It’s Christmas. Or nearly. I sit up late-night, listening to ‘Prodigal Son’ by the Rolling Stones. From Beggars Banquet. Anything can be a Christmas song if you listen to it at Christmas time.
(I just learned that my good friend Sean from Belfast was laid off from his job at the BBC. He has a young daughter. He’s an outspoken republican in a city still dominated by a British backed Protestant elite. Things that make you go hmmm. I lost a the job I held for over 10 years last year. Four days before Xmas. I know what he feels like. Shite. We talked some. He’s too talented a bloke to not land on his feet. But still…..I wish the world was a nicer place. Sean…I love you brother. You’re a fearsome talent and a gentle soul. No better combination. And you’re a genuine irishman. Shit mate. If you were a woman I’d marry your ass.)
Wow. I’m hearing a live version of ‘Gimme Shelter’ from 1975 now. This song scares me. And it makes me sit up straight and pay attention. Keith Richards sounded like a panzer corps in the early 70s. He may have been a junkie, but he was the most highly functioning junkie I’ve ever heard. A Mozart in open G tuning. One doesn’t hear songs like ‘Gimme Shelter’ anymore. Guitarists figure it’s all been done before. What Keith did between 1968 and 1972 was prove that that wasn’t true.
Maybe now it is true.
I hope not. What a bore that would be.
I’ve got new songs. Lots of them. And old songs that haven’t been heard before, so I guess that makes them new. I’ve got songs I’ve written for others. I’ve got notebooks filled with random verses….lines written, literally, sideways. My guitar is sitting on a chair in the living room, always good for creativity. “It’s not a person“, my wife will say as she moves it to sit down.
What am I supposed to be doing with these songs? Why the hell do I bother? I gave up singing for my supper years ago. I was starving to death. It takes a certain something to throw the guitar in the backseat and wander. I’ve got everything else required in multiples of ten. But that last bit of ambition I lack. I move a few miles away and I get lost. I start looking for the way home again. I miss what I know. My little piece of ground. My steps. My kids. The view from my own window.
“Can’t Always Get What You Want” is on now. How apropos. But one does get what one needs if one tries hard enough.
(What is it with the Stones songs this Christmas? I have no idea. The thing with Ipods is that you spin that wheel…and come across something….and when you stop sometimes you stay in the same spot for days. Or weeks. I was stuck on John Prine for at least a month around Halloween.)
It’s even later now. I can’t sleep. The rest of the house is knackered. I’m surrounded by girls. Wife. Two daughters. Girl dog. Girl cat. Used to have a fish and a hamster. Not sure how to tell with them but I’m pretty sure they were tribe members too. Just the way they looked at me. Eyes that said…”you poor poor bastard…”
“Midnight Rambler” on now. Good song….but songs about maniacal rapists aren’t gonna make me drowsy. Just how did they get away with this stuff? Anyone remember “Brown Sugar”….something about slaves and cunnilingus? My favorite bit of Keith Richards’s bio is when he wrote of Mick’s “tiny dodger”….so at least I know these things were done tongue in cheek. No pun intended. She blew my nose and then she blew my mind indeed.
I could go on and on I suppose. The Stones do have a large catalog and it’s all on the Ipod. It plays in alphabetical order….and it’s up to Dirty Work now…which has to be somebody telling me to enough is enough. If posing for that album cover didn’t kill Keith, nothing will.
Happy Christmas to one and all. I like “Happy” better than “Merry”. Not sure why. For the record, I don’t mind “Happy Holidays” either (Palin and O’Reily et al can kiss my tiny dodger). Anytime somebody wants to wish me well, they can use whatever fucking words they want. There’s not enough glad tidings as it is. I’m gonna bitch about words?
To quote Keith Richards….”string it, and play it low.”
In a bit..