In December 1969, the Rolling Stones closed out the decade — and defeated the Beatles — with their greatest album, Let It Bleed. If the Beach Boys started the decade, the Rolling Stones ended it. It is an album about the death of ideology.
The album is about accepting the failed optimism of popular liberalism after seeing the inherent chaos of human nature. It is a coming-of-age memoir. “Gimme Shelter” is about rape, murder and fear, “Let It Bleed” mentions “cocaine and sympathy” (as opposed to LSD and enlightenment), and the final track “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” shows how the three major topics of sex, drugs, and revolution had become twisted into something destructive and exploitative.
And for that reason, it is the perfect song for Donald Trump to end his speeches with. The post-Cold War pop-liberalism has proven unrealistic, and we must accept that human nature is not what we may have hoped. Here it is set to pictures of liberals crying, immensely relevant a year later.