PART II: The Seventies
Strangely, the popular conception of the Stones remains a sort of late-60s marquee of marauding pirates and huns and vandals and dopers. And worse... But the role of the Stones in the 70s and 80s has not been thoroughly examined. The 60s Stones - they're still the ones written about and discussed and celebrated or cursed. Sure, the 60s Stones were rebels, scruffs, bad boys pissing on garage walls and being arrested every other day. Would you let your daughter marry one? But that passed quickly and was not an image that was accurate. The Stones' image was created by their handlers out of whole cloth in the 60s and then staunchly maintained by their enemies, their supporters, and the press, long after the Stones themselves became solid middle-to-upper class burghers whose values mirrored those of any upwardly mobile nouveau riche stockbroker in Dallas who coveted comfort and flashy cars and nice threads and expensive women and quality drugs and posh restaurants and all that package...
I think a lot of young people have started something and we're never going to finish it. I think maybe kids went too far in their faith in it. They expected it to be everything, to express all they feel and do. (In England, the mood's) been gone for two or three years. We're in for a few slow years here.
In 1971, I certainly wasn't thinking, Oh, it's a new page or The '60s are over. Because the '60s were very different at the beginning than they were at the end. I had no sense of that decade in that way. I suppose in hindsight, you can see certain formations and changes in society - they're discernible. But so what? The '50s were incredibly different at the beginning than they were at the end. I remember '51 and it was a lot different than '59. So maybe some decades have that acceleration on, and others, not so much.
The thing is that all the companies are large and if they're not large they're still using the large companies. In Europe especially. But there's no one really doing anything new. There were small companies which were groovy. But, it was still gonna be the same kind of number, more or less. It's still capitalism; it was still the same. As everyone knows unless you control the lines of distribution... that's capitalism. It's DISTRIBUTION as well as the capital. It's no good not being a capitalist if you STILL have to go through Capitol or EMI or Columbia. If you're anti-capitalist you CAN'T go through Columbia or RCA. The other thing is that I'm amazed that John Lennon would change the words of his record to please EMI. I'm AMAZED. I... we would never do that in a million years. We'd just walk out. I mean, we changed the covers but no one ever asked us to change the WORDS.
We found out, and it wasn't years till we did, that all the bread we made for Decca was going into making little black boxes that go into American Air Force bombers to bomb fucking North Vietnam. They took the bread we made for them and put it into the radar section of their business. When we found that out, it blew our minds. That was it. Goddamn, you find out you've helped to kill God knows how many thousands of people without even knowing it. I'd rather the Mafia than Decca.
I don't want to go to America and be called a capitalist bastard because of what the tickets cost. In '69, I didn't know what the tickets were costing. You just go and play some music and when you get there you find out and you're in the deep end already. What were you paying in '66 to see us? Because I don't want to make the prices so high that there is a whole stratum of kids that can't afford to see us. They're probably the funkiest kids, you know? They're the ones that would come and dig to see it and have a good time at doin' it too.
(Chicago's) Mayor Daley's a good target. And there's a million Mayor Daleys in America. Why have a go at one? Sure he's a cunt, you know, everyone knows he's a cunt. But there's a million hiding behind... How many times can you use those words - justice, freedom. It's like margarine, man. You can package it and you can sell that too. In America they have a great talent for doing that... I mean, look at Richard Nixon and then look at your average young cat in the street, or some Indian cat. It's all there, you've only got to look at what's in front of you. And that's all we've ever been trying to do. Not trying to tell people where to go or which way to go because I don't know. We're all following. I mean, it's all going to happen. It's all coming down.
I think the reason we got forced out (of England in 1971) was that they realized it was pointless. They were showing their own weakness, a country that's been running a thousand years worried about a couple of guitar players and a singer. Do me a favor! They started to look bad. Specially when they hit John Lennon. After they'd given him an MBE, they tried to bust him! That's when you realize how fragile our little society is. But the government allowed that fragility to show. They let us look under their skirts - ooh, just another pussy, you know? Sending the Stones out to fend for themselves was like, Pay up and go broke and live here, or fuck off. To me, there was no choice; I'd rather fuck off. Why not? I mean, I love England, and it's my country. If you're forced to stay out too long and you go back, you feel like D. H. Lawrence. He said, I feel more an alien here than anywhere else.
And to us it might seem, oh, world population. Before there were newspapers and radios and TV you wouldn't hear about that... You would never hear about that plague in India or Bengal that they're having and the cholera thing. If you was living in Wales at the time of the great plague in London you probably wouldn't get to hear about that until five years after it happened. And so, something like world population, you wouldn't even know about it. Depends how worried you want to get about everything. I mean, how can you worry about world population, whose problem is that? You tell me. Everybody feels they ought to do something about it. If you know the facts. On the face of it it sounds scary. But after a while it always splits into two things, one side is, Oh, in ten years there's going to be so many people on earth and you're not going to be able to do this, and the other says, Oh yes; it's going to be terrible for them, but it's going to be all right for us. And then there's, Oh, the world's growing too much food and they're just throwing it all away, enough to feed the world five times over is being thrown into the Atlantic ocean: and the only reason it's not getting to the people that need it to stay alive is either because they don't want to afford the cost of transporting it to those people or they want those people to die anyway. I mean, what about that tidal wave in Pakistan, man? Quarter of a million in one night. I'll just keep on rocking and hope for the best. I mean that's really what in all honesty it comes down to. I mean why do people want to be entertainers or do they want to listen to music or come and watch people make music? Is it just a distraction or is it a vision or God knows what? It's everything to all kinds of people.
(T)he anonymity (in America) is pretty good. It's not like England, where it's so crowded one has to buy a thousand acres to have any privacy, where they line up outside your house to find out who you fucked the night before. I hate that place... you think if only they'd let you, you could take it over and really get it together beause it's so small really. You think something like the miners' strike is going to really bring about a change. But Heath... (sighs). Really, it's such a pathetic little village sometimes.
Do you know there are no more salmon in the rivers of France any more? They've killed them all with pollution. In Nice and Cannes, the French are thieves... I'll never live there again.
At the beginning of this century, people came in and absolutely destroyed music. People like Stravinsky and Schoenberg swept away the old forms. They made history. WE'VE written hundreds of different songs, plaintive ballads even, but we keep coming back to rock. We've sort of honed it out and continued it as a pure, conscous thing. We haven't made it fancy, we've added no embellishments.
Wherever people see evil, usually there is fear and paranoia within the viewer. We've never tried to hide anything or cover up our lives. If some people see us and are scared of us and think us evil, there's nothing we can do for them. That's THEIR problem. I suppose this nonsense about us appeals to a lot of people, and it is reinforced by timid reporters who should be sent to interview Princess Margaret about her charities and her twin sets of pearls.
Funny though how things have changed, no one's talking about free concerts anymore and yet right now grass is legal in Michigan. It's like maybe when you stop pushing, you get what you want... there's a message there somewhere, folks.
I don't see the baby; I'm always fuckin' ON THE ROAD. It's my own choice, but I'm fucking negligent, I just am. But when I was a kid, my father was away a lot. It's important to be there in the formative years of childhood, but I'm not there. And short of carrying the kid about in the next room, which I also don't particularly dig, you just see your kid when you can, same as anyone else.
Traumas? I haven't had any. I haven't had to go to Vietnam and get napalmed, or jump out of helicopters and shoot peasants. I mean, getting nicked is one thing. It's just like getting a parking ticket. All you have to do is to make sure that whatever you do doesn't bother other people. That's something worth telling a kid. You can even talk about discipline if you're careful. Everyone has to have a code. Everyone has to be tied down to something, but within discipline there's a lot of room to move and that's not often mentioned. On tour we have a lot of discipline: people to move, equipment, deadlines, union things. I can talk about all that kind of discipline to a child because I can understand it and I can cope with it. Maybe I'm a frustrated Army officer.
I thought the glamour thing was funny, because I've seen it all before. People bandy that word decadence about and don't know what it means. What do they mean by decadence - bisexuality? That's not decadence, but people think there is some mystique about it.
A knighthood, I'd take, nothing less than a knighthood. But you gotta last a long time to get a knighthood. Noel Coward was one of the most hated people in England at one point but he got a knighthood. In the Way of Tao I think it says no government should ever decorate anyone because it makes other people jealous and I think I agree with that.
I'd like to do something else but we're taught from a very early age that failure is the worst thing that can happen to a person. For instance, in school the one who can give the quickest answer is the teacher's pet. They'll pick on a kid that's a bit slow and demand, Why don't you know the answer? The whole class knows and one kid doesn't. Jesus, he's made to feel inferior... The industry and society, the media and everything else foster competition in every field. Especially in pop music or in any field of entertainment. You're just built up to be put down. A footballer is built up to be put down and it's the same with a musician - manipulated by the media and by the people who control them.
They say, you're married, and all that, got money, settled down and all that, betcha don't feel rebellious anymore. The answer is no more and no less. I'm not writing overtly political songs. But I'm not complacent.
We have a lot of poor people (in England) and a problematical country, but whether I should pay to get out of it is debatable. Through my selfishness and greed, I've elected not to by living abroad.
I don't think anything is really important to me, you know? Not really. I mean, not overwhelmingly.
There is a perpetual adolescent influence because what I was doing when I was 18 I'm doing now. I mean the room I had at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle is the same room I would have had in 1964. I mean it wasn't any grander, it was the same room. And I'm doing the same things, slightly different of course. Instead of travelling on commercial planes we've got our own, but it's still the same thing. And the responsabilities I have are much less than someone who used to come to our concerts when they were 17 and now they've gotten married and have five children and two cars and three mortgages. I'm married and have children and all that, but I don't sort of worry about it because I'm doing what I did before... when I was an adolescent. I only discovered this really by looking at other people in rock and roll... it perpetuates your adolescence, for good or bad. I don't know if it's good or bad, because I can't evaluate it. It feels real nice and I don't give a shit... I don't feel responsabilities other people feel. Obviously, being in a rock band makes you more adolescent than if you worked in an IBM company and really had to worry about your future. I don't worry about the future. I'm living out my adolescent dreams perpetually.
If we went to Russia, I'd like to go with Stevie Wonder, you know, and a whole bunch of people, not just the Rolling Stones. We'd like a week in Moscow, and we'd take everything: all the techniques we've learned, all the lights, everything we've learned about different types of music. And we'd just show them what we've done and if they don't like it, too bad... Those countries I'm not just thinking about for the Stones but for the whole... music of now, which in some sense we can help... It's very difficult. You get into politics as soon as you start wanting to go to, say, Indonesia. It's a problem because the governments are so volatile and they can change. They relate to us much more as a part of American culture, we might as well be Americans. They don't see the difference, we're just white Anglo-Saxons in Brazil or Peru.
It's very good to have fun with (journalists) because most of them are so SERIOUS... everything is so serious. I mean, how can I be expected to JUMP from Queen to politics to is-there-life-after-death, and take it all SERIOUSLY? But they do, and they think it's all very serious. They think that journalism is a serious profession.
It's kind of limiting using your intellect to write songs like Brown Sugar, isn't it? The only thing I'm really interested in is comparative religion and ancient history.
On one hand, they say the Rolling Stones and rock musicians in general are corrupting the kids, but if they just left us alone and didn't come looking for drugs then nobody would know if we had a drug problem or not. It's all just a camouflage. It's like the Interpol thing. Until they decided to have a war on drugs in the '50s the drug problem was very, vey small. It's only when they got up on their hind legs and started to declare war on narcotics that the drug problem grew 200 and 300 percent.
Maybe it's not bad Margaret Trudeau was involved because it took it out to a completely different level. Instead of everything just being centered on me and the Stones, it involved the prime minister of the fucking country... (Laughs) The things they were fishing for: was Margaret Trudeau fed up? Was she going to leave her husband to run off with a rock & roll band? That's what they were really trying to get around, but the way Pierre (Trudeau) handled it made more out of less, unfortunately. Obviously he didn't know what was going on, because if he did he would have tried to cool things out.
Yeah, I think it's very bad (that the Stones became identified with standing for drug use). As I say, I don't remember ever proselytizing for it myself... But I think it became a tremendous bore to everyone in the Rolling Stones who ever got either arrested or involved with drugs... So it was tremendously regrettable - especially the damage it did by persuading people how glamorous it all was... You might get different answers from different people in the band, but if I remember right, it was not the intention of the Rolling Stones to become drug-user outlaws. It was a real drawback as far as creativity went. And it went on until 1977, with Keith's bust in Toronto. All those things affected the band and gave us this image of being like a real bunch of outlaw dope fiends - which was to a certain extent, I suppose, true. But it was also imposed, somewhat. Because I think the original intent was just to do what one did and not make an issue of it.
I prefer to hear (punk) bands than a lot of shit that goes on the Hollywood Rock Awards on TV... I think it's stupid for Peter Frampton to do comedy sketches with robots in Hollywood. And that silly Olivia Newton-John with that daft Australian accent, what do they think they are, film stars or something?... What a bunch of bullshit. This is rock and roll, that's what I'm saying. I feel more in sympathy with Johnny Rotten, I'm sorry. I would never do that shit. Ever. I mean, people call me jet set and all that shit, but I would never do that shit.... To see people that I know and really like doing it makes me feel even worse. All their fucking bow ties. Who in the fuck do they think they are? Stupid. I mean, the rock awards should be playing rock and roll, not all this pouncing around with script cards and bow ties.
It's a real feeling of déjà vu. All you have to do is delete the words Sex Pistols and write in Rolling Stones and you've got the same old press as you had 15 years ago - exactly. It is funny, because they've manipulated the press in England, they've made them play the same old games they played with us. Piss on the floor and watch them all come running; would you let your daughter marry one? It's hilarious. They puked at the London airport; we pissed in the filling station.
Maybe it's more extreme (in England) because maybe we're just more extreme people. Certain sections of England are very extreme. You did have a very extreme political reaction in (the U.S.) in the 1960s... I mean that was their version... the way it happened in America that time, this is the way it's happening in England this time. The same phenomenon, the same expression, just a different way of expressing it.
(Five years old is not too young to have sex). Rubbish. This is really sort of taboo in society - people never thought that children bred any sexual ideas at all; in fact, children are highly sexual. They don't have to fuck each other but they obviously have sexual ideas. Everybody who has a child knows that. Freud was the first person that dared to say that children had sexual ideas and they almost stoned him into the ground for that. It was absolutely taboo... I mean, little boys have erections; and everyone knows that - who has had children, or boys.
I can't take any of it seriously. I don't take anything seriously anymore. I mean I can't take anything THAT seriously. I mean since the age of 14 I haven't taken anything really seriously... whatever I do.
No, I'm not a nihilist. I don't know. I'm not really going through a very spiritual phase at the moment, I must say. I seem to have been going through a totally physical phase. I think you should build upon your spiritual life as much as you can, it's really important. Nearly everybody avoids it, because it's painful, you know? It's really the end of one's life to build your spiritual life to the highest peak, and that's what I really aim to do with my life. Anyway, doesn't mean it's going to apply to everybody.
I was going back to college for a while, but I never made it. I'm a real dropout. I wanted to do comparative religion and history, but I just couldn't take three months off and go every day. I found myself having to work, and I'm just too lazy. I need three months off from music, but I can never get them.
Wasting my time.
I agree with some of (Solzhenitsyn's speech on the decline of the West) but I disagree with his facts. He hit it too hard, he said more than he meant. He's right in a lot of ways. When we were in France (recording), we were cut off from the media and no one wrote about us and that's civilized and calm. Everyone in the U.S. is subject to this terrible TV and radio. But, you're right. Shattered is the same thing he was talking about. But I know much more about it than Solzhenitsyn does. I KNOW AMERICA. I'm half-American.
Oh, yeah, that IS America. Onward American women is what it really means. We're for everyone to go onward. What I don't like is for these girls to get married and have a baby and get divorced and get like $350 000 and then call themselves feminists. What's that? In Central Europe, the women work and have close families and that's what I want.
On to The Eighties