Notes on Exile On Main Street

Three miscellaneous notes on the great 1972 Rolling Stones album

The Butter Queen was real

The lyrics to “Rip This Joint” include the line “‘Cross to Dallas, Texas with the Butter Queen”. The Butter Queen was a real person. She used a stick of butter for sex acts. Here’s more information on her.

Three Ball Charlie

Three Ball Charlie is the guy with three balls in his mouth on the Exile on Main Street cover. His picture has also been on t-shirts. He was a side show performer.

The Exile on Main Street album cover and postcards

The album cover and interior contents were designed by John Van Hamersveld (born in Baltimore. He designed many album covers including Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles.

Here are two articles on it:

Cover Story – The Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street”, with artwork by John Van Hamersveld

The impact of John Van Hamersveld’s artwork on The Rolling Stones’ ‘Exile on Main Street’

The photographs on the outside are by Robert Frank. The postcards use photographs by Norman Seeff.

Nashville Skyline is 50

Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline was released on April 9, 1969. It continued the country leanings of the last two songs on his prior album John Wesley Harding. It was a lot different than the albums he had produced just a few years earlier of image-laden organ-drenched pounding rock.

This was a straight country album and didn’t seem very ambitious. It was peaceful during a really turbulent time. The best songs have held up well – I prefer “I Threw It All Away” and “To Be Alone With You” to the hit “Lay Lady Lay”.

Covers: Carol

Chuck Berry recorded his song “Carol” in 1958. The Beatles performed it for the BBC in 1963 but that wasn’t released until 1994. The Rolling Stones also covered it in 1964. Both bands just sound really young to me. The Rolling Stones also covered it live in 1969; this is a much more confident and relaxed version.

A recent cover – a timeless song

Covers: Door Number Three

These are not really covers. They are two versions by the song’s co-authors, Steve Goodman and Jimmy Buffett. The song makes references to the TV show “Let’s Make a Deal” and name-checks three actual people on the show, the host Monty Hall and his sidekicks Jay (Stewart) and Carol Merrill. Buffett’s version was released in 1974 and Goodman’s version was released in 1975. Goodman’s version quotes lines from Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” which end with “Do you want to make a deal?”. Buffett’s version has some lines at the end that are not in Goodman’s recording.

example of Let’s Make a Deal

Covers: Elvis Costello – Get Happy!!

Get Happy!! (1980) is a very underrated album by Elvis Costello. Influenced by R&B, Elvis crammed 20 brief songs into the album. The reissue has 30 bonus tracks! Most were original but there were two covers. Both were great but very different from the original versions.

I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down

The 1967 original version by Sam and Dave was a slow ballad. Elvis really speeds it up. It was released as a single.

I Stand Accused

The original version was by Jerry Butler (1964). It was covered by Isaac Hayes (1970). Both of these versions are slow ballads. Elvis again cranks it up and speeds it up.