Steal Away

Despite Jeff Beck’s obvious skill as a guitarist, The Yardbirds found him to be difficult to work with, because of his frequent outbursts and absences during a U.S. tour, so they fired Beck. In the late 60s, Jeff Beck formed The Jeff Beck Group which consisted of Beck on guitar, Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who was quickly replaced by Mickey Waller.  Nicky Hopkins joined as the keyboardist in early 1968, and in 1969 Tony Newman became the new drummer.  They played at the Fillmore East in 1968, preceding the Grateful Dead and they were scheduled to play at Woodstock, but Beck heard a rumor about his wife having an affair with the gardener, so he flew back to the U.K.

Jeff Beck’s finger picking technique is unique because of his fluid manner, he uses all of his fingers to shape his playing to the maximum of a guitar’s abilities.  He tends to use his thumb to pick downstrokes and his index finger for upstrokes.  This also shifts the angle of his right hand to be ideal for manipulating the volume control with his pinkie finger.  Beck even uses the edge of his palm to push down on his guitar’s bridge for vocal-like upward bends.

Jeff Beck thought his new group was a way to make crushingly, loud, heavy noise to establish the template for heavy metal, but not everyone involved agreed with Beck’s idea.  The Jeff Beck Group lacked a clear cut songwriter, which made it difficult for them to find enough material to fill an album, but they did make two, Truth in 1968 and Beck-Ola in 1969, however neither one of these albums were particularly successful.  The band members tended to fight regularly, they suffered from internal struggles, jealousies and rumors.  When the group broke up, Beck had an opportunity to join The Rolling Stones in the wake of the death of Brian Jones, which he declined and his career was not as successful as the rest of the members of this band.  Beck has won multiple Grammy Awards, and The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.  Beck was also inducted as a solo artist in 2009.

Faces are an English rock band formed in 1969 by members of the Small Faces after Steve Marriott left that group to form Humble Pie.  The members that remained were Ian McLagan (keyboards), Ronnie Lane (bass), and Kenney Jones (drums & percussion).  They were joined by Ronnie Wood (guitar) and Rod Stewart (lead vocals), both from The Jeff Beck Group, and the new line-up was renamed Faces.  They released 4 studio albums between 1970 and 1973 including First StepLong PlayerA Nod Is As Good As a Wink… To a Blind Horse (which went Gold) and Ooh La La along with a string of singles having a Top 20 hit with ‘Stay With Me’.  They made it their mission to create merry music and have a real good time doing so, by living the rock & roll lifestyle to the extreme.  Even while they were still together Rod Stewart already started branching out doing solo stuff becoming a superstar in his own right.  Ronnie Lane became frustrated and he got tired of being in Faces, so he took the plunge in 1973 to go solo forming his own group Slim Chance and he was replaced by Tetsu Yamauchi.  After the group ended, Wood joined the Rolling Stones, drummer Kenny Jones eventually became part of the Who and keyboardist Ian McLagan became a sought-after supporting musician.  The Faces played their last show in December 1975.  The Small Faces along with the Faces were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

‘Sweet Lady Mary’ came out on the British rock group’s second album Long Player, which was released in 1971.  This gospel-style ballad ‘Sweet Lady Mary’ was written by Lane, Stewart and Wood.  ‘Sweet Lady Mary’ is a definite highlight of the Long Player album, featuring very nice guitar work from Wood and beautiful interplay between acoustic and electric guitars over the background of a swirling, winterish organ that is complemented by the passionate, tender and loving vocals of Rod Stewart.  Ronnie Wood also got to play pedal steel on a portion of this song.

The word Lady was used to describe only women of a high social class or status, but now it may refer to any adult woman, but Lady also a formal title in the United Kingdom.  Lady can be used by an unmarried woman, or by the wife of a man with the title Lord, Baron or Sir.  Since Sweet Lady Mary is capitalized, I am going to view her as being some type of Royal and she does get to eat breakfast in bed which may support this.  This guy, perhaps a servant has fallen for her, but it became awkward and now that is over.  He feels real bad about how the love affair ended and now he just wants to get away.  He complains about her Spanish habits, whatever they are, maybe she talked too loud or liked to party too much.  She lied to him and he is going to quit his job and he is going to America, “Where the Gulf Stream waters tend to ease the pain.”

Sweet Lady Mary has to rest her poor head
Wakes in the morning with her breakfast in bed
I tried to help her, but I did not know how
I tried to love her, but it’s all over now
Nothing left to comfort me, except a sunny day
Steal away, steal away

Over the stones along the dusty old road
With every footstep one more tale is told
With every turning one more side to see
Sweet Lady Mary’s seen the last of me
A lesson is learnt, I’ll never come this way again
I’ll steal away, steal away

Her Spanish habits are so hard to forget
The lady lied with every breath, I accept
Was a matter of time before my face did not fit
I knew all along I’d have to quit
Anyway now, I better not waste anymore of your time
I’ll steal away, steal away

I think I’ll go back home and start all again
Where the Gulf Stream waters tend to ease the pain
And on a new day when I’ve mended the wound
Sweet Lady Mary’s gate I swear I’ll be bound
But before I sit down again and waste anymore of your time
I better steal away, steal away

I’ll steal away-ay
Da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da
Da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da
Da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Fluid, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Gold and for Ragtag Community – Grateful.

8 thoughts on “Steal Away

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