Why Donald Trump keeps celebrating victories with a grim Rolling Stones song

The Rolling Stones perform during last month's Desert Trip festival in Indio.
(Richard Shotwel l/ Invision / AP)

It was an odd choice for a victory song: a rather bleak acoustic ditty in which a guy goes to a demonstration to get his “fair share of abuse,” then heads to a drugstore where he gets in line with another dude who looks “pretty ill.”

But those are the words that beamed out from New York’s Hilton Midtown hotel early Wednesday as Donald Trump capped his historic acceptance speech with the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

What, nobody had any Nine Inch Nails on their phone?

The rootsy Stones jam, from the band’s classic 1969 album “Let It Bleed,” is widely thought of as a kind of eulogy for the sexual and political upheaval that defined the preceding decade (and thereafter flamed out).


And it’s easy to imagine that idea resonating with law-and-order Trump, whose election can be viewed as a repudiation of the values of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, a clear product of the ’60s.

But, man, what a dark vision!

“I saw her today at the reception / In her glass was a bleeding man,” Mick Jagger sings. “She was practiced at the art of deception / Well, I could tell by her bloodstained hands.”

Makes you long for some Kool and the Gang, doesn’t it?

Of course, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” also carries a message of grown-up pragmatism (however ambivalent), which is likely the takeaway Trump and his team were aiming for.

“You can’t always get what you want,” the song tells us, like a parent speaking to a child, “But if you try sometimes / Well, you might find you get what you need.”

Compare that to the pie-in-the-sky optimism of “Don’t Stop,” the surging Fleetwood Mac anthem Clinton’s husband, Bill, blasted when he was elected president in 1992, and you can hear Trump’s selection as an extension of his let’s-get-real rhetoric.


After all, it’s not the first time Trump has used the song.

In July, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” soundtracked the end of Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention, which led the Stones to issue a statement saying they didn’t endorse him.

On Wednesday, Jagger chimed in again.

“Just was watching the news,” he tweeted. “Maybe they’ll ask me to sing ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ at the inauguration, ha!”

Twitter: @mikaelwood


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