In My Eyes You Are Everything

Today Rod Stewart from his 1971 Every Picture Tells A Story album gives us ‘Maggie May’ which charted #1 in both the US and the UK and spent 17 weeks there.  ‘Maggie May’ was inspired by a real woman and real events from Stewart’s life.  In 1961, when Stewart was 16, he went to the Beaulieu Jazz Festival in the New Forest, which was one of Britain’s first experiments in pop festival culture.  These jazz festivals, which are now largely forgotten by history took place from 1956-61 in the deep green pastoral location of the New Forest, and they became sort of like a prelude to Woodstock.  Rod had snuck in with some of his mates entering through an overflow sewage pipe.  It was here on a secluded patch of grass inside a tent, that he lost his virginity with an older (and larger) woman who’d come on to him very strongly.  He is not clear on exactly how much older she was, but he felt that she was old enough to be highly disappointed by the brevity of the experience on his part.

From the age of 16 you can legally consent to sex (this includes sexual intercourse, penetrative sex and any sort of sexual touching), but 16 may not necessarily be the right age for you to start having sex.  Many people do not have sex for the first time until they are older.  Despite the controversies surrounding first-time sex, most young people in the United States become sexually active well before adulthood.  When it happens, it happens and as long as it does not result in pregnancy or transmitting a sexual disease, then it will most likely be a positive experience as long as it does not carry any shame or guilt for doing it.

Rod Stewart’s escapades remind me of myself when I was young, except for the part about losing his virginity, as I am still saving myself, nah!  However, I do remember sneaking into the Drive Movie theater many times by going under the fence and then going to the indoor theater while trying to avoid the attendant who was always checking tickets.  I don’t think that I would have ever crawled through a sewer line to avoid the admission price, but the movie theater did get wise and they applied grease to the spots on their fence that did not go all the way to the ground.  I never made “a living out of playing pool”, but I was a big gambler at this time and I did shoot a lot of pool.

This song was nearly kept off the Every Picture Tells A Story album, because it was too unusual, it ran longer than five minutes and it didn’t have a catchy chorus.  It was really only added at the end because time was running out and Stewart had limited material.  The song was a last-minute addition to Every Picture Tells a Story, recorded as the B side of ‘Reason to Believe’, a Tim Hardin cover, the folk musician and composer who wrote the Top 40 hit ‘If I Were a Carpenter’.  Stewart has joked that if a DJ hadn’t flipped the single over, he’d have gone back to his old job of digging graves.

Despite that inauspicious start, the song helped launch its creator into superstardom, becoming his first major solo hit. ‘Maggie May’ just might have been the song that sealed the deal on his iconic music career by making Rod Stewart stand out among his other band members.  After ‘Maggie May’ became a hit, Faces shows started being billed as “The Faces with Rod Stewart”, making him the focus of the group.  For many, it’s still Stewart’s signature song, played regularly by just about every classic rock station in the world, becoming a timeless song.  The song’s rustic mandolin and acoustic guitars and Mickey Waller’s relentless drum-bashing were undeniable.  ‘Maggie May’ was written by Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton and it is ranked as #131 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.  Martin Quittenton was a British guitarist and composer.  He played in the blues rock band Steamhammer, formed in 1968.

The name Maggie May does not occur in the song, Rod borrowed the title from a traditional Liverpool folk song about a prostitute who robbed a sailor coming home from a round trip.  In 1970, a truncated version of the song was performed by the Beatles and this was included on their album Let It Be.
Oh dirty Maggie Mae they have taken her away
And she never walk down Lime Street any more
Oh the judge he guilty found her
For robbing a homeward bounder
That dirty no good robbin’ Maggie Mae
To the port of Liverpool
They returned me to
Two pounds ten a week, that was my pay

Stewart began working with guitarist Martin Quittenton and they got together at Stewart’s house in Muswell Hill, where Quittenton played some chords that Rod liked.  Rod worked out a vocal melody, and began singing the words to the folk song ‘Maggie Mae’, which got him thinking about that day 10 years earlier when he lost his virginity at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival. The song eventually took shape and became a story about a guy who falls for an older woman and is now both smitten and perplexed.

Every Picture Tells A Story was Stewart’s third solo album, and at the time, he was still the lead singer of the Faces.  Rod brought in two band mates from that group, Ronnie Wood (guitar/bass) and Ian McLagan (organ).  The other musicians were drummer Mickey Waller (he forgot to bring his cymbals to the session, so those were overdubbed later), guitarist Martin Quittenton and mandolin player Ray Jackson.  Ray Jackson played in the band Lindisfarne and he later complained that he only received £15 for his work on this song.  Every Picture Tells A Story became the #1 album on both sides of the Atlantic, making Rod Stewart the first artist to have the #1 song and album in both the US and UK simultaneously.

Rod Stewart started out doing a string of odd jobs including working as a grave digger and living the lifestyle of a beatnik vagrant.  His music career began in 1962 when he took up busking with a harmonica.  Rod created his trademark rooster’s hairstyle in 1963.  He did a few gigs with the Kinks Ray Davies and he played harmonica in a band with Long John Baldry.  Rod recorded his first solo single in September 1964 ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ which was written by Sonny Boy Williamson.  In 1966, he joined the blues-influenced Jeff Beck Group and experienced his first taste of success.  In 1969, he joined the Small Faces what would later become known as the Faces.  Rod Stewart won a Grammy Award for best traditional pop vocal album in 2004 with Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III.  Rod has fathered eight children with five women, has been in three marriages and he is a grandfather.  Rod Stewart was born Roderick David Stewart on January 10, 1945, in London, England, so that means his birthday is tomorrow and he will be 74.  It would be nice to get up tomorrow morning and start singing, “Wake up, Maggie, I think I got somethin’ to say to you.”

Wake up, Maggie I think I got something to say to you
It’s late September and I really should be back at school
I know I keep you amused, but I feel I’m being used
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more
You led me away from home
Just to save you from being alone
You stole my heart, and that’s what really hurts

The morning sun, when it’s in your face really shows your age
But that don’t worry me none in my eyes, you’re everything

I laughed at all of your jokes
My love you didn’t need to coax
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more

You led me away from home
Just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul, and that’s a pain I can do without.

All I needed was a friend to lend a guiding hand
But you turned into a lover, and, mother, what a lover you wore me out
All you did was wreck my bed
And, in the morning, kick me in the head
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more
You led me away from home
‘Cause you didn’t want to be alone
You stole my heart, I couldn’t leave you if I tried

I suppose I could collect my books and get on back to school
Or steal my daddy’s cue and make a living out of playing pool
Or find myself a rock ‘n’ roll band
That needs a helping hand
Oh, Maggie, I wish I’d never seen your face
You made a first-class fool out of me
But I’m as blind as a fool can be
You stole my heart, but I love you anyway

Maggie I wish that I’d never seen your face
I’ll get a ride home
One of these days

13 thoughts on “In My Eyes You Are Everything

  1. I love this song, all his songs really, even though many of them are absurd. It’s his voice, and the emotion he puts into each one… acting, I suppose. But singers are performers too, and no one says every song has to be “real.” It’s cool this one was based on an experience. I laugh when I hear him moaning “some guys have all the luck” on that other song… as if HE hasn’t had all the luck. Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome research on this song and Rod Stewart. I heard the story of “Maggie” a little differently but have no idea if it was true. I like this: ” Stewart has joked that if a DJ hadn’t flipped the single over, he’d have gone back to his old job of digging graves.” Fate was on his side that day lol. The first line of Maggie May has got to be one of the most familiar first lines of any song there ever was. I will try to remember to sing it tomorrow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I enjoyed researching this song, but I tend to agree with what Billy Mac said about this probably only applies to the older music which is what I like best. I am not so sure about all the songs being made today having anything meaningful in them.

      Liked by 1 person

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