Watching a show last night on BBC America about the Rolling Stones made me realize that the Brits have a conflicting identity crisis. When I was at Peabody, I was talking to a British colleague and he told me, "Every Brit thinks he's got a golden pot to piss in." While I would have to agree that they possess a keen sense of nationalistic identity, there is also a tendency to crush anyone who aspires to rise above the mud of every day life. No one must be better than a workaday Union Jack. Brian Eno has stated that the British press and Brits as a whole hate dilettantes, and consequently his work because of the many avenues it has taken. Even Bill Bruford, whom I interviewed in January of this year, told me that when Yes started the whole attitude was, "Well, I wouldn't try that if I were you, sonny." This attitude is pervasive. As comedian Eddie Izzard says, "Dial it down a bit. You're British."
The British press is notorius acidic and destructive when it comes to its own. Peter Gabriel has frequently talked about a "fair slagging" from the Brit press for a number of his albums and projects. Watching this BBC doc on the Stones, this ugly monster raised its head a few times.
One critic said that the Stones stopped being the Stones after Let It Bleed. Really? I think the only good thing I heard was at the end when one of these bobbleheads said, "The Stones are the people's band." In other words, these lads are nothing more than average blokes who, instead of crawling around inside a coal mine - the only decent way to make an honest living, wear funny clothes and play loud music for a living.
I think that it's easy to downplay what the Stones have contributed to music. When we hear the music, we hear basic rock'n'roll and the group has become so infamous and iconic that it's almost impossible to hear the music without prejudice. I tell you, recently I sat down and played along with Wild Horses. I was amazed at all the details and chords that I just hadn't noticed. This song was released in 1971!
The doc had a few funny moments and Richards was always the one with the razor sharp wit.
At one point, they ask Richards in the 70's about his upcoming trial and legal troubles.
Brit press vulture: "What do you think will come of all this?"
Richards, after shrugging: "Maybe we'll get a song out of it." You should have seen Jagger's smile.
That's my boy.