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Rolling Stones drop ‘Living in a Ghost Town,’ 1st song in 8 years

Official music video for The Rolling Stones' 'Living in a Ghost Town'

The Rolling Stones are back with their first original song in eight years. It’s called Living in a Ghost Town and comes as a complete surprise to fans of the legendary British rock group.

On Thursday morning, each of the band members — excluding longtime drummer Charlie Watts — took to their social media accounts announcing the imminent release of the four-minute rock track with their own personal videos.

“Let’s cut a long story short,” said guitarist Keith Richards. “We cut this track well over a year ago in L.A. for part of a new album and then s–t hit the fan. So Mick [Jagger] and I decided that this one really needed to go to work right now.”

Living in a Ghost Town comes at an extremely pertinent time as the lyrics seem to reflect on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Life was so beautiful / Then we all got locked down / Feel like a ghost / Living in a ghost town,” sings frontman Mick Jagger in the first verse.

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It’s at least clear that the Stones made no mistake in releasing the song when they did.

“We were in the studio, the Stones, recording some new material before the lockdown and [Living in a Ghost Town is] one song that I thought would resonate through the times that we’re living in,” Jagger, 76, said on Twitter.
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Reflecting heavily on the song’s lyrics, the Living in a Ghost Town music video features candid footage of empty streets all across the globe during the mass lockdown of the pandemic.

As well as London and L.A., several shots are included from Toronto, including an empty TTC streetcar, an abandoned Queen St. West intersection and, of course, the eerily quiet area around the CN Tower and the neighbouring Rogers Centre.

Additionally, shots of the band can be seen recording in the studio.

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Living in a Ghost Town serves as the first taste of music from the Stones since the 2012 fan favourite, Doom and Gloom. Richards, 76, suggested it will be part of an upcoming studio album, which is “an ongoing thing.”

The “haunting” ballad — as described by guitarist Ronnie Wood — is jam-packed with groove, melody and a signature harmonica solo by Jagger. His vocals seem to have received a small hint of digital auto-tune treatment as well. He is 76, after all.

The song debuted on Apple Music’s Beats 1 show at 5 p.m. GMT (12 p.m. ET) and was followed by an interview with host Zane Lowe where Jagger addressed Paul McCartney‘s recent comments that the Beatles are better than the Stones.

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According to the Stones, the new track was recorded between both Los Angeles and London and completed in isolation.

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The surprise release came days after the band’s appearance on One World: Together at Home — the musical benefit show put on by Global Citizen and the World Health Organization (WHO) on April 18.

The band performed their 1968 hit You Can’t Always Get What You Want from the comfort of their individual homes. Because he doesn’t have a kit in his home, longtime drummer Charlie Watts hilariously played air drums along to a backing track.

It’s unclear when the Stones plan to release the followup to their 2016, all-covers studio album Blue & Lonesome.

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Living in a Ghost Town is now available through all major streaming platforms.

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Two months ahead of the long-awaited leg of their extensive No Filter world tour, the Stones postponed the 15-date North American concert tour set to run between May and July.

The band members — who are all in their 70s and prone to the life-threatening effects of COVID-19 — issued a statement to their social media channels on March 17 confirming the news.

On May 12, the Beast of Burden rockers were set to make a pit stop in Vancouver for a sole Canadian gig — the first since Canada Rocks with the Rolling Stones last summer.

Small town Ontario hits big stage with Rolling Stones concert
Small town Ontario hits big stage with Rolling Stones concert

Those affected by the postponement can revisit Global News’ coverage of Canada Rocks with the Rolling Stones — the 2019 Canada Day weekend concert at Burl’s Creek in Oro-Medonte, Ont., where tens of thousands of fans amassed to see the Miss You rockers.

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The 2020 No Filter tour dates have not yet been rescheduled.

READ MORE: Canada Rocks with the Rolling Stones — Here’s what happened at the show

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

What’s cancelled or postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic?
What’s cancelled or postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic?

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca