'Maggie May' - Rod Stewart

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Writers: Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton

Producer: Rod Stewart

Recorded: Early 1971

Released: May 1971

Players: Rod Stewart -- vocals, acoustic guitar
Martin Quittenton -- acoustic guitar
Ron Wood -- guitar, bass
Ian McLagan -- organ
Pete Sears -- piano
Mick Waller -- drums
Ray Jackson -- mandolin
Album: Every Picture Tells A Story (Mercury, 1971)

No one, including Rod Stewart, saw the potential of "Maggie May" as a single. Although it has become one of his most successful songs, it was almost left off Every Picture Tells A Story because its theme of a younger man with an older, more experienced woman was considered overly sentimental. It was added because the album seemed too short without it.

"Maggie May" wasn't originally released as a single -- it was actually the B-side to "Reason To Believe." In the liner notes for his Storyteller box set, Stewart wrote, "If it wasn't for a diligent DJ in Cleveland who flipped it over, I would still be digging graves. Some guys have all the luck."

The lyric is based on an experience in Stewart's youth. In 1961, he was trying to sneak in to an annual weekend-long Jazz Festival on an estate in Hampshire, England, when a "well-built older woman" pulled him into her tent. Stewart recalled, "The whole thing didn't last more than 35 seconds."

Stewart found mandolinist Ray Jackson, whose playing lent the track one of its signatures, in a London restaurant, where he did romance songs from the '30s.

Stewart said he's responsible for the way "Maggie May" was constructed musically: "In the studio I would just whistle the parts for them to play. That's one thing I pride myself on, coming up with melody lines for the instrumentals."

Both "Maggie May" and Every Picture Tells A Story hit Number One on their respective charts.