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You Can't Always Get What You Want
The Rolling Stones
A scripturally-based psychoSONGanalysis by psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT
Phantom Tollbooth Visitors: Want to prepare for the Single Serving you are about to receive? The two song "soundtrack," to this Single serving is offered here for free. Here's a double download from Dr. BLT's free mp3 Jukebox.
Dr. BLT's Modern Rock Cover
Dr. BLT's answer to the Stones
Sympathy For the Devil:
And here's where you can
find the lyrics, and the melody to the answer to the Stones' Can't Always
Get What You Want:
I saw her today at a receptionIn the first verse, we are introduced to a drug fiend. She's trying to fill herself up. She's got a glass of wine in her hand, and man at her feet, and she's a drug deal away from a brand new trip. We, the listeners, may look down upon her, but in a sense, before we found Christ, we were all once drug fiends, in search of that perfect drug---whether that drug be a literal drug, or whether we're speaking in figurative terms. The unique part about this song is that the verses tell stories based on a person's factual or fictional subjective experience. The chorus always takes us back to the universal truth that we may know what we want, and many times, how to get it, but in the end, we are left with our need, and that need eventually needs to be met.
And I went down to the demonstrationThe song was written and first recorded in the 60s, when demonstrations were all the rage (pun intended). There was a lot of demonstrating going on, and there was a great deal venting of frustrations. Sometimes people ended up dead, like the person stabbed to death by a member of the Hell's Angels, the "security force" hired to protect concertgoers at a rock festival at Altamont Speedway, near San Francisco in 1969. If I'm not mistaken, that death occurred as the Stones were in the midst of performing Under My Thumb. Much more than a "50-amp fuse" was blown at that event. Some say rock's very spirit of optimism died on that infamous day. People came from far and wide, looking for a musical background to their respective drug trips. What they got was a hard, cold shot of reality. Hiring the Hell's Angels to protect is like hiring Howard Stern to be an ethical consultant. Sometimes when you exercise poor judgment you get something you don't want, something you didn't bargain for, and something you don't need.
I went down to the Chelsea drugstoreMr. Jimmy doesn't seem to be running on all cylinders. It is doubtful that the "drugstore" or the "prescription" depicted in this verse is a legitimate drugstore, or a legitimate prescription. It is doubtful that legitimate soda was consumed. It was likely something like acid-spiked, "electric" cool-aid, a very popular beverage among the hippies the '60s.
Fill my cup, LordThat doesn't sound like a verse from "Can't Always Get What You Want," does it? No, I thought I'd throw you for a loop (no pun intended). Around the time the Stones came out with "Can't Aways Get What You Want," (which portrays the emptiness that comes with seeking to be filled at all the wrong filling stations), Fill My Cup emerged as the ascendant gospel ode to the divine beverage that Jesus offered, both then, and now. The song serves as the perfect answer, and the perfect antidote to the angst and emptiness expressed in "Can't Always Get What You Want." Now----back to the Rolling Stones.
I saw her today at the receptionDepicted in this final verse is the notion that what you think you see is not always what actually appears before you. An optimist sees the glass as half full. A pessimist sees it as half empty. An optimist can turn into a pessimist, as revealed in this song. The observer in this song initially sees the glass as full of wine, but in the end, he realizes that it is blood---blood coming from the very man he thought was at the woman's feet. In actuality, he was like the crushed grapes that produce wine. Moreover, he was in her glass, about to be consumed by her. Jesus turned the water into wine. It was a miraculous act. The woman depicted in this song had deceived the observer by turning the blood into wine. It was not a miracle, but a clever act of deception, like the tricks the pharaoh's magicians of Egypt used to mimic the plagues God had released upon the nation the pharaoh ruled.
The song, to some, may seem
to celebrate drugs, but, while it is no secret that members of the Rolling
Stones participated in the fruits of the drug culture, the song, to me,
seems to portray a futile search for the things we want as an ersatz imitation
of the real thing---that which we need. There is an old gospel song
performed by Tennessee Ernie Ford (among others) that my parents used to
play on their stereo record player. It was called He Knows What I
Need. The Stones fall short of bringing God into the picture in "Can't
Always Get What You Want." Like "Fill My Cup, Lord," the picture
is made complete in He Know What I Need. It contrasts all of the
selfish things the songwriter asks God for in his prayers, with God's understanding
of his underlying needs. God does not always give us what we want,
but He always seems to know what we need. He knows what we need to
fill our empty cups and that's what He so abundantly provides.