Phish are not exactly hesitant to cover a song in concert, but Page McConnell has so much respect for "Loving Cup" that he wouldn't play it until Phish were big enough to tour with a grand piano. It was a good decision--that intro, with Keith Richards behind it, lets you know you've found a great song.

In 1972, the Rolling Stones released Exile On Main Street on two records, an album that contains few well-known top 40 hits, but consistently makes critics' top 100 lists, and occasionally makes people's Top 10. Sandwiched between Sweet Black Angel and Happy (or the end of Side 2 for you vinyl fetishists]), Loving Cup is one of those songs you want to keep listening to from the first time you hear it.

The piano intro doesn't make any apologies: it's quiet, bluesy, and vaguely reminiscent of Elton John's work around the same period. The strummed and picked guitar comes in with the lyrics, probably both by Mick Jagger--the lead guitar could be Mick Taylor. Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman hold back on the reins and doesn't even touch the drums or bass until the first chorus, and then a curious thing happens. Jimmy Miller, the album's producer, hops in on percussion with Charlie Watts! Before the horns start in on the bridge, there's an electric guitar--that's the other Mick--and finally, halfway through the song, it's built up from a minimalist ballad to a wall of sound.

The complexity of the layered sound--yes, wharfinger, that's a steel drum!--makes this a great song for quietly picking apart at home, with or without a friend. It's also great on the road, with its wistful, lovelorn lyrics, or at a quieter party because of the easy, friendly tune. You can't miss with this tune.

And as much as I love Phish, the Stones did it better.


I'm the man on the mountain, come on up.
I'm the plowman in the valley with a face full of mud.
Yes, I'm fumbling and I know my car don't start.
Yes, I'm stumbling and I know I play a bad guitar.

Give me little drink! --from your loving cup.
Just one drink! --and I'll fall down drunk.

I'm the man who walks the hillside in the sweet summer sun.
I'm the man that brings you roses when you ain't got none.
Well I can run and jump and fish, but I won't fight
You, if you want to push and pull with me all night.

Give me little drink! --from your loving cup.
Just one drink! --and I'll fall down drunk.

I feel so humble with you tonight,
Just sitting in front of the fire.
I see your face dancing in the flame,
I feel your mouth kissing me again,
What a beautiful buzz, what a beautiful buzz,
What a beautiful buzz, what a beautiful buzz.
Oh, what a beautiful buzz, what a beautiful buzz!

Yes, I am nitty gritty and my shirt's all torn,
But I would love to spill the beans with you till dawn.

Give me little drink! --from your loving cup.
Just one drink! --and I'll fall down drunk.

(written by Keith Richards & Mick Jagger)

Lov"ing cup`.

A large ornamental drinking vessel having two or more handles, intended to pass from hand to hand, as at a banquet.


© Webster 1913

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