||Rolling Stone Mag
Rocking My Life Away
Is Sir Mick worthy of the knighthood?
"Every one of those English rock stars is just waiting for the knighthood," Bono said to me one night in a Washington, D.C., bar. "Regardless of how rebellious they once were or what their politics are, they all want that respectability. They just can't help themselves."
That was Bono in his yobbo mode -- the punky Irish outsider casting a cold eye from the wrong side of the class divide on the U.K. rock & roll world he had conquered. Of course he's right. To the band's credit, U2 recently declined the pleasure of performing for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, presumably because the irony of an Irish rock band paying tribute to the English royal family was too much even for Bono, a master of the unlikely coupling, to bear. But, predictably enough, the Englishmen -- Paul McCartney, Elton John, Eric Clapton, even, for heaven's sake, Ozzy Osbourne -- lined up for the privilege.
Also not performing was Mick Jagger. That wouldn't be noteworthy -- the Rolling Stones have hardly done much to endear themselves to the royals -- except that, like Paul McCartney, Elton John, Cliff Richard, George Martin and Bob Geldof before him, Jagger was about to be knighted. Media pundits, particularly in England, have had a field day with the notion of Sir Mick.
"Jagger does not deserve a knighthood," sniffed Philip Norman, who has written books about the Stones, the Beatles and Elton John. "There has to be some other dimension to a person's life who is given a knighthood, even if it's just an attempt to put something back into the country." Jagger's title, he concludes, is a "disgrace and travesty." Much has been made of Jagger's arrest for drug possession back in the Sixties and his fathering of children out of wedlock -- that the singer has "seven children by four different women" is a recurrent refrain of these critiques. "Perhaps he should go in for a bit of charity. What about unwed mothers?" suggested one expert on British royalty. "That's good charity. One that's very close to his heart."
Now far be it from me to discourage people from having a bit of sport about Jagger's ascendance to this particular height of social esteem. What happened to the sarcasm expressed in the Stones' album title, Their Satanic Majesties Request -- an acerbic pun on a phrase (Her Britannic Majesty) on English passports? What happened to the revolutionary spirit of "Street Fighting Man," the subversive ardor of "Sympathy for the Devil"? And wasn't it Jagger who sneered in a song tellingly titled "Respectable" that his estranged wife Bianca was "the easiest lay on the White House lawn" after she befriended President Gerald Ford's son Jack? And so on.
But all that has very little to do with why people are bothered by the idea of Jagger's knighthood. Their attitude really reflects a kind of envy -- and not of the Sir that is now in front of his name. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Jagger hasn't bothered to settle down and become safe and cuddly. Satisfaction is his great theme and the very sight of him still brings nothing to mind so quickly as the notion of wild desires and sated appetites. The tabloids are filled on a daily basis with his sexual exploits in the company of any number of beautiful young women. The Rolling Stones justifiably refuse to retire -- indeed, they're getting ready to tour the world again. And rather than lecturing the populace on worthy causes, Jagger prefers to keep his philanthropic contributions to himself -- an old-school virtue of discretion that, aptly enough, befits the notion of knighthood.
It's truly hilarious that some people think that bestowing a knighthood on Jagger somehow lowers the standards of the British peerage. Since the days of Henry VIII and right up to the present, having affairs, fathering children outside marriage and indulging in substance abuse and debauchery have been more like prerequisites for English royalty, rather than anything that would disqualify you for recognition.
What doesn't seem to have occurred to Jagger's critics is that perhaps he deserves the honor, not because he's a hearth-and-home-loving family man or because he has a pet issue to flog, but because, as the lead singer and one of the main songwriters of the Rolling Stones, he's an important artist. That point was evidently not lost on British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who supported Jagger's nomination, nor, interestingly, on Jagger himself. "It's a great recognition of what the band's achievements have been over the years we've been together," he said about his honor.
Nobody complained when, along with Jagger, playwright Harold Pinter and director Jonathan Miller were knighted this year. Both men have been controversial in the course of their storied careers, but because they primarily work in the theater, they are assumed to be men of distinction and deserving of whatever awards come their way. That's certainly true, but so is Mick Jagger.
Such meritocratic thinking does not come naturally to the English, however. They still view the world through the distorting prism of class. But the Rolling Stones have performed an enormous service to the British music scene. In fact, far from merely assisting their own country, they've done more than just about anyone else to bring American blues and R&B to a worldwide audience -- an audience that includes Americans who would never have heard that music if it weren't for the band.
So if the Queen wants to knight Mick Jagger, that's fine with me. And if he wants to accept, that's fine with me, too -- though, as far as I'm concerned, the company's a bit beneath him.
Mick Jagger Photo Gallery
[Edited by Jaxx]
||Considering that the whole English monarchy is a farce and a fairy tale, this is just another chapter in what has to be the most perverse game of make believe in the history of mankind. I mean really, an entire nation supporting the British royalty in absurd opulence just so their gossip hungry tabloids will have something to write about and the common-folk will have something to talk about whilst they drink their tea. So does Jagger deserve knighthood? In fantasy land, anything is possible.
||Oh let's all go hunting for skeletons in Mick's closet.
Any of these people ever heard of Wallace Of Simpson or Camilla Of Bowles?