Before it served as the setting to for Romantic Comedies, like the 1994 film Only You and 2003’s Under the Tuscan Sun, or was home to singer-songwriter Shawn Phillips in the ’70s, or the place where The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote “Midnight Rambler,” or it became the must-visit destination frequented by some of today’s most paparazzi-stalked celebrities like; Beyonce and Jay-Z, George and Amal Clooney, and Julia Roberts, Positano was, simply, the little cliffside fishing village embedded into the hills of Campania, Italy.
Situated on the Amalfi Coast, the “vertical town” enjoys everything a vacationer could ever hope for: immediate access to the glittering waters of the Salerno Gulf, boutique- and cafe-lined streets, and Beaches—so many beaches. And when Jayne Mansfield and her family stopped by the idyllic village in the ’60s, she took full advantage of the latter in a playful two-piece. For your upcoming trip to Positano, you’d do well to do the same—shop CR‘s beach-ready list of bikinis, sunglasses, and sandals, below.
Mick Jagger in Positano with Jade and Bianca Jagger
Andy Warhol and Friedns 1973
On the composing of the song, Mick Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone, “That´s a song Keith and I really wrote together. We were on a holiday in Italy. In this very beautiful hill town, Positano, for a few nights. Why we should write such a dark song in this beautiful, sunny place, I really don´t know. We wrote everything there — the tempo changes, everything. And I´m playing the harmonica in these little cafes, and there´s Keith with the guitar.”
When asked about the song in a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, Richards said: “Usually when you write, you just kick Mick off on something and let him fly on it, just let it roll out and listen to it and start to pick up on certain words that are coming through, and it´s built up on that. A lot of people still complain they can´t hear the voice properly. If the words come through its fine, if they don´t, that´s all right too, because anyway that can mean a thousand different things to anybody.”
The lyrics take the point of view of a roaming rapist/murderer; some of the words are reportedly quotes from Albert DeSalvo´s confession to the Boston Strangler´s crimes. Keith Richards has called the number “a Blues Opera”.
The studio version of the track (which runs six minutes and fifty-three seconds) was recorded in early 1969 at London´s Olympic Sound Studios. Jagger performs vocals and harmonica, while Richards plays all the guitars on the track, using standard tuning for the main guitars and open-E tuning for the slide. Bill Wyman plays bass and Charlie Watts drums; multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones is credited on congas, but is inaudible on the released version.
The Rolling Stones debuted “Midnight Rambler” on stage on 5 July 1969 and performed it regularly in concert through 1976; performances frequently included Jagger crawling around and lashing the stage with his belt. One notable 1969 performance (running just over nine minutes) was captured for the 1970 album Get Yer Ya-Ya´s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert and was re-released on the 1971 compilation album Hot Rocks. This rendition features guitarist Mick Taylor in addition to Jagger, Richards, Wyman and Watts, while versions from 1975 onward feature Ronnie Wood instead of Taylor. “Midnight Rambler” returned to the Stones stage repertoire in 1989 and has remained a powerful concert favourite ever since. The rendition featured in the Stones´ 2003 concert film Four Flicks runs about twelve minutes.
MICK in POSITANO
Jane Mansfield in POSITANO
The Summer He Wrote
with KEITH RICHARDS
of The ROLLING STONES
The ROLLING STONES
“LET IT BLEED”
MIDNIGHT RAMBLER (Written in Positano) …. GIMMIE SHELTER
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
Mick Jagger and Keit Richards