“Start Me Up”: The Song That Never Stops

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Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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Last night, the popular music competition The Voice opened its new season with all four celebrity judges (Adam Levine of Maroon 5, CeeLo Green, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton) performing a version of the Rolling Stones classic, “Start Me Up.” (For a full recap of the show, click here.) It’s the latest example of the song’s enduring popularity.

This summer, “Start Me Up” was used in a promotional campaign by Omega, a watchmaker that was the “Official Timekeeper” of the 2012 Summer Olympics.  Far from the only time it was used in advertising, the song was first licensed to Microsoft for a commercial promoting their launch of Windows 95. In 1995, they also licensed the song out to an international Volkswagen ad (in Spanish). VW sponsored the Stones’ European leg of the Voodoo Lounge tour that year, and “Start Me Up” was used in a commercial to promote that partnership as well.

Despite its durability, “Start Me Up” hasn’t been covered as much as “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” or “Under My Thumb.” Still, there are a few interesting remakes out there:  reggae legends Toots & The Maytals have recorded a ska version of the song for a tribute called Paint It Black: A Reggae Tribute To The Rolling Stones. And on the other side of the stylistic map, “The Folksmen,” a fictional group from the 2003 Christopher Guest “mockumentary” A Mighty Wind, covered it as well (it didn’t make it to the film, but it is on the soundtrack).

The Stones themselves have recorded a number of versions of the song, as it has remained a staple of their concerts since its original release on 1981’s Tattoo You. You can hear live versions of the song from 1982’s “Still Life” (American Concert 1981), 1991’s Flashpoint, 2004’s Live Licks and 2008’s Shine A Light. After all, no one does Rolling Stones songs better than the lads themselves.

Brian Ives, CBS Local 

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