Maybe most listeners perhaps did not imagine “Maggie May” with strings. But, someone did. It is that kind of thinking that has brought about “Stop Loving Her Today,” the new album from Rod Stewart. The recording will feature new material plus orchestral re-workings of Stewart’s classic songs. Rolling Stone reported on the release yesterday. “Stop Loving Her Today” is scheduled for release Nov. 22, 2019.
Stewart’s work follows a long line of work by other artists that have been re-arranged and revised using orchestral or symphonic ensembles. Performers such as Tupac, The Smiths, Metallica and others have had their songs re-worked into classical musical masterpieces.
But why does this recording matter for Stewart now, and for his body of work? The easiest answer might be that it is an idea whose time has come. Listening to some of Stewart’s classic work, audiences can hear how strings can be used to amplify certain parts. Appreciating Stewart’s work again creates an opportunity for his fans to be open-minded about the forthcoming album.
“Maggie May” by Rod Stewart, a masterpiece of 20th century rock ‘n’ roll
Each Stewart fan will have his or her own favorite from “Stop Loving Her Today.” But some are looking forward to hearing “Maggie May” as an orchestra piece. The song is significant as a rock ‘n’ roll tune because of its style and its lyrics. The terse jangly, the strident, unabashed drums and the raunchy, but humorous lyrics (that include a reference to joining a rock ‘n’ roll band) all make “Maggie May” a classic.
Released in 1971, “Maggie May” is a symbol of rock ‘n’ roll radio. Of course, it didn’t take long for more mainstream stations to start playing the song. The appeal is almost universal. The narrator is unashamed of anything, from the age of his lover, to her looks (“the morning sun when it’s in your face really shows your age”), her prowess and her treatment of him (“all you do is wreck my bed/and in the morning kick me in the head”) and overall, his attachment. Given the way the narrator describes Maggie May, it would seem that he wouldn’t be sad that their relationship is ending. But he is. And he tries to figure out what to do next. His choices, based on the narrator’s tone as he describes them, are not great. He could “collect his books” and go back to school, or “steal” his dad’s pool cue and make a living playing pool.
The world of the narrator and his older woman seems to unfold like a novel, as the characters come alive through speakers large and small. Stewart’s trademark voice, a raspy tenor that sings narrative songs so well is put to good use here. It matters little if Stewart is singing disco-type songs (“Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”), or about modern day Romeos and Juliets (“Young Turks”) or giving advice to children (“Forever Young”), Stewart’s voice imparts a heartfelt quality into everything he sings. That unique aspect is probably what is propelling the enthusiasm about “Stop Loving Her Today.”