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Listen to first original Rolling Stones song in 8 years, ‘Living in a Ghost Town’

The Rolling Stones
On Thursday, following a notable appearance on Global Citizen’s all-star livestream concert, the Rolling Stones dropped “Living in a Ghost Town,” their first original song since 2012.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

“If I wanna party, it’s a party of one,” Mick Jagger sings in the Rolling Stones’ new single, “Living in a Ghost Town,” and if that line resonates right now — well, that was the point.

Released with little warning Thursday morning, “Living in a Ghost Town” was originally written and recorded last year as part of a new studio album the Stones have been working on in Los Angeles and London. But with the world on lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the frontman took another pass at the song’s lyrics, he told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, then finished the plague-times version of the track while he, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts were in isolation.

A slinky-spooky blues-soul strut with faint echoes of “Some Girls,” “Living in a Ghost Town” — available on streaming services and with a YouTube video featuring footage from various deserted cities — has Jagger pondering the hours he’s spent alone just staring at his phone; there’s also a harmonica solo and prominent turns by Darryl Jones on bass and Matt Clifford on keys.

The song, coproduced by longtime collaborator Don Was, is the first original tune the Stones have put out since “Doom and Gloom” and “One More Shot,” both of which were included on the 2012 hits compilation “GRRR!” The band’s most recent album of new material was 2005’s “A Bigger Bang”; “Blue & Lonesome,” a collection of blues covers, came out in 2016, not long after the Stones played the Desert Trip festival in Indio along with Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, the Who, Roger Waters and Neil Young.

Starring Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Rolling Stones and more, Global Citizen’s “One World: Together at Home” broadcast raised $127 million for the W.H.O.

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The Stones aren’t the only one of those classic-rock acts doing what they can to keep cooped-up fans entertained. Dylan has dropped two surprise singles in recent weeks, including the 17-minute “Murder Most Foul” about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And Young and his wife, Daryl Hannah, have been posting what they’re calling “Fireside Sessions” from their home in the Rocky Mountains.

Both the Stones and McCartney appeared on Saturday’s “One World: Together at Home” special presented by Global Citizen, the former in a rendition of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” that had Watts drolly air-drumming his part. The Stones had been scheduled to play shows this summer on the No Filter stadium tour that stopped at the Rose Bowl last year, but those dates were called off (along with everything else in the live-music business) as the pandemic ramped up.

Speaking to Apple’s Lowe, Jagger said he didn’t know when the band would return to the road. But he sounded optimistic about the new album — its quality, anyway, if not the speed with which it might appear.

“We’ve got some really good stuff,” the singer said. “But, I mean, don’t hold your breath.”


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