The Rolling Stones—
We Love You/Dandelion

Released 1967 on London/Decca
The Seth Man, April 2004ce
In August of 1967, The Stones released their “We Love You” / “Dandelion” single three weeks after Mick Jagger and Keith Richard were granted bail and their drug charges successfully overturned. It was a five-month odyssey of legal hassles and looming prison sentences surrounded by waves of sensational media headlines and “We Love You” was on the surface a thank you note for the support they had received from friends when they most needed it. But below the surface was a truly subversive record that blatantly upped of the ante of their previous defiant collisions of sound. It was more hectic than “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows?” and weirder than “Please Go Home” as well as a barometer of the changing social climate of the day in all its sense of adventure, confusion and pressure. They took it all back home, returned and aimed a hose of kerosene upon a blazing indictment of society’s hypocrisy. Not exactly gloating, but more like glowering menacingly with a return volley that they weren’t just wasn’t gonna be polite and creep away quietly.

In other words, it was the new single by The Stones.

It was their fifteenth U.S. single since 1964.
(That’s an average of five singles a years for three years.)

On top of touring and recording album tracks.
(And dating women like Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg.)

And as for the remaining corner of the “sex, drugs, rock’n’roll” triangle
(The Stones had it covered.)

...Signed, sealed, delivered.

Change was in the air and The Stones were growing more and more independent and would shed yet another layer of dead skin as “We Love You” would be Andrew Loog Oldham’s final production for The Stones with Oldham selling off his share in the group to Allen Klein just before they recorded their self-produced album, “Their Satanic Majesties Request.”

The single starts off with the sound of clanking keys, footsteps and then the slamming of cell doors with all the permanency of Aladdin’s boulder-sealed cave until the signature clattering chatter of Nicky Hopkins’ piano introduces a dark and propulsive bass line intro that tightens up and relaxes at the bottom end. Uncredited guest vocals by John Lennon and Paul McCartney add to a piercing police siren call of the second lyric line which extended itself for about THIS long:

“Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee love you”

...And it gets repeated long and loud as though making the biggest, greatest puckering kissy-face lips with both head and ass in the direction of the establishment that nearly succeeded in breaking their collective butterflies on a wheel. Wiser heads prevailed over what was obviously a failed symbolic strike at the emerging London underground in general and The Stones in particular. But with so narrowly missing an extended stay in Wormwood Scrubs, do The Stones back off? No: they just keep on repeating:

“Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee love you”

Jagger’s vocals are slow, sneering and searingly snotty; and as usual he’s is singing them in rhythm until they rhyme...which they never do. In the lyrics, “we” and “they” are purposefully oblique reference points. They don’t point fingers as much as inform their lyrics with the ability to resign their meaning INTO the rhythm -- to make the rhythm as well as all the subtle twists, turns and grunts speak volumes where lyrics never could on half the visceral level. The bridge is a jumble of Watts pounding his tom-toms quietly yet forceful, as though adapting the repeating pattern from “Tomorrow Never Knows” but making it swing far harder and wider AND nailing it every time...While bashing the cymbals squarely and evenly for good measure.

“We Love You” was the first Stones record to feature mellotron and Brian Jones handles it as deftly as he did sitar, recorder and every other exotic instrument he was then adding into The Stones’ ever-expanding sonic vocabulary. It’s handled expressively, flickering flame-like and content to stab throughout the song ominously as though with a spirit’s knife and eventually winding up the coda with a truly dense nighttime air reenacting freezing North African desert mysteries.

Director Peter Whitehead was quickly summoned to produce a promotional film for “We Love You.” Loosely based on the trial of Oscar Wilde, images of Mick as Wilde, Keith as the Marquess of Queensbury and Marianne Faithfull as Bosie run crosscut with superimposed images of headphone-wearing Stones inside Olympic Studios (in all certainty laying down tracks for either the single or “Their Satanic Majesties Request” as Brian is shown both at the mellotron, then picking tremulously at a sitar.) It was finished just before the charges were successfully overturned, but was subsequently banned by the BBC, anyway.

The flip side was the fairy-tale buoyancy of the poetically perfect “Dandelion”. Delicate double harpsichord cascades all around the rhythm, pronounced with Wyman’s percussive bass and unusually loud and triple-thunderous fills from Watts that run riot throughout. The vocal harmonies bear more than a passing resemblance to Traffic’s “Paper Sun” (May 1967) or those on “Private Sorrow” by The Pretty Things (November 1968). Taking these release dates and pushing them back a month or two, they still don’t pre-date the recording of “Dandelion”: originally an outtake from the November 1966 session that also produced “Ruby Tuesday” the B-side of their preceding single, “Let’s Spend The Night Together” (January 1967.) Even taking into account that their prodigious output was interrupted by gaol, courtroom proceedings and legal tie-ups, the tenacity of The Stones just to pick up where they left off is a wonder. But although “Dandelion” made considerable impact aesthetically, at the time of its release it was nonetheless viewed as a tongue-in-cheek reflection on flower power.

Accidentally on purpose...

This is a BURNT single. Like the slight return fade-ins of the opposite songs tagged on both sides. Which brings me back to the Traffic influence: is THIS where they snagged the idea for stringing all the tracks on the U.S. release of “Mr. Fantasy” with those muted segments from “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”? Could be, I think it is and besides: it WAS produced by Jimmy Miller, who would then go on to produced several consecutive Stones’ albums -- four of which are considered their grand slam of LP perfection. Does it matter? No! Do I care? Of course I do! And it’s only because The Stones are still the greatest rock’n’roll band of all time (Without know how that one goes) only nowadays: nobody seems to need them like I do and probably always will. They were dirt-bags before “Dirt.” They were snotty long before others were younger, louder, and snottier. They didn’t care long before The Sex Pistols sang they didn’t. And so on (you know how this one goes, I know you do.)

Do a little investigation and start with the singles and listen to the ones you’ve never heard. Buy “Between The Buttons” and skip “Ruby Tuesday” and play “Sold Out.” Listen -- REALLY LISTEN -- to “Satisfaction” and tell me that’s not one of the best rock’n’roll songs to hit the ground running ever (And if you do, you be lying.) Play the British mono of “Aftermath” just for the extended pleasures of “Out Of Time” and “Goin’ Home.” Get shitfaced and listen to “Sticky Fingers.” Get even more shitfaced until you can barely stand and listen to “Exile.” And then follow it up with “Beggar’s Banquet” until you puke or lose consciousness and wake up in a dead chill curled up on the basement floor with the end of side one clicking over and over again at 6:40am, thus waking you up and wondering where your mind went after “No Expectations.”

Ok, don’t overdo it and blame me just ‘cause I did it in my youth. I was crazy.
I love rock’n’roll and without it I’d be a dead man.
So, I like it. Like it. Yes: I most categorically do.

The 2-CD set of “More Hot Rocks” and the 3-CD set of their entire singles discography are the only places “We Love You” and “Dandelion” are currently available.