LIKE A ROLLING STONE

*Warning…adult language ahead

      This leisurely Saturday after Thanksgiving I’ve been playing on the computer, mostly reading and commenting on various other blogs. I’ve had the TV on for some football but flipping channels I encountered a Rolling Stones concert film from 1982, Let’s Spend The Night Together. It’s been followed by Shine a Light, which was Martin Scorsese’s documentation of a 2006 concert at New York’s Beacon Theater as a benefit for one of Bill Clinton’s charitable endeavors. Yesterday evening was time for Ladies and Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones.

                I’ve watched other Stones’ films or clips and I saw them in person in Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium in 1995, the Voodoo Lounge Tour. On my MP3 I have more Stones music than songs from any other artists.

                The movie  has only added to my conviction that The Rolling Stones are the greatest band rock and roll has ever generated. I mean the argument ends before it even starts.

                Now few of the songs they’ve produced since 1985 or so have approched the level of their work from say 1965 to 1975. I mean you have Satisfaction, Gimme Shelter, Jumpin Jack Flash (It’s a gas gas gas), Honky Tonk Woman, Brown Sugar, Street Fighting Man, and even covers of such tunes as Not Fade Away and The Harlem Shuffle. And there’s another 50 or so I could listen to just about any time but you know, You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

             But watching this last film is a reminder of what electrifying performers they are and I don’t mean were. The star of the set is the ornate background of the theater itself. Other than some lighting effects it is all Stones’ music and the boys and a few side men added for this show are in top form. Plus Buddy Guy, Christina Aguilera and Jack White put in appearances, thus spanning generations and genres both.

                 I mean I was a Beatles fan. But while they meandered into mysticism and Lennon and McCartney wrote a number of ageless songs, they were never DANGEROUS.. Jerry Lee Lewis was Dangerous. ( And rumor has it that was truly so to some of his wives). Chuck Berry was thought to be DANGEROUS by the U.S. Government, especially to young white girls

                  Many of the metal groups were dangerous mostly to hotel rooms. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin among a litany of too many names were mainly dangerous to themselves. U2 is one of my favorites but I’ve never looked at them as dangerous though they have sung of true mortal danger in their homeland and elsewhere.

                      Rappers? First of all Billy Joel (who is dangerous only to trees alongside the road) did not mean rap when he sang  “it’s all rock and roll to me.” But if you want to call their rhymes, which any reasonably lucid third grader could come up with in his sleep, rock and roll, they mostly pose a danger to each other, witness Tupac Shakur. Sure, some of them were thugs back on the block, but to others the block meant the traditional suburban cul-de-sac.

                 The Stones? It’s a cliche but search Webster’s for the definition of sneer and you’ll find an array of photos of Mick and the boys. They always looked as if they would invade your home and punch, your nose, fuck your women and steal your wallet, with the verbs and their objects in that phrase  interchangeable.

                 I mean you looked at the Rolling Stones faces and intuitively knew that the only way they would ever lose their virginity and have an active sex life was rape and groupies, sometimes both. Proof? Got it!

                Late in 1969, after Woodstock, another music festival in Altamont, California featured The Rolling Stones as the closing act. Another three days of peace, love and music? How about one day of music, chaos and murder? The Hells Angels (little chance for peace there from the get go) provided security for the event. Unfortunately there was no security to protect Meredith Hunter from the Angels and he was stabbed to death, though he was trying to storm the stage armed with a gun. A full account of Altamont on Wikipedia is here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Free_Concert

           The Altamont concert was recorded for posterity as Gimme Shelter. It did not depict the Stones in a very good light. But a subsequent 1972 documentary was even more negative. Following the Stones on tour it presented scenes of drug use, Keith nodding out, Mick masturbating and a roadie gang bang of a groupie on their plane whose participation may not have been entirely voluntary. That movie is titled Cocksucker Blues and is not widely available for legal reasons. Read about that here:

http://www.subcin.com/csblues.html

               That the members of the band have managed to branch out in their sex lives to beautiful models, European actresses/photographers, and alleged other pairings involving Keith and Mick with either David Bowie or each other is even more indication they sure as hell ain’t The Osmond Family, closer to the Manson family maybe.

               And who else could create Sympathy For The Devil and personify Lucifer save for Michael Philip Jagger himself.

               But the danger and the alcohol and the drugs and the sex and the dangerous combination of the alcohol, drugs and sex are secondary to the music and merelyadd to the Stones’ mystique. Ultimately their reputation and legacy lie in their music. It is all rock and roll. Even their country tinged songs are rock and roll. Do you recall any sentimental ballads associated with the Rolling Stones? Okay, Wild Horses and Angie both come close But the vast majority of Jagger-Richards songs are balls out, hard-driving, beat heavy, danceable, partyable tunes worthy of Mick’s perpetual spastic strut and Keith’s whomping guitar.

             Shine A Light, shot in 2006 when Jagger was 63 (I’m 63) had him all over the stage and his re-entry for Sympathy, wearing a dark cape, and echoing the “OOH OOH’s from the ecstatic crowd was the epitome of all that is the Stones. The entire show was a thrilling performance that could rarely be matched in energy, presentation, kick-ass guitar licks, and pure joy by any rock and roll band on any stage during any phase in their existence.

              The Rolling Stones…….the greatest ROCK N ROLL band the world has known. They demonstrate that a life wasted by sex drugs and rock n roll is a life truly worth living.

               

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