194: The Rolling Stones, ‘Not Fade Away’ (1964)

Posted by jeff on Apr 25, 2014 in Rock, Rock and Roll, Song Of the week

The Rolling Stones – ‘I Just Want to Make Love to You’/’Not Fade Away’ (video, 1964)
The Rolling Stones – ‘Not Fade Away’

Then

Then

Line Groth, a very talented young Danish musician, told me yesterday she’s going to be performing soon on stage with The Rolling Stones, together with her wonderful choir, Vocal Line. After recovering from my jealousy attack, I congratulated her sincerely, wished her very well, and mentioned The Early Stones, circa 1964, who will always be for me The Real Stones. She had no idea what I was talking about. So for Line, for Jens (who probably does know) and for all the Vocal Line crew, this is what I mean:

The Rolling Stones are coming to town. I don’t care.

The rest of the country is prepping and priming and primping itself like a virgin bride. We live in a country widely referred to as “the so-called Zionist entity”, routinely boycotted, divested and delegitimized by True Lovers of Peace and Truth, so when a major pop band ignores the widespread call to dis-appear here, my fellow countrymen take it as an affirmation of our very existence. We prostrate ourselves as a Welcome mat and pay $200 a ticket to stand on the grass three kilometers from the stage.

Now

Now

When McCartney came here a couple of years ago, everyone asked me if I was going. “No,” I responded, “I’ve already seen him with his original band.” “Oh, you mean Wings??” they said, duly impressed.

When I want to see dinosaurs, I’ll go watch “Jurassic Park” or visit the Museum of Natural History. But I get it. Appearing on-stage with The Petrified Stones is about as cool a thing as can happen today. Still (he says, his chin drooping and his cane wobbling) they ain’t what they used to be.

Good Boys

Good Boys

I saw The Stones once, when I was 16, in June, 1964, on their first tour of the US. It was a rather dodgy thing to do–many Jewish mothers wouldn’t let their daughters date boys who listened to The Stones.

They were cast as Bad, a conscious promotional ploy to contrast them with The Beatles, who were Cute (or, alternately, Adorable). But even The Beatles were considered seditious by many. Johnny Argis, the first boy in my high school to grow a Beatle-styled mop top, was suspended for wearing jeans. I haven’t yet fully recovered from that outrage, even though Woodward (the building) has long been deconstructed.

Bad Boys

Bad Boys

The Beatles first appeared in the US on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 (simultaneously with their first #1 US hit, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’), rocking and rolling the entire world. In May 1964, The Stones appeared on a much less prestigious variety show, The Hollywood Palace, hosted by Dean Martin (formerly of Martin and Lewis, The Rat Pack, a successful drunk crooner). They were almost unknown, perceived by The Establishment as the even uglier side of surly teenage non-music. Martin openly mocked them from the host’s mike. It was so offensive that an orthodoxly acoustic folk singer, in the liner note poem on the back of his August 1964 album “Another Side of Bob Dylan”, wrote: “an dean martin should apologize/t the rolling stones”. Who would have thought He even listened to that kind of music?

 

Ageing Rock Star

Ageing Rock Star

The entire tour was in Bill Wyman’s words, “a disaster”. The Stones wouldn’t have even a minor hit song until September, with ‘Heart of Stone’ (#19). Their first US single, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ (given to them by their buddies John and Paul) failed to make an impression on the charts, as did the subsequent ‘Tell Me’, ‘It’s All Over Now’ and ‘Time Is On My Side’ (all hits in the UK, where apparently personal hygiene was less of an issue). They actually wouldn’t have a US hit until March 1965, with a little ditty called ‘Satisfaction’. From then on, they were legitimate stars, albeit denizens of the dark side.

 

Not Fade Away

Not Fade Away

On the Dean Martin show they performed two songs. ‘I Just Want to Make Love To You’, a raw R&B song, was written by Willie Dixon (‘Back Door Man’, ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, ‘You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover’, ‘Spoonful’) for Muddy Waters (I don’t want you to be no slave/I don’t want you to work all day/I don’t want you ‘cause I’m sad and blue/I just want to make love to you). In 1964, good kids didn’t listen to songs like that. Well, I did. I’ll let you draw the logical conclusions from that. (For contrast, here’s the same song forty years on.)

The other song was ‘Not Fade Away’,their first UK Top 10 hit, written by Buddy Holly in 1957 as the B side of ‘Oh, Boy’. It’s patently based on The Bo Diddley beat. Bo is one of my favorite artists, and we’re going to write about him sometime soon. I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to tell the whole story, about how Dick Taylor, who was a school friend of Mick and Keith and an early member of The Rolling Stones, formed a fine but unsuccessful group called The Pretty Things, which took its name from their signature Bo Diddley-penned song of the same name. (Bo Diddley, ‘Roadrunner’; The Pretty Things, ‘Roadrunner’) Bo, Willie, Muddy were all members of the Chess label from Chicago, together with Chuck and Howlin’. The Stones had met Bo on their very first tour (in the UK), and recorded at the Chess studios during this selfsame first visit to the US.

Buddy Holly, ‘Not Fade Away’; The Rolling Stones, ‘Not Fade Away’

Fade Away

Fade Away

People like John and Paul and Mick and Keith recognize Buddy Holly as the first singer-songwriter of rock and roll. They credit him with being their inspiration for attempting to write their own songs. Buddy’s ‘Not Fade Away’ always fascinated me, especially the opening guitar riff. Even if I live long enough to tell the whole story from the previous paragraph, I doubt I’ll ever make it to understanding the rhythm of that riff. Three Oklahoma hick kids in 1957 playing a rhythm I can’t begin to figure out. I’ve asked composers to explain it to me. Heck, out of utter desperation I’ve even asked drummers to explain it to me. Nada. Well, thank goodness The Stones simplified it.

Speaking of Keith’s ability to play the Chess (and Chess-inspired) classics, here’s a wonderful clip of Chuck Berry taking Keith to school on ‘Oh, Carol’. I don’t understand how you can get your idol into the studio and then argue with him about his creation. But then, I’m not a Rolling Stone. I’m not even a stationary one.

mick-jagger-keith-richards-london-1964Had we but world enough and time, we could go on forever. But time isn’t on our side, and you can’t always get what you want.

So congratulations to Line, Jens and Vocal Line. You’re going to climb up on stage with The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the world, and I’m sure you’ll kill it. But before you do so, you should check out the original bad boys, the real thing, The (original) Rolling Stones. For me, that youth, that vitality, that saucy insouciance, that utter chutzpa, will just not fade away.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

050: The Rolling Stones, ‘Gimme Shelter’ (Kent State)
180: Tim Ries, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ (Flamenco)
188: Imogen Heap/Vocal Line, ‘Let Go’

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180: Tim Ries, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ (Flamenco)

Posted by jeff on Sep 27, 2013 in Jazz, Other, Rock, Song Of the week

Tim Ries & The Rolling Stones Project (with Sara Baras) – Jumping Jack Flash

Tim Ries describing the project and this recording + the recording

Go ahead, guys, laugh at me. You laughed at Sonny Bono, I’m in good company. Yeah, I’m going to talk about a flamenco/jazz version of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, the Rolling Stones’ iconic paean to Satan.

JJF Flamenco. Yes, folks, it’s our very first SoTW starring a dancer – namely flamenciste Sara Baras (b. 1971, Spain), in the very sure hands of Tim Ries, a multi-reed player who studied under Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman and Bob Brookmeyer. He’s played with everyone from Steely Dan to Stevie Wonder to Paul Simon, as well as one of my very favorite musicians, Maria Schneider.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ was recorded by The Stones during the 1968 “Beggars Banquet” sessions, but released on a single outside the album. Keith Richards plays the bass, floor tom, acoustic and electric guitar; Mick Jagger provides lead vocals and maracas; Brian Jones plays electric guitar, Charlie Watts drums, Bill Wyman Hammond organ, and Nicky Hopkins piano. There’s lots of talk about the open tuning on Keith’s guitars that you can read about here. They’ve played the song on every tour since its release.

In 1999 Tim Ries gigged in the horn section (and occasional keyboards) on The Rolling Stones No Security tour. After the tour, he recorded three Stones’ songs to see how they’d sound in a jazz context.  He gave them the demo. Keith Richards:

I thought what Tim recorded was amazing, and I’m sort of jealous of him. When we wrote those songs, there was a lot of pressure on us to keep them as short as possible for the singles market. With what Tim does, he has the luxury to stretch out the melodies and play with the different chords and harmonies. Instead of the sketches that we basically recorded, Tim’s versions are more like fully finished things. The playing is beautiful too. Tim always has such a beautiful sound.

The Stones enthusiastically supported the project, which gave birth to 2 releases, “The Rolling Stones Project” (2005) and the double-CD “Stones World” (2008). Pitching in were Bill Frisell, Milton Nascimento, Eddie Palmieri, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Bernard Fowler, the divine Luciana Souza, Sheryl Crow, John Scofield, and Wayne Shorter’s bass-drum team John Patitucci and Brian Blade. Oh, and The Rolling Stones themselves.

There’s a lot of fine music on the CDs. Here’s Watts/Wood/Richards and Sheryl Crow helping Tim Ries out on ‘Slipping Away.’

Here’s a particularly fine one, Norah Jones singing ‘Wild Horses’, backed by Bill Frisell and the whole Tim Ries crew. I wrote a whole SoTW about this very cut. 

Here’s ‘Salt of the Earth’, sung in a number of languages and styles by a number of singers, one of whom is Ahinoam Nini’s sister Odeya doing Stones in Hebrew!. And here’s Bernard Fowler singing ‘Wild Horses’ live on a Tim Ries tour, a bit overdone for my tastes. And here’s Tim Ries recorded version of ‘Paint It Black’, and you’ll find lots more live performances from the project on YouTube.

But here’s the one I really want to share with you, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ flamencoed by the torrid Sara Baras. I readily admit that I’m not a crossover fan in general, not an aficionado of flamenco specifically, but fellas – if you’ve ever taken my advice about anything, watch this clip. If it doesn’t make your blood boil, you’re probably dead.

Here’s Tim Ries talking about the project and about the recording of this clip. He explained to everyone what he wanted and it was done in a single take.

It’s more than a gas. It’s improvised magic, sultry and steamy. Give your eyes, your ears, and several other senses a treat: Sara Baras dancing on a little wooden box to Tim Reis’s treatment of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’.

I was born in a cross-fire hurricane
And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,
But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas!
But it’s all right. I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash,
It’s a gas! Gas! Gas!

I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag,
I was schooled with a strap right across my back,
But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas!
But it’s all right, I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash,
It’s a gas! Gas! Gas!

I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead.
I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled.
I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread.
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I was crowned with a spike right thru my head
But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas!
But it’s all right, I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash,
It’s a gas! Gas! Gas!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:
 080: Tim Ries w. Norah Jones, ‘Wild Horses’
093: Leon Russell, ‘A Song for You’ (especially the cover there of ‘Honky Tonk Women’)
050: The Rolling Stones, ‘Gimme Shelter’ (Kent State)

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050: The Rolling Stones, ‘Gimme Shelter’ (Kent State)

Posted by jeff on May 26, 2010 in History, Personal, Rock, Song Of the week

The Rolling Stones, ‘Gimme Shelter’

I wrote a few weeks ago (SoTW 46, James Taylor’s ‘Never Die Young’) that by a bizarre alignment of the stars (and with the generous support of Facebook), my three college buddies and I have renewed contact after 40 years. The four of us spent the years 1968-1970 together. I suppose all old fogies think their Day was special. But it seems pretty obvious and indisputable to me that those years of flower power, Sgt Pepper, and Woodstock hold an interest above and beyond the norm. Last year I gave a lecture to a group of very bright undergrads (on the other side of the world from where the aforementioned events took place) about those times and their music, and the degree of the kids’ expertise was really quite outstanding. They’ve memorized the Jimi Hendrix canon, pored over the Woodstock outtakes films, purchased and re-mastered The Beatles Remastered. Colorful, heady, memorable times, those late ’60s.

But if we’re going to be truthful, all this nostalgia has its ugly underbelly. The Woodstock nation didn’t come into being spontaneously. It was fueled, yes, by babyboomers moving out of the house and into the realms of burgeoning sexual freedom, self-exploration, and idealism. But there was one unsypathetic devil lurking behind all those jingle-jangle mornings—The Draft.

There was a war going on, in Vietnam, and Richard Nixon was trying to get me to go over there and get myself killed. Here, let’s try to build a scaffolding of pertinent facts.

Throughout 1969, American soldiers were being killed in Vietnam at a rate of 223 a week. Thirty-two soldiers a day. 53% of Americans approved of Nixon’s handling of the war, 30% disapproved. My friends and I were being pursued by the draft to join those figures. Guess what? We were among the unbathed minority who disapproved of the war.

In August, 1969, half a million hippies showed up at Woodstock, seemingly out of nowhere, for 3 days of peace and love and music.

In December, 1969, promoters organized an attempt at a free ‘Woodstock West’ at the Altamont Racetrack in northern California, with The Rolling Stones as headliners. Hell’s Angels were right in front of the stage – according to most versions hired to enforce order, an oxymoronic plan if there ever was one. There was a lot of scuffling and fighting, reaching its peak during the Stones’ set when one Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death. He may have been brandishing a gun. Or not. But it was one ugly scene, documented in the movie Gimme Shelter.

On April 30, 1970, Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia. Protest strikes broke out on campuses across the country. The strikes were mostly non-violent, and included marches, disruption of classes, and sit-ins in college administration buildings. On May 4 – 40 years ago this week – at Kent State University in northern Ohio, National Guard troops opened fire on protesting students, killing four and wounding 9 others. A week later, two more students were shot and killed at Jackson State College in Mississippi. A wave of violent and non-violent protests swept the country, involving four million students closing more than 450 colleges and sparking marches of 100,000 in Washington and 150,000 in San Francisco. (Thanks for the picture above of the march to my buddie Rod Pennington.)

It has never been conclusively determined if the Guardsmen fired on orders or spontaneously out of frustration.

The Kent State massacre was a trauma for us. Our university (in southern Ohio) was shut down immediately, students running as fast and as far as they could. I was reminded of the depth and the extent of the trauma by this article which I stumbled across recently, relating that universities are now hosting belated graduation ceremonies for the Class of ’70. Well, that’s my class, but I won’t be attending. I hardly remember the graduation ceremony, only that the university was opened especially for that event just for the day, probably sometime in June or July. But by then, I was already packing for a country where I felt wanted.

My most vivid memory of the events is, of course, musical. Not, as you might expect, Neil Young’s song ‘Ohio’, which was composed immediately and released only weeks after the events. My memory came in the form of what I believe was a ‘musical hallucination.’ Oliver Sacks devotes an entire long chapter to this phenomenon in his fine book Musicophilia. He asks a patient why she spoke of musical “hallucinations” rather than musical “imagery.” “They are completely unlike each other! They are as different as thinking of music and actually hearing it,” she answered.

It was the morning after the shootings. I was walking onto campus from my nearby apartment, going towards the administration building to see if it was still being occupied by the protestors. But the campus was abandoned, and my mind was a turmoil of outrage, shock and fear. That’s when I heard the opening bars of the Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter‘.

It’s a remarkable song, demonic, apocalyptic, emblematic of all the evil and ugliness embodied in the events described above.

Oh, a storm is threatening my very life today; If I don’t get some shelter, oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

War, children, it’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away…Love, sister, it’s just a kiss away, It’s just a kiss away

The song opens the Stones album “Let It Bleed”, released in November, 1969. It was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards together. According to Jagger, “The use of the female voice was the producer’s idea. It would be one of those moments along the lines of ‘I hear a girl on this track – get one on the phone.'” The girl they found was a professional backup singer, Merry Clayton (who at 15 had sung the original version of ‘The Shoop Shoop Song [It’s in His Kiss], which became a hit by Betty Everett and Cher. She had sung on records by Elvis Presley, Burt Bacharach, Tom Jones, Joe Cocker and Carole King. She was one of Ray Charles’ Raelets (“because you have to let Ray…”).  Merry was 21 at the recording of ‘Gimme Shelter’.

Jagger plays harmonica on it, Nicky Hopkins piano. Brian Jones was already gone. There’s an unreleased version with Richards singing lead. And here’s the song as performed at Altamont. But it’s the end-of-the-world album version that is #38 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It shows up everywhere, from The Simpsons to a video game to three Scorcese Mafia movies to That 70s Show to American Idol.

What’s the song’s connection to the shootings at Kent State? None, really. Other than I actually heard it, in the Aftermath of the event. And because it’s become universally accepted in the minds of me and my friends and the entire Woodstock nation as emblematic of that terrible time when American soldiers killed American citizens.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

080: Tim Ries w. Norah Jones, ‘Wild Horses’

078: Paul Simon, ‘The Late, Great Johnny Ace’

049: Chrysalis (J. Spider Barbour), “Summer in Your Savage Eyes”

 

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