The above photo is of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at the infamous Villa Nellcote Villefranche sur-Mer-été during the recording sessions for the album Exile on Main Street. I just finished Robert Greenfield’s “Ain’t it Time We Said Goodbye” which is about the Stones Farewell Tour in England in ’71, their subsequent tax retreat to the south of France, and then the Stones 1972 Tour of the Americas. Read between the lines of this and you’ll get a contact high from all the heroin and cocaine. These are lives that are careening out of control (except for maybe Mick) and the casualties are immense.
As noted in this blog before, my musical taste is always careening out of control as well. Something might be in favor for a month or two or even a decade and then I’ll just ditch it. I used to play a lot of what’s called progressive metal for over a decade and now I can barely listen to the stuff. My classical binges come and go like a reoccurring fever, can be gone for months and then I get that craving for Barber’s Adagio for Strings. In high school and college I played a ton of Beatles. Between that and rock radio I heard so much of the Fab Four I didn’t need to hear any of it ever again. Well, there was a brief resurgence in the late 80s. Another one in the early 00s or whenever the CDs were remastered. But you get the idea. My taste is ever fluid.
The latest turn in my evolution is rock played a little loose. I’ve always been a sucker from rock played loud n’ sloppy but with a ton of passion. These days I’m going in deeper. A week or so ago my friend Thundering Bear mentioned playing Ryan Adams and the Cardinals on a drive into Colorado. It’s a coincidence because I’ve been playing a fair amount of Ryan Adams lately. And John Hiatt. The Faces. Warren Haynes new album with Railroad Earth. Bob Dylan, the Band. I have the new Keith Richards CD playing right now.
I downloaded an old photo of the Stones leaning up against a car, guitars at their heels. Those axes made me long for that Richards/Jones interplay so I played Between the Buttons and then started drifting into the sixties some more. Ronmac, a good friend of mine on Progressive Ears recently sent me a giant box of CDs burned from bootlegs in his collection. Nine discs of the Beatles playing live, Jimi Hendrix at Royal Albert Hall and at Berkeley. Just some incredible music and damn, I owe him now. The Beatles sound so raw, muscular. Not the blurring power of the Stones or the punky wallup of the early Who or Kinks, but a band that could have held their own. It’s just a revelation.
I took Bob Dylan’s big box of the Basement Tapes and using the two-disc set as a guide, make a playlist on my PC of the best takes from those sessions. It’s loose, organic, heartfelt and fun as hell. My enjoyment of Dylan has waxed and waned over the years. I finally started paying attention again around the time of the Wonder Boys movie, when I realized that those songs illuminating Grady Tripp’s plight were something I could deeply relate to. And now with my latest trend Dylan is even more important.
My iPad is now loaded up with more books on those seminal days of rock music: a couple books on the Beatles, Ray Davies’ autobiography, Pete Townshend’s, a couple accounts of the Stones’ mayhem, and three or four on Dylan. I should hunt something down on The Band as well come to think of it. But as fascinating as the reading is and the enjoyment of discovering a deeper knowledge of this stuff the important thing is listening to the music. In a way I’m going back to my roots, the music I heard before I was even pubescent but aware that something else was out there. Something free and dirty and revolutionary, something my parents hated and didn’t understand, something that only I was just on the cusp of relation to. This is probably a phase that’s going to stick around.