Sometimes a Mick Jagger quote makes your day

With the Post, on his performance this week at the White House:

Nearly every artist who’s performed for this administration has said they were nervous before going on stage. But you didn’t seem nervous at all.

I don’t want to sound blasé . . . but every gig is a gig, right? If you’re rehearsed, you don’t get nervous. That’s my thing. I only get nervous when I don’t know what I’m doing.

To end the day: Country Jagger

The Stones mocking country music and writing a great country song at the same time. Here’s to Mick Jagger for being exactly who he is. No worries, mamas. You let your babies grow up to be cowboys because they won’t do this. The rest of us non-cowboys, we’ll just sing dirty.

I was driving home early Sunday morning through Bakersfield
Listening to gospel music on the colored radio station
And the preacher said,
“You know, you always have the Lord by your side.”

And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran
Twenty red lights in his honor
Thank you, Jesus… thank you, Lord.

No stranger to the roof

How I had never heard the Stones’ Moonlight Mile before earlier this month, I have no idea. If this discovery isn’t confirmation and criticism that I need satellite radio, I don’t know what is. A school class would vote this song most likely to be my best friend at this time of night.

I’ve been watching cowboy movies lately, A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More to follow my spring’s enraptured The Good, the Bad and the Ugly night. Color Westerns with true emotion-seeking and artistry tug the moon closer and add a couple miles of visibility to the night. I know how these movies in particular are comments on trust, violence and the varieties and decisions of righteousness. But while you sleep with your hand on your holster or, beyond an oil lamp or two, need to wait for dawn to see what happens next, the moon is your company.

To look at our work and lives as elemental is helpful, to me. I know I talk a lot about flow and process, but the way the light falls or ignites or sits matters too — or maybe matters more. From a Tables for Two:

If anything is remarkable about this restaurant — where the decor (subway tile, ersatz Emeco chairs) seems pieced together from various failed downtown eateries — it’s the giant aperture in the ceiling. In clement weather, the hole is left open for ventilations and a view. At the first hint of rain, though, somebody goes scrambling up a tall ladder to move the skylight cover back into place. On a sultry July evening, a young waitress seemed unfazed by the prospect of such an ascent. “I’m no stranger to the roof,” she said, with a shrug. She was new to the world of food service, having recently left a position with the Otis Elevator Company.

Also: My favorite Exile songs of yesterday

Everyone’s choosing their favorite Exile songs. Jimmy Fallon had bands playing theirs, and the NPR piece has been sitting in my browser tabs for days. It’s hard to argue against Tumbling Dice as the world’s choice — two weeks ago, I spent half an hour listening to it on repeat — and the album’s opening set is so monster as to bias any listener subtly against the second half. So, I’m going with my favorite Exile songs of yesterday alone: All Down the Line and I Just Want to See His Face.

On the latter’s merit, an All Music Guide mini-essay is perfection:

… “I Just Want to See His Face” sounds ancient and from another planet; a swampy, stompy gospel song hat was recorded to intentionally sound as if it is a field recording document of a long-ago church basement revival meeting. … The inspired lyric suggests surrendering in the midst of trouble and finding the spirit, getting into the mystic, as Van Morrison would say, and letting go of any intellectualizing about religion; the comfort that comes from a shoulder to cry on: “Sometimes you ain’t got nobody and you want somebody to love/Then you don’t want to walk and talk about Jesus/You just want to see His face.”


Plundered his song, but I like it

The best add to Exile on Main Street‘s re-release is Plundered My Soul. Previously bought on Record Store Day and played in this space, the song has gotten love from Casey and other friends. When’s the last time we all talked about a new (sort of new) Stones song? It’s cool.

But something I’ve loved alongside the discussion is how the song’s history has slowly gathered exposure on the Web. Glorious Noise picked up on re-recording mentions in March, and Stones message boards rumbled with rumors. When Plundered hit a few weeks ago, GloNo surfaced the board reactions: The whole vocal was new! The site claimed the vocals came in 2009, but sourcing wasn’t strong.

In recent days, though, we’re receiving Mick confirmation. USAT:

Varying amounts of guitar, vocals and percussion sealed other cracks, with results seamless enough to fool Jagger’s friends.

The additions “are in the style of Exile and quite believable,” he says. “Not that I was trying to fib about it, but when I played it for people and they said, ‘Oh, you found it like that?,’ I said, ‘Uh, yeah, yeah.’ It was a bit strange finishing songs 40 years later.”

Bare-boned piano ballad River required lyrics and vocals. Both Jagger and former guitarist Mick Taylor made fresh contributions to the caustic midtempo Plundered.

“We were not on the original,” Jagger says. “Obviously, we were off in a bar somewhere when it was recorded. I asked (Taylor) to come back and do overdubs. It really makes the track complete.”

Charlie Watts talks to Rolling Stone this week about the changes, “My only criticism of the new ones is that the voice sounds like it was done yesterday.” In the Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot calls the added sound “a misguided attempt to update an album that needs no updating.”

But Kot interviews Jagger a bit, and the text is fascinating. “I started from scratch on vocals,” Jagger says. “There was nothing in terms of melody or lyrics.” No lyrics! Later, Jagger notes Plundered‘s preserved music was the opposite — “very together, no mistakes, no messing about, very arranged, very thought out, obviously very together.”

I’m glad to hear about the lyrics because I’d been wondering.

After you hear the vocals are new, it’s obvious. The tone is richer at mid-tempo, more consistent with modern Jagger — he’s a gentleman now — than his ragged Exile-era singing. But the lyrics have had me thinking in the shower. It’s easy to start singing Plundered My Soul in the shower and find myself in Forty Licks ’02 cut Stealing My Heart. “I thought you were dinner / but you were the shark” fits well the story of “I thought you wanted my money, but you plundered my soul…”

But I like it. While I wish the Stones would dump all the Exile tapes on the Web and let their hardcore fans build wild mixes for the rest of us, at least we have one good song here. Aging Mick may be baroque to young Mick’s broke, but these days, if half a songwriting process can give results this good, there’s life in the band yet. Plunder the vaults.

Once you don’t learn, you don’t learn

Via SPL, Little Steven gives Rolling Stone advice for young bands:

I spent half my life convincing young bands to not skip that club phase, because they’re all skipping it now. The Beatles were a bar band for, what, four or five years? I tell bands, are you better than them? How do you learn how to play songs? If you can’t play someone else’s songs you can’t learn how to write songs. You can’t learn from listening to the fucking radio these days. You can learn how to be mediocre. That’s what we need! More mediocrity. Not only were the Beatles a bar band, they did covers for five albums after that! Stones too. People need to get a grip on how to do that. It’s a craft. It has to be learned. You aren’t born with it. Nobody is born great. Nobody. All of a sudden you have an entire two generations that don’t do it. They suffer for it. Once you don’t learn, you don’t learn. You may get better at your thing, but you’ll never be great.

The Covers Project: Covered by the Beatles. Covered by the Stones. Obvious in what we know to be the results but cool to hear it play out track by track: How the bands built differently from their cover work, some you may know but many more obscure. For the Beatles, the work is technically foundational; for the Stones; it’s technically and sonically.

(Full disclosure: In Beatles vs. Stones, this blog has long gone Stones.)