What a Drag It Is Getting Old

The 1966 Rolling Stones song ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ was released on their album Aftermath, which was the band’s fourth British and sixth American studio album.  The single charted at #8 in the US and it was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.  The song deals with the popularity of prescribed tranquilizers among housewives, who abused these prescription drugs to get her through the day and it warns of the potential hazards of overdose or addiction.  Jagger said that he got the inspiration from things that are happening around him in everyday life.  The song contains the idea of addiction, overdose and death, which can happen with any drug that is misused or overused.  At this time Miltown was being prescribed for everything from severely ill mental patients to recovering alcoholics to comfortable middle-class people who sometimes felt anxious.  It was an alternative for mentally ill people instead of going to a therapist to manage the worst of their symptoms.

Since the late 1800s, drug manufacturers had been hunting for a new, non-addictive anti-anxiety medication.  Opiates produced disastrous results and barbiturates were also written off as being too addictive.  Doctors began prescribing anti-psychotic drugs known as phenothiazines, but those drugs triggered severe side-effects such as uncontrollable facial movements.  In the 1950s, BZDs, or benzodiazepines were discovered.   Miltown, a Happy Pill was launched in the 1950s, and it was the first “blockbuster” psychotropic drug in the US.  In 1956, the Food and Drug Administration approved Librium, which was followed by Valium in 1963.  Valium went on to become the pharmaceutical industry’s first $100 million brand, as it rapidly became a staple in medicine cabinets, as common as toothbrushes and razors.

Brian Jones played the sitar on this track and it was one of the first pop songs to use the instrument, with the first being the Beatles ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’ that was released a year earlier.  Brian Jones was the founder and original leader of the Rolling Stones.  He was one of the first people in Britain to play slide guitar and his love of the blues was at the heart of what he and the rest of The Rolling Stones were all about when they started out.  His musicianship, especially in the early days of the band, added so much to the group that the early Stones’ singles were propelled into the pop charts.  He was the original rock star with his fashion sense and his hairstyle, that appealed to everyone everywhere.  Many people considered him to be a genius for his multi-instrumentalist ability, being able to play anything that he picked up.  When Jagger and Richards discovered that Jones was being paid more money than everyone else in the group, they decided to take control of it.   Brian Jones announced his departure from the Rolling Stones on June 9, 1969 saying that they no longer saw eye-to-eye and that he wanted to play his kind of music, which was different from what the Stones were doing.

A business manager who does not have their client’s best interests in mind can always take advantage of a group, especially if they don’t read the contract.  Allen Klein managed the Rolling Stones and he retained ownership of the band’s entire recorded music catalogue during the years from 1965-70, which many consider to be the Stones’ best era.  All of the Stones’ songs before 1971 are owned by their former label, ABKCO, which Allen Klein founded.  Mick Jagger felt that they were being cheated by Klein and the Rolling Stones spent two decades suing him for what they considered his improper dealings.  In the 1960s, the income tax rate was approximately 83%; added to that could be a 15% supertax, meaning the British government might take up to 98 cents out of every dollar someone earned.  Klein was going to handle all of their money problems, but the savvy businessman turned out to be a swindler.  The Stones thought he was handling their money and making more for them by investing it, but they didn’t think to ask him what happened with the money and he never said, so he could keep the interest for himself.  All the royalties (both publication and copyright royalties) are somehow divided between ABKCO and the Stones.

What a drag it is getting old

“Kids are different today,” I hear every mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill, there’s a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

“Things are different today,” I hear every mother say
Cooking fresh food for her husband’s just a drag
So she buys an instant cake, and she burns a frozen steak
And goes running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper
And two help her on her way, get her through her busy day

Doctor, please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more

What a drag it is getting old

“Men just aren’t the same today,” I hear every mother say
They just don’t appreciate that you get tired
They’re so hard to satisfy, you can tranquilize your mind
So go running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper

And four help you through the night, help to minimize your plight
Doctor, please, some more of these

Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old

“Life’s just much too hard today,” I hear every mother say
The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
They just helped you on your way, through your busy dying day

Written for Thursday Inspiration #130 Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag where the prompt is drag.

11 thoughts on “What a Drag It Is Getting Old

  1. Kids have always been different. Nothing really changes. Men are no different than they have always been. Life has always been hard.

    I sometimes think that the easier we make physical living, the more difficult psychological living gets to balance it out. It is always the same level of difficulty overall. Perhaps it is not life that is difficult but people and people never change.

    Great post. The Stones are among the Great Philosophers of the modern age.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didnt know that valium was only introduced in the 1960’s. My psychiatrist as a rule won’t prescribe benzos, but if you go in the hospital for a time she’ll give them to you while your in there.

    Liked by 1 person

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