MICK'S BODYTALK
MICK JAGGER: THE GREATEST PERFORMER IN HISTORY
 









When you first walk on(stage), it's really - let me think. I walk out to an empty stage; I'm very confident. This is what I do. I've done it so many times. I'm not at all nervous about going on. It feels very comfortable and like home. But having said that, there's certain feelings that you get, you know: Jesus, all those people! There's a few empty seats sometimes, I see, and you say, Oh, God, how many empty seats? And funny things that you think of - just silly things - and you must not think of those, because as soon as you start thinking, I hope that the heavy rains that we've had in London don't block the gutters up (laughs) and the roof leaks again. (Laughs) It's just - anything can come into your mind, but you have to throw it out because you just have to really concentrate on what you're doing.
  - Mick Jagger, 1995


It's a strange thing... From the audience you feel a tremendous energy. It is directed to - or at - you. It is, you feel, as if they are trying to say what they want from life, or what they want from me - as a person, as a performer. But you do feel they NEED something.

    - Mick Jagger, 1967


I don't understand the connection between music and violence. People are always trying to explain it to me and I just blindly carry on. I just know that I get very aroused by music, but it doesn't arouse me violently. I never went to a rock and roll show and wanted to smash the windows or beat up anybody afterward. I feel more sexual then actually physically violent.

     - Mick Jagger, 1969


Me and Nureyev have flaming rows about whether it takes more talent and discipline to be a ballet dancer or a pop singer. He used to put me down a lot, but I think I've converted him. I told him I would have wanted to dance myself, but I never had the opportunity.

     - Mick Jagger, 1972


It's not really difficult to be a better dancer than I am. I think I'm a terrible dancer, and I'd love to have gone to school and learned it properly, but I don't have the time nor the discipline. That's very kind of (Nureyev to say I'm a terrific dancer), because he's a GREAT dancer. I can't dance a waltz or a quickstep. I can't dance steps. I just leap about, and sometimes it's very ungainly. It's hard dancing while you're singing.

     - Mick Jagger, 1978


It has become apparent to certains persons who did not previously recognize it - critics and the like - that Mick Jagger has perhaps the single greatest talent for putting a song across of anyone in the history of the performing arts. In his movements he has somehow combined the most dramatic qualities of James Brown, Rudolf Nureyev, and Marcel Marceau. He makes all previous movers - Elvis, Sammy Davis, Janis Joplin, and even (saints protect me from sacrilege) the great James B. himself - appear to be waist deep in the grimpenmire. This tradition (of movin' and groovin') had its most modest beginning with Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club in Harlem where he would occasionally strut or slink about in front of the bandstand by way of "illustrating" a number. After each, he would take his bow, mopping his forehead, beaming up his gratitude for the applause as he reverted to his "normal" self for the next downbeat (and invariably a change of pace). The phenomenal thing Jagger has accomplished is to have projected an image so overwhelmingly intense and so incredibly comprehensive that it embraces the totality of his work - so that there is virtually no distinction between the person and the song. This is all the more remarkable when it is realized that there is also virtually no connection between the public, midnight rambler image of Jagger and the man himself...

  - Terry Southerner, writer, 1972


Mick is probably the best thing live on stage. He very rarely stands there and sings a song. He performs every song. James Brown was the same: he would sing immaculately and perform every song with a bit of show in the middle of it. Mick learned a lot of that off people like Brown - it's from a very old school.

  - Charlie Watts, 1998


He used to dance. Now it is a dance with ATHLETICS. It's not vintage Jagger, but something new - Jagger revved up into high gear. The new Jagger onstage has changed him somewhat... What shocked (America) about Jagger was not, in the end, his long hair or his pouty, salubrious lips or his androgeneity, although those certainly cut hard across the grain. What was really upsetting was what he did with his body. This has always been the cutting edge in rock roles, even way before Elvis' pelvis - what men did with their bodies. There's no formula in what Jagger does - at least not one that is apparent. He flops. His joints won't hold. He sticks some part of himself in your face and wiggles whatever is closest. It isn't even the sexuality of the act that's upsetting; he's never shown off his crotch or derrière like every other two-bit lounge act. If anything, what he's flaunted has been pansexuality, a kind of I'll-take-it-all. But even this has been far less devastating than the anarchy of it all. To Jagger, the stage is more than the kind of narrow space used mostly laterally by rockers; it has a dramatic depth to be used choreographically. Jagger's act is part mime, part dance. It has less to do with a display of power - for that you have to go to heavy metal - than with manipulation. There's more sinuousness than raw strength in what he does. And from this comes his real impact. With every move he makes, he seems to be daring the audience to... what? Grab him? Move? Dance? Fight back? It really doesn't matter exactly. He's taunting you to do something...

    - Peter Goddard, The Last Tour (1982)


It's very high adrenalin. If you've ever been in this high-adrenalin situation - like driving a car very fast or being in a championship basketball team in the finals or whatever it was - it's really high adrenalin. Our concerts do have a lot in common with sporting events. I mean, they're held in the same places. And they have this kind of feeling. Obviously, what's lacking is the competition aspect, but there is a certain amount of the same feeling - that you're always present at the event. You know, the event is important... But it's quite hard to describe just in trying to offer a description. I've sometimes tried to write it down. I have written it down - what it's like, what you feel like. But there's so much going on, it's hard unless you're really in a stream-of-consciousness thing. Because there are so many references: Oh, I'm doing this, and I'm doing that, and you're sort of watching yourself doing it. Oh God, look at that girl; she's rather pretty. Don't concentrate on her! But it's good to concentrate on her, she's good to contact one-on-one. Sometimes I try to do that. They're actually real people, not just a sea of people. You can see this girl has come, and she's got this dress on and so on, and so you make good contact with one or two people. And then you make contact with the rest of the band. You might give a look-see if everyone's all right.

     - Mick Jagger, 1995


I get a strange feeling onstage. I feel all this energy coming from an audience. They need

something from life and are trying to get it from us... I entice the audience, of course I do. I do it every way I can think of... What I'm doing is a sexual thing. I dance, and all dancing is a replacement for sex. What really upsets people is that I'm a man and not a woman. I don't do anything more than a lot of girl dancers, but they're accepted because it's a man's world. What I do is very much the same as a girl's striptease dance.
                                                 - Mick Jagger, 1966


At some point in the show, you just lose it. You get such interaction with the audience that it feels really good. And it should be pushed. You should let yourself go. I mean, have those moments when you really are quite out of your brain... It comes in isolated moments. It's just a transcendent moment - I don't know whether you can say it's joyful. Sometimes it can be joyful; sometimes it's just crazy.

                                                 - Mick Jagger, 1995


I'm not afraid to perform. I'm happy performing. I'm at the rehearsal stage out there in the aircraft hanger every day, imagining them all there. Glad that they'll be there!

  - Mick Jagger, 1994, during the Voodoo Lounge tour rehearsals

 
 
 

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