Readers' Poll: The Rolling Stones' 10 Greatest Songs

Andy Greene
Rolling Stone

The Rolling Stones roared back to life this past week with a pair of shows in Paris, and that's just the beginning of their huge 50th anniversary plans. Right now, only two London and two Newark, New Jersey, shows are on the books, but all signs point to a ton more on the horizon. They're likely to even include former bandmates Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman in some capacity.

We figured this was a good time to poll our readers and determine their favorite Rolling Stones songs. As expected, the feedback was overwhelming. Read on to see the results.

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10. 'Angie'

The Rolling Stones went through a bit of a creative dry spell after the release of their 1972 masterpiece, Exile on Main Street The follow-up album, Goats Head Soup, has its moments, but the group was clearly not operating at their peak. (Drugs had more than a little to do with the problem.) The album was still a big hit, driven partially by the huge success of the lead single, "Angie." The tender ballad shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in America.

For the past 40 years, fans have been trying to determine if "Angie" is about a particular woman. Some think it's about Angela Bowie, while others point to Angie Dickinson or Keith's daughter Angela. "It was not about any particular person," Keith himself wrote on his memoir, Life. "It was a name like, 'Ohhh, Diana.' I didn't know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote 'Angie.'"

9. 'Tumbling Dice'

While Exile on Main Street may be the Rolling Stones' most famous album these days, it doesn't have very many actual hits on it. "Tumbling Dice" is the lone exception, and it's the only song from the LP that became a regular part of their setlist over the past 40 years. The song began under the title "Good Time Woman," but they weren't quite happy with subject matter, so Jagger wrote the new lyrics, possibly inspired by the casino games the band played in France while recording the album. "I don't think it's our best stuff," Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995. "I don't think it has good lyrics. But people seem to really like it, so good for them."

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8. 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" began its life as a simple ditty Mick Jagger played on the acoustic guitar – but once the band entered Olympic Studios in 1968 to record Let It Bleed, it morphed into something else altogether. Organist Al Kooper and the London Bach Choir were recruited to flesh out the song, and the end result is a sing-along classic that rivals the Beatles' "Hey Jude." "People can identify with it," Jagger told Rolling Stone in 1995. "No one gets what they always want. It's got a very good melody. It's got very good orchestral touches that Jack Nitzsche helped with. So it's got all the ingredients."

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7. 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking'

Sticky Fingers was a very important album for the Rolling Stones. It was their first disc after Brian Jones left the band and their first full-length LP with his replacement, Mick Taylor. It instantly crushed any doubts that the group was going to struggle without their founding member. It's packed so full of hits that it's easy to overlook the seven-minute epic "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," though over the years, it has emerged as a huge fan favorite.

According to Mick Taylor, the jam at the end was a totally spontaneous moment that the band nailed in a single take. The song sat dormant for a great long time, but in 2002, it began making regular appearances in the setlist.

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6. 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'

After the failed experiment of 1967's Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Rolling Stones knew it was time to return to a more basic rock sound. The "Jack" in this song is actually Keith's old gardener, Jack Dyer; Jagger crashed at Keith's place one night and the sound of Dyer walking around in his rubber boots woke Mick up. He asked Keith about the noise. "Oh, that's Jack. That's Jumping Jack." From that tiny spark, they sat down together and wrote one of their biggest hits.

In many ways, the track launched a whole new phase of the band's career. A crappy follow-up to Their Satanic Majesties Request could have easily sent the band into a downward spiral, but they bounced back in a bigger way than almost anyone could have imagined possible.

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