4 Songs You Didn’t Know Keith Richards Wrote For Other Artists

When Keith Richards and Mick Jagger got together in the salad days of the Rolling Stones, it was like they were two lightning bolts in the same bottle. The songwriters had such chemistry together, Jagger with lyrics and delivery and Richards with chord structure and guitar solos. They were two sides of the same composition coin. But Richards didn’t always need Jagger, and vice versa.

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For Richards, who was born on December 18, 1943, music was a way of life from a young age. He sang in school choir, he played guitar early on. In 1963, Richards and Jagger began writing together, scoring early hits like “As Tears Go By” for Marianna Faithful (more on her below). In 1965, they wrote “The Last Time” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” for the Stones. Boom. They were off.

While Richards is known for his pairing with Jagger, he has also written with other songwriters both for his own solo material and for theirs. Here, we wanted to share four songs you likely didn’t know that Keith Richards wrote for other artists—yes, including Jagger.

1. “That Feel,” Tom Waits

Written by Tom Waits and Keith Richards

From Waits’ 1992 Grammy Award-winning album, Bone Machine, this song, which concludes the 16-track record, is all about that feel. Waits’ circus lyrics—sort of a stream-of-consciousness poem—describe everything you can do to your instinct but there’s one thing for sure, you can’t lose it. It will never leave you. It’s an old, crying mournful song, one in which you can hear a foot tapping on the floor. Richards’ guitar and backing vocals on the song give it a haunting feel.

Well, there’s one thing you can’t lose
It’s that feel
Your pants, your shirt, your shoes
But not that feel
You can throw it out in the rain
You can whip it like a dog
You can chop it down like an old dead tree
You can always see it
When you’re coming into town
Once you hang it on the wall
You can never take it down

2. “Memo From Turner,” Mick Jagger

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Surprise! Jagger and Richards are together again. Though there are several versions of the song recorded, the most well-known version is from the 1970 British film Performance. The track does not originate from a ‘Stones album, though it was included in 1989 on a compilation from the band, Singles Collection: The London Years. The track itself, which features shrieking bluesy slide guitar, is a kind of fever dream where who knows who is who. It’s got a wild west, gangster feel—careful, the language isn’t exactly P.C. The song is also featured prominently in the movie, sung by Jagger onscreen.

So remember who you say you are
And keep your trousers clean
Boys will be boys and play with toys
So be strong with your beast
So Rosie dear, don’t you think it’s queer
So stop me if you please
The baby’s dead, the lady said
“You schmucks all work for me!”

3. “Sister Morphine,” Marianne Faithfull

Written by Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards

This 1969 song was released by the British rock singer Marianne Faithfull as a B-side to her Decca Records track, “Something Better.” A different version was released two years later by The Rolling Stones for the group’s 1971 LP, Sticky Fingers. The song, as one might imagine, is about drug addiction.

Here I lie in my hospital bed
Tell me, Sister Morphine, when are you coming round again?
Oh, I don’t think I can wait that long
Oh, you see that I’m not that strong

The scream of the ambulance is sounding in my ears
Tell me, Sister Morphine, how long have I been lying here?
What am I doing in this place?
Why does the doctor have no face?

Oh, I can’t crawl across the floor
Ah, can’t you see, Sister Morphine, I’m trying to score

4. “So Much in Love,” The Mighty Avengers

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Released in 1964, this song came together because The Mighty Avengers’ manager, Danny Betesh, was negotiating a record deal with Andrew Loog Oldham, who at the time also managed The Rolling Stones. “So Much In Love” was The Mighty Avengers’ only hit. The track spent two weeks at the top of the U.K. charts, the 46th most popular song in the country for all of 1964. The song also charted in Australia at No. 22.

No use cryin’ now, you’ll get by somehow
You thought that you had me, just where I ought to be

You thought I was so much in love with you, yeah
Do what you wanna do, but now you know, I’ve changed my mind

You can’t send me away, then ask me back to stay
We’ve never been the same since you played your game

Photo by David Wolff-Patrick/Redferns

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