My song today is, ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’. This song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It was originally released by the ‘Rolling Stones’ as a double A-sided single together with ‘Ruby Tuesday’ in January 1967. The song has been covered by various artists, including David Bowie in 1973.
Released in the United Kingdom as a single on 13 January 1967, ‘Let's Spend the Night Together’ reached Number 3 on the ‘UK Singles Chart’ as a double A-Side with ‘Ruby Tuesday’. Both songs entered the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ singles chart on 21 January. However, by 4 March, ‘Ruby Tuesday’ reached Number 1, while ‘Let's Spend the Night Together’ stalled at Number 55. Due to the sexually charged nature of the lyrics, ‘Let's Spend the Night Together’ received less airplay. Other countries also considered ‘Ruby Tuesday’ to be more suitable for radio airplay and so it charted higher than ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’.
On ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in America, the band was initially refused permission to perform the number. Sullivan himself told Jagger, "Either the song goes, or you go". A compromise was reached to substitute the words "let's spend some time together" in place of "let's spend the night together". Jagger agreed to change the lyrics but ostentatiously rolled his eyes at the TV camera while singing them, as did Bill Wyman. When the Rolling Stones, following their performance of the song, returned on stage, they were all dressed up in Nazi uniforms with swastikas, which caused Sullivan to angrily order them to return to their dressing rooms to change back into their performance clothes, at which point they left the studio altogether. As a result of this incident, Sullivan announced that the ‘Rolling Stones’ would be banned from performing on his show again. However, the ‘Rolling Stones' did appear on the show again and performed three songs on 23 November 1969.
In April 2006, for their first-ever performance in China, authorities prohibited the group from performing the song due to its ‘suggestive lyrics’.
I was aged 25 years when this song was first released and was engaged to be married the following year. I am not saying that I was ‘an angel’ where it came to observance of all the rules that were then expected of a young man intended to be married, but I did conform to the basic expectation of all British men who were engaged to be married; namely that you did not have full sexual intercourse with your intended bride until your wedding night.
However, I would have to admit to us having spent the night together in an hotel down in the Cotswolds, whenever we went to see one of the Shakespearian plays in Stratford-upon-Avon. We would usually stopover in the Cotswolds before heading for Stratford the next day.
When we first became engaged, we each had our own cultural interest. Mine was reading books and I would often get through two or three books weekly. My fiancée was a ballet lover and a keen patron of Shakespearian plays, which she introduced me to during our courtship. I confess that at school, Shakespeare wasn’t my favourite subject, although I did like the theatre. During our years of engagement and early marriage, we would attend all the Shakespearian plays at the Stratford-upon-Avon Royal Shakespeare Company twice yearly.
When I look back now, I’d have to admit to having been spoilt, as I was introduced to Shakespeare by watching some of the country’s finest actors and actresses at the start of their long and distinguished careers. I will never forget seeing a young Judy Dench strut the stage as though she owned it, and so many more great thespians, several of whom would help me twenty years later in my charitable work, including the great Dame Judy Dench.
Back to our stop-over at the Cotswold Hotel. My main recollection of the first time we stayed in an hotel together was how it came about. My fiancée asked me to book the room as she did not want her widowed mother to know any more than was necessary, and being a young man in my mid-twenties, I was naturally pleased when the only available room for that weekend turned out to be a double . I was still living at my parent’s house at the time and when the letter confirming our overnight hotel booking arrived (I cannot now recall how it came about), my father opened the letter and glanced at its contents. I was half expecting his stern Roman Catholic words of disapproval, but I surprisingly forgot that he was a man ‘as well as’ being a Roman Catholic.
Dad simply looked at me and said, “If you can get away with it, lad, what’s it got to do with me?” Given his strictness in almost all things under the sun, his response really took me off guard. Even being the age of 25 years during the 1960s, didn't allow one full adult liberty. When one still lived at the parental abode, parental rules and expectations were crossed at one's peril.
I cannot begin to even imagine how he would have responded had it been a ‘dirty weekend’ of one of my sister's letters he’d stumbled across? Anyway, it was this period in my life that today’s song reminds me of.
Love and peace Bill xxx