because this is one gin-soaked track overall. Taking some inspiration from the alcohol soaked side of country music – the rest being derived from the wicked cowbell that brings the song together – this is a song that brings to mind a very specific place, both in sound and content. That place is a seedy, grungy, run down dive bar where people drink too much, get in too many fights, and go home with people they’re not that attracted to in order to do things they’ll regret later.

It’s brilliant.

Seriously, it’s a credit to any song when it can bring to mind a very specific place, mood, and atmosphere, and the one the Rolling Stones conjure is one that might not be a place your sensible side would approve of, but is one that your more primal urges would enjoy immensely. It’s a song founded on poor decision making, but the kind of poor decisions that make great songs and good stories. It’s sex, violence and copious amounts of alcohol. It’s what country music should be, but too often isn’t.

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