Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mick Jagger - Philip Norman

You can't always get what you want: Norman wanted a proper Interview with Jagger.  But Jagger hates talking about himself, so Norman was forced to piece together a life witnessed and recorded in the press, on the page, in the papers and on the net. 

As I advanced wearily through this book, I could have sworn I'd already read it. That's because most people over the age of 40 could recite the two-timing-table of Jagger's life without even having to think twice. A PE teacher dad; meets Kef on the train; starts singing in that funny voice as an imitation of an American black man of a certain age; Andrew Loog Oldham; Altamont; Bianca; Jerry Hall; lifelong penny-pincher, life long rock star - won't ever give up!  i recently go hold of GRRRRR the compilation of well played hits from 4 decades and was still surprised to find them enjoyable, there's a reason why dad dances around the living room on Xmas evening, after 4 sherries.  That ass cant stop shakin'! 

From what I can gather from slightly older friends, young people mainly dug the Stones initially because parents didn't care for them. They were the grunge to the Beatles Suave.  they were the devil, and eventually sung about him, too. Blues was cool, enduring, sexy.  Twee songs about holding hands was smultz.  But, i note most parents don't care for measles, mumps or chickenpox either – so that doesn't mean youngsters should embrace them as totems of lust. And surely Jagger is one of the most cold-blooded conservatives ever to pose as a red-blooded rebel. Sure, he had his 60s flirtations with Tom Driberg and Angela Davis but he was off to the south of France like a shot in the 70s when the chance to avoid paying tax raised its ugly head.  His attitude to money as much as his idiot-dancing which renders Jagger so unattractive but still you've gotta give him his dues!  His most frequent query whenever a tour is coming up is the peevish "Are we paying for that?". The Marsha Hunt episode sums up MJ's inherent slipperiness horribly.  He sees a photo of her and fancies her: she soon gets a phone call from the Stones office, which is looking to promote the forthcoming single Honky Tonk Women by asking her to pose in "tarty clothes" alongside the whole band. She declines, explaining that she prefers not to look as if she's "just been had by all the Rolling Stones". She was sleeping with the far prettier Marc Bolan at the time (so that's a bit of a have), and finds old Liver Lips easily resistible.  Still she was won over by "shyness and awkwardness", this seemingly intelligent woman is persuaded by the slimeball to have his baby.  He called her "Miss Fuzzy" and was still shacked up with Marianne Faithfull.  But in retun he writes the 'tender' love song entitled Black Pussy  ( later changed to Brown Sugar - i can't see that making it to AOR radio, or any radio for that matter!)  Later he meets Bianca, thinks better of it, denies paternity and claims he's broke!  – this superstar, already a millionaire many times over.  A decade later he is still griping about the events on the title track of the Some Girls album – "Some girls give me cheeld-run … Ah never asked them faw" (Always looks silly when you see the phonetic translation of Jagger's preposterous Delta-blues-bad-boy singing voice is one of the book's modest delights).

Also, in the Hunt episode, Jagger's stinginess and misogyny combine to reveal him as a truly unappetising creep. But as one who stole his vocal and his dancing style from others, this most tricky of shadow puppets seems insubstantial compared to the women in his life, whether it is Faithfull making him read books, Bianca making him talk French or Jerry Hall making him look like a Lothario.  And of course, casting the biggest shadow of all, like some epic scarecrow, is Keith Richards, a man whose glamour and charisma increase at the same rate as his wrinkles!
Large though this book is, it labours in the shadow of other tomes.  Nothing new here except the cover and the font.  But If you want to combine the others into one, then you can justify the price

Still this is all we have, for now.  Because the autobiography which Jagger himself (albeit with a ghostwriter) promised and failed to deliver in the early 80s on account of the interview tapes being too boring, never comes.  It must have hurt him to hand back a million pounds but he bore it bravely: "This isn't working, is it?" he concedes to the book's distraught editor before they even sit down. It is always admirable when someone admits that they do not have a book in them; let us hope that Mr Norman learns from his subject's example!

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