Mick Jagger on the suburban tittle tattle lifestyle

I am a huge Rolling Stones fan. They're quite possibly my favorite rock band of all time (remember the Beatles rarely toured and cannot be measured or compared as a live act in their heyday). The Stones earliest goal was to turn the white kids and masses on to American blues music. They advanced the careers and legacies of nearly every American bluesmen that they touted and trumpeted and aped. They met their mentors and heroes along the way and ended up befriending many of them, not simply borrowing from them. They were respectful of America's impact on music in the 1960's. However, these guys were radical too. They incited riots almost everywhere they played, from London to Scotland to U.S. to Paris to Australia. Venues were completely sacked. Due to insane crowd fervor, shows were cancelled minutes after the curtain rose and the opening riff was banged out by Keith Richards. Violent pandemonium. Kids went nuts, lost their minds.

I am once again reading Old Gods Almost Dead by Stephen Davis (thanks to my man G. Brown for the 1st edition printing of this book). I'm on my 3rd reading. This book quotes writer Tom Wolfe who sums up the relationship between the Beatles and Stones: "the Beatles want to hold your hand, but the Stones want to burn your town." It was true. The Beatles were pretty boys that you wanted to take home to meet Mom. They made girls squeal and moan and yell. The Stones were Neanderthals that incited women to violence and primal screams. The Stones got arrested, harassed, hung out & felt most comfortable in So. Chicago upon their first visit to America and general had a f-you modus operandi.

I want to live long enough to see a rock band come along that is sexy, bad ass and original enough to incite riots. Nirvana changed the way the record industry worked, and they helped change the image of American popular music and fashion, and they opened doors for MANY of their peers and other great acts of the time. But, never did they incite riots and violence everywhere they played. Was "slam dancing", later "crowd surfing", later "moshing" considered riotous? Not in my book. Not even close. That upheaval was a largely male-only endeavor, and toward the end of the 90s it evolved away from a music related passion toward a meat headed frat boy excuse to be an asshole in public (see Limp Bizkit).

Anyway, the Rolling Stones were rebels. They rebelled against their past and the status quo of the early 1960s in Europe. Yet, the Stones largely came from the suburbs in England. However, part of their appeal to me was their rebellion against suburban values and tenets. Growing up in Belleville, I had a penchant to rebel against the boring and racist and mundane values of the 1980's suburbs later in my high school/college days. I'm still doing it today in the 12th ward.

From the book:


Stephen Davis: "The Stones, if they were really rebelling against anything, were protesting suburban values and outmoded bourgeois social rituals....Mick (Jagger) would soon begin attacking the underbelly of suburbia's hypocrisy in his songs."

Mick Jagger: "My great thing against suburban life was that is was, first of all petty," he later told an interviewer, "and secondly, boring, based on consumer values, at best unambitious, and full of tittle-tattle and jealousies and things like that. I was trying to look for a music that wasn't a reflection of that society."

Damn, that's pretty harsh. But I like it. Having grown up in a small town, and having no one close to me that grew up in an urban setting, I have no point of reference to gauge whether an urban experience is indeed such a stark contrast to the suburban lifestyle that Jagger references. Is an urban existance somehow socially better than a suburban one? I kind of think so. The chances of me meeting someone I will get along with politically, musically, socially, etc. is probably higher in St. Louis than it would be in Ellisville or Valley Park or Arnold or St. Charles. Will my kids grow up and think city life sucks and want to run for the country/burbs? Is it cyclical rebellion against your parents and their choices? Or, will they strive for an even more vibrant, accepting, diverse, progressive city? Can't wait to see how it pans out.

By my definition of "cool" the Stones were cool. Cities are cool. Mountains are cool. Deep woods are cool. Rivers are cool. Nature is cool. Small towns are cool. Yet, most of St. Louis' suburbs are decidedly uncool, lacking any kind of identity. I'll take a big dense city, or a big dense stand of trees vs. a sprawling, benign, placeless, generic American suburb.


I agree with Mick, it's good to rebel against the burbs.