Heard this song today and thought, gee, these lyrics sound quite familiar. I was right, but had never heard why. I have listened to Beggar’s Banquet thousands of times, and never realized they lifted the song, its style, its lyrics, its mood, from Robert Wilkins. I hope they sent him flowers or something…
Eugene Chadbourne reports:
It is quite obvious to anyone with functioning ears that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had heard the late-’20s song entitled “That’s No Way to Get Along” by the Reverend Robert Wilkins, because the Rolling Stones album track “Prodigal Son” is a direct copy, at least to the point in the road where the imitation of Wilkins’ guitar style hits a technical roadblock. Yet the early pressings of the Stones’ cover listed the writers as Jagger and Richards, a deception that was only corrected following legal action. According to the Stones, the mistake was inadvertent and happened because the original artwork for the Beggars Banquet album had to be redone. Because a publisher connected with the original Vocalion label had nabbed the actual collecting rights to the song, this unfortunately did not result in a financial windfall for Wilkins. And although he took great advantage of the ’60s roots music revival and performed both concerts and new recordings in the absolute prime of his musical power, there is no way that every pimply high school kid who sat around listening to the Stones’ “Prodigal Son” actually was lucky enough to get a taste of the real thing.
A mix of Afro-American and Cherokee Indian, Wilkins hailed from De Soto County, MS, famous stomping grounds for Delta blues.
(click here to continue reading Robert Wilkins | AllMusic.)
Here’s the audio that someone uploaded to YouTube: