Stones indulgence

I like to think I’m good at staying up to date with noteworthy Rolling Stones videos, but somehow I missed this ADORABLE video of Mick and Keith talking about their shared flat in London:

I would love more than anything to just listen to them talk about mundane things like carpets and laundry. Horrrrrrendous.

Last time I was back home I packed up a box of Beatles and Stones books from the archives so I could clear out some space in my parents’ garage (Alex and I have a house now, so I can finally fill my place of residence with as many books as I want, muahaha). One of them was Nankering with the Rolling Stones by James Phelge, described as “a hilariously disgusting memoir of living with Mick, Keith, and Brian in a squalid Chelsea flat in 1963.” I almost put it in the donate pile, but figured it might be worth a re-read. And now, inspired by the above video, I’ve had an amusing time flipping through it again. If anyone’s looking for stories from the Edith Grove days, this book is a solid gold mine.

A couple of days later we came home together and found all the pots and pans, as well as the cutlery, neatly arranged on the small kitchen table. They looked gleaming and clean, almost like new.

A few minutes later Judy from downstairs came up and entered the kitchen. “I picked up all your pans and cleaned ’em for you,” she said. “What did you throw them all in the garden for?”

“Because they were dirty,” replied Keith.

“Keith,” she said. “You can’t just throw them out the window if they’re dirty. You have to wash them.”

“We thought it was gonna rain and that would clean them,” I told her.

She pulled a face that told us she thought we were hopeless. We just stared at her and smiled.

Of course, after all this, I turned to YouTube and went down a rabbit hole of early Stones videos. In particular, the early TV performances when they were basically a cover band, like this gem:

Look at those bebes!! Mick is such an effortlessly sexy frontman, ughhh. And lol at Ed Sullivan trying to mimic Mick’s pointing at the end.

Also tucked away somewhere in my parents’ garage is a VHS tape I got from Spin Records with all of the Stones’ Ed Sullivan performances on it. I was obsessed with that VHS for a while. There are some memorable shows in that collection, like when they were forced to change “let’s spent the night together” to “let’s spend some time together,” in which I count at least five eye rolls, and the many examples of Brian Jones playing nonstandard instruments in pop songs (no comment on the sitar and mallet technique). Anyway, I’m getting a little carried away but all of this is to say, I’ve been on an early-Stones kick and it’s been very fun.

Now before I go listen to some 1970s Stones (the best era, although honestly they’re all excellent), here’s some bonus 2021 Jagger content: Mick and his cat Nero ūüėć

I went to a Stones concert and now my life is complete

tattoo-you-600x600Ok, so a little background… Sometime between 8th and 9th grade, after I’d exhausted all the Beatles albums and found myself searching through my dad’s record collection for more old music, I turned to the Rolling Stones. The first album I remember listening to out in the garage was Tattoo You, a mix of pure adrenaline-fueled rock (“Hang Fire” was my favorite) and dreamy, slow-burning ballads that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. Anyway, a few albums and secondhand VHS tapes later, I was hooked. It was like falling in love with the Beatles all over again, except this band had decades of material to catch up on. I went through a particularly fun phase in high school where I went around trying to imitate Keith Richards’ swagger, much to my mom’s horror. And then later, Exile on Main Street became my go-to tour album, and to this day it reminds me looking out the bus window at interstate highways and cornfields and people out on their porches in Mississippi.

Over the last five years or so, I’ve watched at least two Stones tours go by without being able to get tickets (as in, stuck on the Ticketmaster wait page until tix sold out). So when I got word of the tour this year, I was pretty much ready to do anything, including using my mom’s AMEX to get into the presale, blocking off time on my work calendar to buy tickets, and then making my boyfriend drive 500 miles with me to San Diego because it’s the only west coast stop on the tour. And to my infinite happiness, it all worked like a dream! (Don’t worry, I paid my mom back for the tix, and I think Alex had an ok time at the show.)


So that brings us to this past Sunday at the ballpark in San Diego. I have a confession to make here. Two songs in, as the show was just beginning and Mick was singing “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” I may or may not have teared up, JUST A LITTLE, FOR JUST A SECOND. A Rolling Stones concert is not really something to get emotional about, but at that moment they just happened to remind me how I fell in love with music in the first place. It was rock music that did it: the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, all the super famous and not-so-famous bands of the 60s and 70s. My entire musical philosophy can be summed up with that one lyric: It’s only rock ‘n roll, but I like it, OK?! And no matter how many people rag on the Stones for being old men who won’t stop touring, I’m so glad they’re still going, because it gives people like me a chance to experience a little slice of rock history.

Show Highlights

“Midnight Rambler.” This song is epic already, but the live version is a whole ‘nother experience. I kept thinking about the quote from Crossfire Hurricane about how it’s the epitome of Jagger-Richards songwriting. Definitely my favorite part of the show.
Keith’s brain fart. I knew from watching concert videos that Keith always does his few songs after Mick introduces the band, about halfway through. And I was super excited to hear what songs he’d sing. The first one was “Slippin’ Away,” a classic Keef slow jam, followed by some rambling (I literally couldn’t understand a thing the man said, haha). Then he played the first few chords of “Can’t Be Seen” before being reminded by Ronnie that they were supposed to do “Before They Make Me Run,” which is one of my favorites! Yessss. Did not disappoint.
The moves like Jagger. The flailing arms, pointy fingers, and spastic clapping were in full play, and it was a beautiful sight. On top of that, Mick sprinted and power-skipped down the catwalk with more energy than I could probably muster in my entire life. HOW DOES HE DO IT?? Another random observance: I think he enjoys putting on different jackets just so he can rip them off. Which he can totally do, because’s he’s got a hot bod YES I SAID IT.

Other noteworthies: Taking the MTS trolley for the first time, rallying with a bunch of baby boomers, Ronnie’s sparkly shoes, and Mick’s very British, very articulated way of saying “Petco Park.”

There were no lowlights, of course, but I *was* a little disappointed that they didn’t play more Sticky Fingers, as was rumored. I was especially hopeful because they did the whole album at the LA show just a few nights before. But I read part of an interview with Mick that said he was concerned because it has 5 slow songs on it and they were worried that people would use it as a bathroom break. Ummm ok, maybe the basic people would, but without a doubt that would’ve been the highlight of the show for me. I was dying to hear “You Gotta Move” and “Dead Flowers”! “Wild Horses” would’ve been nice, too. They did play “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (cue the stoners in the next row lighting up), “Bitch,” and “Moonlight Mile,” which was amazing.

I got a second wave of uninvited emotion when at the very end, after the extended band had taken their bows, it was just Mick, Keith, Charlie, and Ronnie on the stage, arms around each other, looking like a joyful band of old, scraggly brothers. D’awwww. As long as these guys can keep going and sound good, I sure hope they do.

Supplemental Materials: 1) me doing my best 70’s Keef impression; 2) view from nosebleed seats; 3) a picture from the San Diego Union Tribune of the guys’ final encore (how cute is Charlie with his yellow socks?!)

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The Pillars of Rock & Roll

This past¬†week I was sad to learn that two Rolling Stones sidemen,¬†Bobby Keys and Ian McLagan,¬†had passed away within one day of each other. Mostly what I knew about Bobby was his¬†rip-roaring sax solos and the excerpts from Keith Richards’ book about throwing TVs out of windows, etc. Honestly, some of the stories about Bobby make Keith’s lifestyle sound tame, which is impressive.

I didn’t know as much about Ian McLagan but was happy to learn that¬†he played piano¬†on one¬†of my very favorite songs: “Ooh La La” (The Faces) as well as the Stones album Some Girls. I also read an NPR interview that included this interesting tidbit:

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Wow. Good Guy Pete. What crazy lives these guys led.

Anyway, an article I read recently¬†included this depressing sentence: “The double blow is another reminder that the classic era of rock culture is drawing to a close.” SAY IT AIN’T SO! Sometimes I wonder if¬†classic rock will die out once all its forerunners are gone, like doo wop¬†and swing. I find it hard to believe and very sincerely hope it doesn’t. The good news is that, according to our dearly departed Robin Williams, Keith Richards will outlive us all, in which case ROCK & ROLL¬†WILL NEVER DIE.

R.I.P. 141202-bobby-keys-1709_5ebcae8f252a960c7307c9db99ca1606

Christmas break means more posts like this

So here’s a random thing to know: yesterday, Lauren and I realized that the time it takes to listen to the entire Police discography (we’re “studying” for an upcoming concert) is roughly equal to the time it takes to drive from Bakersfield to Oceanside. For reference, that’s 70-something songs over 190 miles, or about 4 hours driving time. Yeah, I’m pretty impressed too (it’s a lot of time to spend listening to Sting’s voice).

But anyway, as we were driving past miles of Joshua trees and creepy windmills, rewinding to listen to the literary references in “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”, the whole thing made me wonder…

How long would one have to drive to cover, say, the entire Beatles catalog?

[ENTER: Christmas Break Nikki, who suddenly has a lot of time on her hands and wants to spend it all writing weird blog posts!]

I started trying to figure it out while on the drive – which would’ve been a much more lofty goal – but eventually left it until I got home so I could consult the Goog.

To begin, the Beatles recorded 288 songs, 213 of which were original (according to the search I just did [alas, my Beatles knowledge is not vast enough to know this information on my own]). I’m too lazy to sit and add up all the actual albums lengths, so…averaging all the recorded songs out to 3 minutes each (although a lot of the earlier ones were more like 2 minutes), you get 864 minutes, or 14.4 hours, OR, a little less than the distance between:

     РLos Angeles and Denver (Google maps says 14 hours, 33 min)

     РSan Francisco and Vancouver
     РBoston and Chicago

As Spock might say: “Fascinating.”

Also according to the internets, the Rolling Stones recorded 437 songs. I’m going to go a little higher and estimate that the average length of a Stones song is 3.5 minutes (again, pure estimation/laziness). That puts us at 25.5 hours, which could take you from San Diego to New Orleans, San Francisco to Kansas City, or Nashville to Las Vegas.

So the obvious question is…..who wants to road trip with me and find out?? 2014 resolution, maybe?

For the record, I still know nothing of Sting’s solo career, so we will probably have to do this again before the Paul Simon/Sting concert on February 17.

Round 2 of Keith Appreciation

So, this song came up on my itunes shuffle on the way home from work yesterday, and after listening to it on repeat several times to drown out the commotion of the packed subway station, I decided that another Keith Richards Appreciation post was in order.

The above is from Keith’s tour with his band The X-Pensive Winos, sometime in the 90s. (The original song is “Winsome” by Jamaican artist Half Pint, by the way. In case you didn’t know, Keef is all about that rasta life.)
Confession: the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I went through a huge Keef phase, and there was this CD that I’d burned that I listened to literally every night as I fell asleep. It was all the Rolling Stones ballads that KR sings, which are surprisingly sentimental compared to the rest of the Stones canon. I wish I had it now…I can’t remember all the songs on it, but will list a select few as suggested listening.

Note: I’ve taken the liberty of choosing live performances so as to maximize the dichotomy between Keef’s craggy face/hairy chest and the content of the songs:

I read somewhere (his autobiography, probably?) that Keith is naturally very restless/jumpy, and that he used drugs like heroin to “calm down.” After listening to these songs, seems like it did the trick, eh?

It’s a gas, gas, gas

Before I get too deep into my thoughts on Crossfire Hurricane, I’d just like to point out one thing:

Mick Jagger, Accidental Endorser of:

So, last night I watched Crossfire Hurricane, the new documentary about the Rolling Stones. I highly recommend it! It’s full of not-so-glamorous glimpses into the rock & roll life, especially in the 60s and 70s. Not to mention, some great live performances and interview clips.

Some parts that were interesting to me:

At one point, Keith said that “Midnight Rambler” was the “essence of the Jagger-Richards collaboration”…in his opinion, every other song they wrote could’ve been written by someone else, except for “Midnight Rambler” – something about making an opera out of the blues. I thought that was really cool. It’s also held up quite well¬†over time.

Another song in the same vein that I absolutely love is “You Gotta Move”…I mean, watch that and tell me they’re not an amazing blues band.

The bit about Altamont stuck with me too. It’s such a shame how the concert ended, and that the violence was tied to the Stones just because they played the final act. They seem genuinely remorseful about the whole thing. Reading Pete Townshend’s book too, it seems like a lot of bands at the time were “assigned” these reputations from the media (e.g. “The Rolling Stones are the wild and dangerous version of the Beatles” or “The Who are loud destructive lunatics”), when in fact they viewed themselves quite differently.

It’s late and I’m tired, but it’s a holiday weekend so I’m expecting to go a little blog-crazy over the next few days. I’m slowly getting through¬†Who I Am, and have some great quotes to share already. Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader(s?)!

the red light was my mind

While driving up the lonesome I-5 last weekend, I came to realize that my default road-tripping band is the Rolling Stones. Especially the Stones circa 1969-72. Ahhhhh it’s just so good to listen to while driving down a highway in the desert. Perfect examples are the albums Let It Bleed and Exile on Main Street. The Stones are a rock & roll band, but these albums are full of gospel, country, blues (mmmmm blues)…all of which were the inspiration for rock & roll in the first place. I love that the Stones appreciate roots music, and (in my mind), pay tribute to it really well.

Speaking of blues, I have to share this video. It’s an old Robert Johnson song that was covered by the Stones in the late 60’s, and this is them doing it again in 1995. Personally I like this version even better than the 60’s cut; it just oozes so much wonderful blues:

Also, my dad sent me a link about Keef’s new book, which comes out next week(!!!). I’m so buying it the day it comes out.

Virtual Choir

We watched this in my Music Tech class today and I found it fascinating. Each individual person recorded their own part and they were all overdubbed to create a virtual choir from around the world. We were trying to figure out how they got rid of all the extra noise that surely must have existed from all those different recordings. Nevertheless, it’s really really cool:


Also, the reissue of “Exile on Main Street” comes out today! This is a big deal because – if you did not already know – Exile is my favorite album EVER. It’s just so gritty and raw (recorded mostly in the basement of Keith Richards’ French estate) and would accompany a Deep South roadtrip perfectly.

Some of my favorite songs:
Loving Cup
Ventilator Blues
Torn & Frayed

Also, the remaster has 10 new tracks which, from what I’ve heard, are no less legit and awesome than those chosen for the original cut.
New song: Plundered My Soul

I want to add more but have to go to tabla now. So just enjoy this Stonesy pic instead:

and I won’t forget to put roses on your grave

I can’t believe I’ve had this blog for nearly a year and haven’t done a Stones post yet. What is wrong with me?? I also consciously remembered Mick’s birthday and failed to do a celebratory post, so I am going to make up for that right…now.

What I love about the Stones is that they’ve covered so many genres, and they do it so well. ESPECIALLY blues. They are also great at country rock, which is one of the main reasons Exile On Main Street is my favorite album ever. That being said, I feel that a shameless video-post is in order, to demonstrate the versatility and pure wicked awesomeness that is the Rolling Stones:

BLUES: You Gotta Move
Keith is god.

FUNK: Hot Stuff
70s clothes = THE BEST!

DISCO: Miss You
Mick can wear (or not wear) whatever he wants and get away with it, haha.

COUNTRY: Dead Flowers
This is one of my favorite songs of all time.

100% ROCK & ROLL: Rip This Joint

I could go on…old standards, 60s pop, psychedelia, soul, gospel…but I need to end this before I spend all night on YouTube. More to come later, because the Stones definitely deserve some love!