The Rolling Stones, ‘Connection’ – Rock’s Hidden Gems
For every universally celebrated song, known to all and played to death by radio stations everywhere, there are countless hidden gems – album cuts that, for reasons unclear, somehow missed their predestined date with classic rock immortality.
The Rolling Stones' 'Connection' is one song that wasn't able to navigate its way between the buttons and on to rock radio. You could call this hidden gem a diamond in the rough, but that would do a disservice to the other songs the Stones were recording in late-'66. We're talking 'Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?,' 'Ruby Tuesday,' 'Let's Spend the Night Together,' plus the entirety of 'Between the Buttons,' a consistently great album that marked the beginning of the band's flirtation with psychedelia. Everything was coming up diamonds.
So, 'Connection' never got its shot at being a single, despite a winning melodic hook, soothing harmonies, a clap-trap rhythm track and shrugged-off, Chuck Berry-esque riffing from Keith Richards. Over the years, Keef has claimed majority ownership of 'Connection,' on which he shared lead vocal duties with Mick Jagger. Inspired by the Stones' travel-heavy schedule, the lyrics are simple, but prescient – given the band's forthcoming drug-related problems with the law ("My bags they get a very close inspection / I wonder why it is that they suspect 'em").
In 2010, when Jimmy Fallon asked Richards to name his favorite obscure Stones song, he brought up 'Connection." Richards called it "a damn good rock and roll track and I'll stand by it through thick and thin." And he has stood by it. Keef played 'Connection' during his 1988 solo tour and ensured its inclusion in some shows on the Stones' 'Voodoo Lounge' and 'A Bigger Bang' treks. He can be glimpsed singing lead on a bit of the song during Martin Scorsese's Stones concert movie 'Shine a Light.' The entire performance can be heard on the 'Shine a Light' soundtrack album.
Richards isn't the only guy who's a fan of 'Connection.' Ramblin' Jack Elliott included a cover of the song on his 1968 debut album, Sammy Hagar sang a version on Montrose's 'Paper Money' LP in 1974 and other renditions have been done by Arlo Guthrie and Everclear. At least some people connected with the song – a Stones classic that never really got its shot.
Listen to the Rolling Stones' 'Connection'