Sympathy for the Rolling Stones

OK, I know, the last group of guys on earth that needs any sympathy is the Rolling Stones. But I was listening to Sympathy for the Devil this morning and was struck by the lyrical brilliance.  I’ve always loved the last verse of the song:

                 So if you meet me, have some courtesy
                 Have some sympathy, and some taste
                 Use all your well learned politics
                 Or I’ll lay your soul to waste

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were/are prolific songwriters, they wrote hundreds of great songs together.   Among my favorites are Gimme Shelter, Tumblin Dice, Live With Me, Wild Horses, and Brown Sugar.  Plus many, many more; too many to list.  All topped, of course, by Honky Tonk Woman :-).  Their body of work is astonishing.  

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Gimme Shelter.  I was laying in bed listening my newly purchased version of Hot Rocks.  I had heard most of the songs before, but all of sudden Gimme Shelter starts, and I’ve got goose bumps.  The mood of the song is so haunting, so foreboding. It’s a stunning combination of music and lyrics.  I listened to it over and over, wondering how, as a Stones fan, I had not heard it before then.

Earlier this year, I read Keith’s autobiography, Life.   It’s a fantastic read, especially if you are a Rolling Stones fan.  Keith is extremely open and honest with “us”.  I didn’t know too much about Keith before reading it, so learning about his childhood and the early days of the band was fascinating.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing the Stones in concert twice – once in 1981 and again in 1997.  In 1981 I was nineteen and got my ticket through a friend of a friend. I paid forty dollars for the ticket which had a face value of twenty five. It was a last minute thing.  Unable to locate my good friend and fellow Stones fanatic Joe, no cell phones in those days, I grabbed Robby, another friend, and headed out, making a stop for the tickets along the way.  Robby drove, and Robby drives like a maniac.  The ride to the concert was nearly as eventful as the concert itself.

The next day, I remember my father asking how much I’d paid for my ticket.  He hated all things rock and roll, but he especially hated the Stones (and I’m sure still does).  I told him I paid face value, twenty five bucks.  Why did I lie?  Who knows, I was nineteen.  And naturally, in a bizarre twist, he ran into the parents of the friend of the friend the following weekend, and found out I’d paid forty.  When he challenged me, I told him I’d lied because I knew he wouldn’t understand.  There weren’t any repercussions, it was my money after all.  Still, it was awkward. I’m not sure much I would have paid to see the Stones back then, but forty was well worth it for me at the time.

So, the band turns fifty this year, or early next, according to Keith.  I understand there is going to be a documentary coming out later in the year with lots of rare footage.  I can’t wait.

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