Say what you will about the habits of Keith Richards--when the man writes a musical hook, it hooks you for all time. And perhaps nowhere is this more true than in the song "Waiting For A Friend," where he takes a simple chord movement and throws it into the halls of rock immortality. Unlike the dark warning of "Gimmie Shelter" or the fuzzy frenzy of "Satisfaction," the opening of "Waiting For A Friend" is a welcome mat, an invitation for the listener to get comfortable and come inside the song.
Ok, but once you're in there, it gets even stranger. Because it's almost as though, through the lyrics, one gets to get a glimpse of the always-elusive Mick Jagger, to get a sense of the man as a person, rather than an invention.
"I need someone I can cry to/I need someone to protect..." These are the words of someone opening up to us in a way that the person who wrote "I'm a cold Italian Pizza/I could use a lemon squeezer" never did. The guy isn't on the make for once, or fuming over some unrighteous lover. He's just standing in the doorway, waiting for a friend.
This 1981 song was made in the early days of music video, so it's also fun to watch the relatively young Stones meet up one by one and finally throw on their instruments in the back of some dive bar, only to be ignored by the handful of customers. Ah, irony, 80s style.