Keith Richards tells the Wall Street Journal that the opening chords of Street Fighting Man were intended to imitate the sound of French police sirens.
Around this time, I became fascinated by one of the early cassette tape recorders made by Philips. The machine was compact, so it was portable, and it had this little stick microphone, which would allow me to capture song ideas on the fly. So I bought one, but as I watched the small tape-cartridge reels turn, I began to think of the machine not as a dictation device but as a mini recording studio. The problem is I couldn’t use an electric guitar to record on it. The sound just overwhelmed the mike and speaker. I tried an acoustic guitar instead and got this dry, crisp guitar sound on the tape—the exact sound I had been looking for on the song.
At the time, I was experimenting with open tunings on the guitar—you know, tuning the strings to form specific chords so I could bang out the broadest possible sound. That’s how I came up with “Street Fighting Man’s” opening riff—even before I bought the Philips. I based the rest of the song’s melody on the tone pattern of those odd sirens French police cars use [sings the siren and lyrics to illustrate].
Sometime in early ‘68, I took the Philips recorder into London’s Olympic Sound Studios and had Charlie [Watts] meet me there. Charlie had this snap drum kit that was made in the 1930s. Jazz drummers used to carry around the small kit to practice when they were on the bus or train. It had this little spring-up hi-hat and a tambourine for a snare. It was perfect because, like the acoustic guitar, it wouldn’t overpower the recorder’s mike. I had Charlie sit right next to the mike with his little kit and I kneeled on the floor next to him with my acoustic Gibson Hummingbird. There we were in front of this little box hammering away [laughs]. After we listened to the playback, the sound was perfect.
On that opening riff, I used enormous force on the strings. I always did that and still do. I’m looking at my hands now and they look like Mike Tyson’s. They’re pretty beat up. I’m not a hard hitter on the strings—more of a striker. It’s not the force as much as it is a whip action. I’m almost releasing the power before my fingers actually meet the strings. I’m a big string-breaker, since I like to whip them pretty hard.
Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was written in 1984 for the back side of an album ultimately rejected by that performer’s label.
“Hallelujah” began being covered in early 1990s by Jeff Buckley, a young singer-songwriter performing in the East Village, who recorded it on his only album in 1994, three years before he drowned, getting caught in a boat wake, in a river in Tennessee. Buckley’s version was considerably more emotional and his voice more sympathetic than Cohen’s. Buckley’s early and romantic death brought attention to the song, and one thing led to another.
Today, “Hallelujah” is one of the most-frequently-performed rock songs and a staple routinely used elegiacally in movies and television shows. It has been covered by large numbers of renowned performers, including Bono, Bob Dylan, U2, Justin Timberlake, Rufus Wainwright, and k.d. lang, and is used as a kind of secular funeral hymn around the world.
Me: Blue hair, silver tube top, fishnets, Knee high black biker boots.
You: Red mohawk, black pentagram gauges, viper piercings.
I was grinding on you in the pit, then we went to the bathroom, and got f***ed up. You had a nice c**k and I was wasted so I let [you] raw dog it in the stall. You were really good and you had to gag me so I would make too much noise.
Anyway I’m pregnant. It’s yours. contact me if you want to be part of your child’s life.”
Jim Geraghty forwards Jim Lileks’ tweeted comment on a new song titled “Moves Like Jagger” by a group called Maroon 5, and marvels himself that today’s youth sings tributes to the masculine appeal of a (once androgynous) geezer.
You kids know Mick Jagger is 68, right? I’m sure he’s in relatively limber, perhaps drug-preserved state for a near-septuagenarian, but really? Tim Noah’s nephew [Adam Levine] is singing that he can dance like him and Kesha’s only interested in guys collecting Social Security? Did our pop culture get stuck on “pause” at some point?
It seems a bit strange to me that he still performs and that people so young even know who Mick Jagger is. The Stones ought to be, at this point, headlining on Cruise ships and in Florida retirement homes.
Personally, I have a suspicion that on very damp mornings like this, I move exactly like Jagger (before he’s had plenty of meds).
The Independent reports on a less-than-warm White House appearance last February.
Most of his contemporaries have mellowed with age, but as he approaches his 70th birthday, Bob Dylan remains splendidly reluctant to embrace efforts to turn him into part of the fusty establishment he once railed against.
That, at least, is the experience of President Barack Obama, who has revealed that he was given what amounts to the bum’s rush by the musician when he visited the White House to perform at a concert celebrating the leaders of the Civil Rights movement.
Dylan, 69, was “sceptical” about performing his protest song “The Times They Are A-Changin” to the assembled dignitaries at February’s event. And while most musicians who perform for the most powerful man in the world ask for a “meet and greet” during their visit, Mr Obama told Rolling Stone magazine that Dylan refused to even speak with him. “He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practising before the set in the evening. He didn’t want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn’t show up to that.”
After performing, it was the same story. “He finishes the song, steps off the stage – I’m sitting right in the front row – comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin and then leaves. And that was it. He left. That was our only interaction with him.”
Mr Obama nonetheless described the experience as “a real treat,” adding: “That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little sceptical about the whole enterprise.”
In this 3:01 WALB-TV (Albany, GA) video reporting on Tea Party protests in South Georgia, we find at 2:41 former Velvet Underground drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker denouncing the advance of socialism and excessive federal spending.
Velvet Underground—Beginning to See the Light (1969) 4:43 video
Some people work very hard
but still they never get it right.
Well I’m beginning to see the light.
Hat tip to John Brewer.