“Emotional Rescue” is a song by the English rock ‘n roll band, The Rolling Stones. It was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and is featured on their 1980 album Emotional Rescue.
Recorded between June and October 1979, “Emotional Rescue” is a disco-influenced number, somewhat similar to the band’s 1978 hit “Miss You”. The song is notable as one of the earliest songs by the group to show the growing rift between Jagger and Richards. Although Richards plays guitar and added backing vocals towards the end of this track, he is noted to not have liked the direction in which Jagger was trying to take the band with disco-like compositions, although this may have been exaggerated by the press and Richards’ hard-rock-oriented image.
Mick wrote the song on an electric piano and from the beginning it was sung in falsetto (similar to Marvin Gaye’s lead vocal on his 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up”). When the song was brought into the studio they kept the electric piano and falsetto lead. With Ronnie Wood on bass and Charlie Watts on drums they worked out the song. They then added the saxophone. Bobby Keys plays the saxophone part. Bass guitarist Bill Wyman plays synthesizer on the record, while Jagger and Ian Stewart play electric piano. Wyman’s synthesizer can be heard faintly during the verses on the right channel/speaker and plays a simple pattern of a few notes using a string-synth set up.
Jagger said the song was about “a girl who’s in some sort of manhood problems”, not that she was going crazy but she’s “just a little bit screwed up and he wants to be the one to help her out”.
Released as the album’s lead single on 20 June 1980, “Emotional Rescue” was well received by some fans. Other fans of the Rolling Stones’ work took note of the change in direction and were disappointed by it. Reaching #9 on the UK Singles Chart and #3 in the US., “Emotional Rescue” became popular enough to feature on all of the band’s later compilation albums.
Despite touring extensively since the song’s release in 1980, the Stones had never performed the track in concert until May 3, 2013, when the Stones debuted the song in their set list with a slightly different arrangement, during the band’s first show of the 2013 leg of the 50 & Counting… tour, in Los Angeles, California.
Two music videos were produced to promote the single; one shot on traditional video, and one shot with thermal imaging.
Mick Jagger–lead vocals, electric piano
Keith Richards–electric guitar
Ronnie Wood–bass guitar
Ian Stewart–electric piano