"Brown Sugar," one of The Rolling Stones' most popular songs, has disappeared from their performances this year following criticism that it depicts the horrors of slavery. The 1971 hit opens with the lyrics, "Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields."
Critics have said the track contains "some of the most stunningly crude and offensive lyrics that have ever been written" and that it is "gross, sexist, and stunningly offensive towards black women”.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times last week, guitarist Keith Richards confirmed the decision not to perform the song but also said he was confused by the backlash it had received.
"You picked up on that, huh? I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is. Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it. At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this s---. But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track," he said.
Meanwhile, without elaborating on why the classic song was dropped, frontman Mick Jagger said they were experimenting with different setlists without
"We’ve played ‘Brown Sugar’ every night since 1970, so sometimes you think, ‘We’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes,’” he said. "We might put it back in."
Meanwhile, commentator Piers Morgan called the decision "deeply depressing."
"Whatever the truth, ‘Brown Sugar’ is demonstrably a song aimed at defending and supporting black women, not one that seeks to denigrate them or make light of slavery. But the woke-fueled narrative will now be that the song IS racist, so the Stones are therefore racist, and they’ve abandoned performing it because they accept these assertions. What utter nonsense," he said.