Ahead of their highly anticipated new record Hackney Diamonds, The Rolling Stones follow up lead single “Angry” with the epic, classic rock n’ roll and soul-infused “Sweet Sounds of Heaven” featuring Lady Gaga on vocals and Stevie Wonder on keys. It is a rare event in modern music in which not two, but three of the greatest to ever do it have come together to meet a common goal.
In typical Gaga fashion, she couldn’t help herself from going on a tangent while gushing over her experience. “I was in the studio at Henson preparing for Joker… and someone said, ‘Mick wants to see you,’ she said in a statement. “I saw Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Stevie Wonder… while Andrew Watt smiled marveling at their unreleased album. I sat down on the floor, my back against a Rhodes- someone handed me some headphones and eventually a mic. Mick was towering over me smiling and saying, ‘Go on and do your thing then.’”
She went on to give a performance that tested, and surpassed, the high bar that she has set for herself throughout her illustrious career. Her versions of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” at Lincoln Center and “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You” at the Kennedy Center in tribute to Sting are two of her most iconic performances that highlighted her musical adaptability, but on “Sweet Sounds…,” it is like she has aged 20 years and traveled back in time to the 1960s at the same time.
Mick Jagger, at points, is undecipherable yet supremely quintessential… the old King still respectfully claiming his throne, as he trades improv lines with Gaga. Add Stevie Wonder adlibbing with Gaga on the seven-minute edit and it’s a wrap. “Let no woman or child go hungry tonight / Please protect us from the pain and the hurt, yeah / I smell the sweet scents / Sweet scents of Heaven.”
The song is bold from start to finish, but one passage stands out. Jagger and Gaga, one an everlasting presence and the other an heir to the throne, sing about their desire to go out with dignity… to enjoy the fruits of their labor while they still can: “No I’m not, no goin down in some dusty motel / And I’m not goin down in the dirt / I’m gonna laugh, I’m gonna cry / Eat the bread, drink the wine.”