||November 18, 2001
Jagger's flying solo again
By JANE STEVENSON -- Toronto Sun
'Her flesh is smooth and supple, and velvet as the night/ Her eyes are shot with diamonds, a mouth full of delight," Mick Jagger sings on the yearning title track from his fourth solo album, Goddess In The Doorway, in stores Tuesday.
Is the Rolling Stones frontman, single again since splitting in 1999 from wife Jerry Hall after 22 years together, talking about anyone in particular?
After all, he had a five-month relationship with model Sophie Dahl, granddaughter of best-selling children's author Roald Dahl, which ended earlier this year, and more recently was linked with the newly single actress Minnie Driver, who broke off her engagement to actor Josh Brolin. (More on that later.)
"Goddess In The Doorway is really representative of love generally -- that one's not about one particular person," the 58-year-old singer says down the line from Los Angeles recently. "Goddess In The Doorway is about the elusive nature of love. It can be such a fleeting thing. You see it there and it's just fluttering and it's gone. And it sort of can be a metaphor for more than just love, or women, or love of women."
But what about another new song called Gun, said to be about Jagger's devastation over Hall divorcing him because of the love child he had with Brazilian model Lucian Morad? Hall and Jagger are now said to be good friends.
"You read that in The Sun newspaper. Only in The Sun newspaper!" Jagger responds good-naturedly, when I bring up the report linking Hall and the song. (And, just to be clear, he's talking about the British tabloid, not The Toronto Sun.)
"No, it wasn't really written about her, you know," Jagger continues. "That was a really strange song. I'm not ... someone (who's) very violent. I mean, I don't really like using guns too much, you know, even for sport. So you come up with these lines and these melodies that go with them and you think, 'Where did that come from? Why do I feel so strongly about that?'
"And so you go, 'Ah, well. I'll just carry on writing it and see where I'm going with that, and then you like the result. And you say, 'Well, that's how I felt that moment. I was angry. That's the way it is.' A lot of times songs are very much of a moment, that you just encapsulate. They come to you, you write them, you feel good that day, or bad that day."
A sample of the Gun lyrics: "You tried to stretch me on the rack/ I saw you laughing when I cracked/ You broke my will, you broke my back/ On the wheel of uncertainty/ Why don't you just get a gun and shoot it through this heart of mine."
Given the subject matter, he also doesn't think Goddess is more personal than any other solo album.
"I don't know. I think it's direct. Personal -- I don't know what that means. I tried to make contact on this record. It's what I wanted to do, without too much clutter, without a lot standing the way, and then trying to make a direct line between the author and the listener."
But since Jagger says in the press notes that his new album is about "love and spirituality," how is he doing on both fronts?
This question makes him burst into laughter.
"It's hard to come up with a sort of one-liner on what the record's about," he says in his posh British accent. "But I mean, it is about love, relationships. But it's not only restricted (to that) and there's quite a lot of observations and there's quite a lot of humour, and the leavening of spirituality, which I think is all part of everybody's makeup."
It also doesn't mean that Jagger's gotten used to the press constantly writing about his love life in his post-Hall phase.
"It's like everyone I have dinner with, I'm having an affair with," he says. "Who was it I met the other day? Minnie Driver! There were like eight of us at dinner and I never met Minnie Driver and she seems charming, but I mean that's the only time I've ever met her. And then I was reading I was having (an affair) because she's just broken up, so that was a natural. But people don't bother to check with anything like that anymore. They just like to speculate in print. We like fact-checking!"
For the record, Jagger is open to meeting someone special. Some day.
"I'm sure I could be in a full-time relationship but I'm not at the moment. I don't think that being in a full-time relationship is necessarily for everybody all of the time. It's not necessarily some state of grace that you're in, you know, but I think it's great and who knows what will happen in the future?"
In the meantime, Goddess is Jagger's first solo album since 1993's Wandering Spirit. He says the reason for releasing his own album as opposed to a Rolling Stones record was simple.
"It's (been) a while," Jagger says. "And really, I'd done a very long project on (the Rolling Stones' 1997 album) Bridges To Babylon. I was on the road for ages with that, and when I came off the road, I thought, 'Well, the next studio thing I want to do, I want to do on my own.' "
Among those making guest appearances on Goddess are Bono, Pete Townshend, Lenny Kravitz, Wyclef Jean, Aerosmith's Joe Perry and Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas. His daughters, Elizabeth and Georgia May Jagger, also sing backup vocals on the album-ending song Brand New Set Of Rules.
"They love to be in the room," Jagger says of his girls. "And they come in the recording studio and they wander in, 'cause I did a lot in my house, and they say, 'Hey, I want to sing on that, Dad!' 'Okay, here's the mic!' They're good at it. They're great fun. They love music and they love doing it."
The same could be said of Jagger and his A-list guests. Their presence seems to have given Jagger a boost in the energy department on his new album, although he maintains most of the 12 songs were done well before he got to the collaborating part.
"A lot of this stuff, the majority of it all, was done with myself and a friend of mine called Matt Clifford (the former Stones keyboardist). And yes, we did have a lot of collaborators and some of them came in and upped the energy even more from what it was on completed tracks, like Pete Townshend (Joy, Gun) and Bono (Joy), and I think they really helped. They give it variety and energy, as you say. The tune I did with Lenny Kravitz (God Gave Me Everything) was a collaboration. I was working on songs also with Rob Thomas (Visions Of Paradise). So you know you get a different melodic feel, you just get a different sensibility than you would just on your own."
As for how it's different than a Stones album -- Jagger confirmed in a Sun article published Oct. 23 that the band would be touring next year in celebration of their 40th anniversary -- the singer says there's not as much pressure.
"It's a different process 'cause it's just me playing the guitar, to start with, and no one else," he says. "I mean, the Rolling Stones has its own persona, a very long-lived one, and it has its own expectations from listeners. And you just have to paint a fairly different picture when you do a solo record. You don't have to do what's expected of you on a Rolling Stones record and so you can go off in slightly different directions."
Like on the funny, rollicking new jet-set song Everybody's Getting High, set in the worlds of film and fashion.
"I'm checkin' out the Kung Fu actor/ Boy, is he way up his ass," Jagger sings. "He won't even talk to me/ But he wants to show me how to dance."
When I ask to whom he's referring, Jagger starts laughing again, and gets coy.
"Ah! You've got to figure it out. I can't reveal. I can't tell you that."
||Today's Toronto Star
An Old Rocker Learns a Few New Tricks
Pop Music Critic
YOU WOULDN'T expect Mick Jagger to put out a solo album without calling in a few friendly favours.
On past sabbaticals from the Rolling Stones, the 58-year-old has called upon the likes of veteran keyboardist Billy Preston, guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck, jazzer Herbie Hancock and reggae giant Sly Dunbar to lend heft to his efforts.
The Goddess In The Doorway, arriving in stores Tuesday, is no exception.
The album, the fourth that Jagger has recorded under his own name and the first since 1993's Wandering Spirit, features cameos by U2's Bono, The Who's Pete Townshend and Aerosmith's Joe Perry, along with Lenny Kravitz and Wyclef Jean.
For all that star power, the disc sounds more fluid than the usual parade of pop celebrity, which partially explains why it is being hailed as Jagger's best solo effort yet.
"It's a fine line," says Jagger during a recent phone conversation, "but I don't think any of (the contributions) are artificial.
OPEN WIDE: Mick Jagger's fourth solo album, The Goddess In The Doorway, goes on sale Tuesday.
"They're all friends or at least people I've known before. None of them are stuck up there for their marquee value alone. Bono and Pete and Lenny are people I've know for years and years and years."
A couple of the contributors are even nearer and dearer to Jagger's heart: daughters Elizabeth, 17, and Georgia May, 9, who sing backup on the concluding track, "Brand New Set Of Rules."
"It's nice to have the family aboard," he says. "I did a lot of the work on this record at home. And my children were in and out of the studio a lot, saying `Can I sing on this one?' So I had to find some work for them. And they did well."
Jagger, working with keyboardist Matt Clifford, wrote most of the material for the album at his home in the French countryside. Their efforts resulted in a wide-ranging effort in which anthemic rockers such as "God Gave Me Everything" blend fluidly with the quieter pop of "Don't Call Me Up."
The one thing Jagger didn't want to do is replace one band, the Rolling Stones, with another, preferring to let the line-up rotate freely from song to song. "If you want to do a track that's more like Caribbean hip hop (`Hideaway'), you don't necessarily want the same band as a very American-sounding tune like `Visions Of Paradise.' It's a different feel.
"If you wanted to do a big record of show tunes, you'd get the best orchestra, the best conductor and the best arranger, and you'd do it live in the studio. But for this kind of record, you don't do it like that.
"Eclecticism is more acceptable now than it once was. People are more open-minded. In fact, I think people want records to have an eclectic feel. They don't want the same sound on track one as track 12.
"You hope that the glue comes from the same person singing all the time. And I play the guitar on every track, so you have some glue there as well. You just hope you're going to hold the whole thing together."
Another thread is the theme of spirituality, which weaves its way through various songs, including the title track, the Bono-assisted "Joy" and "God Gave Me Everything."
"I sometimes wondered, `How did this (spirituality) nudge it's way in?' But it seemed to keep coming out, so I ran with it.
"I have my mystical moments. I wouldn't say I'm a religious person in the sense of organized religion. I'm not a great churchgoer. But I have my spiritual moments. It's very much a part of everyone's life."
||One for the Road:
Mick Goes on 'Tour'
link. We all missed Mick Jagger's tour.
That is, unless you were in L.A. Thursday night with Jack Nicholson, Meg Ryan, Billy Crudup, Heath Ledger and others as Jurassic Jagger performed tunes from his new album, "Goddess in the Doorway," at the tiny El Rey Theater.
"This is the world tour for this album," said the fit-at-58 rocker. "You can say you were at every gig."
Fear not: The Jaggernaut will still roll our way. On Thursday, ABC will air "Being Mick," a documentary that reveals a more open and reflective star than we've seen before. Ditto a profile in Rolling Stone magazine, in which Jagger confides that he has written many sensitive ballads over the years songs that bandmate Keith Richards has vetoed. "More fast numbers, that's the dictum from Keith," Jagger lets on.
But the kinder, gentler Jagger comes out on the album, in duets with Bono, Lenny Kravitz, Wyclef Jean, Pete Townshend and others. He even reveals his spirituality in "Joy," about "the joy of creation, inspiring you to a love of God," Jagger told writer David Fricke. He has become more resolute since Sept. 11, he says: "It's a difficult time. But we're living in this together."
(Read Jim Farber's review of the album in today's ShowTime section.)
Perhaps his approaching 60th birthday, coupled with the 40th anniversary of the Rolling Stones, is cause for reflection. The singer allows in the documentary that he's disappointed he has never been dubbed Sir Mick. Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bob Geldof heck, even Cliff Richard all have been knighted. Clues to why Mick hasn't can be found in "Old Gods Almost Dead," Stephen Davis' new book on the Stones, which details (shock!) Jagger's arrest for possession of speed and (gasp!) his illegitimate children.
Return of Ye Olde Icons
Jagger phones in his new disk,
but McCartney's at his melodic best
By JIM FARBER
PAUL McCARTNEY "DRIVING RAIN" (CAPITOL)
MICK JAGGER "GODDESS IN THE DOORWAY" (VIRGIN)
ublic figures have to carve out their own privacy. With the world always watching and taking notes they must decide for themselves which face to show the media and how much of their inner lives to disclose, or disguise, in their work.
Two of pop's most public figures, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger, have their own patented ways of keeping us at bay. McCartney does it by shielding his pained side, presenting the world an image of unfailing sunniness. Jagger does it by banishing all earnest remarks, communicating only through glib comments and clever leers.
Now, however, both icons have created albums that aim to offer a new kind of intimacy. McCartney's effort, his first of original material in four years, finds him finally dealing with the loss of his wife, Linda. Jagger's platter, his first solo work in eight years, separates him from the camouflage of the Rolling Stones to offer what his bio calls "the most personal work in his illustrious career."
Not that fulfilling such a claim would take much for Jagger. He has always been a hugely elusive figure, trapped in the roles of satyr, jet-setter and party host. For more than a decade, he has been known less as a revealing recording artist than as a riveting live performer. His appearances are defined by well-choreographed stage moves and elaborate physical tics that have turned him into a singing, dancing caricature of himself. He has become an Al Hirschfeld sketch come to life.
While Keith Richards seems both accessible and grounded by his focus on playing, Jagger seems like a hologram or a piece of conceptual art. He's the eternally preserved '60s notion of rock 'n' roll incarnate.
Theoretically, a solo album from Jagger should chip some of that image away, making him seem more open and vulnerable. Yet we get nothing of the sort on "Goddess." From the musicianship and production to the performance and the lyrics, everything sounds cold and corporate. It doesn't even sound like a contemporary version of corporate. It's more like an '80s version of it.
Even on the Stones' weakest albums and to be honest, they haven't put out a great one in 20 years Jagger at least has an organic band to rely on. Here, everything sounds stitched together by studio clock-punchers. He calls on a host of "hot" names to help fashion a cynical hit from it all. There's a Lenny Kravitz faux classic-rock cut, a Rob Thomas pop number and a Wyclef Jean Caribbean-inflected track. But none has the snap it requires.
Other guest stars sound curiously generic. You'd never know it was Pete Townshend wind-milling through his guitar runs on "Gun." Likewise, Bono's vocal on "Joy" is smoothed into anonymity.
Jagger himself sounds too mannered to make any of his lyrics about elusive loves, or vindictive ones, stick. He all but admits that in a TV special about the making of the album, which airs this Thursday on ABC at 9 p.m. In it, he talks repeatedly of the importance of singing "in character." If only that persona weren't so formulaic, confining and aloof.
McCartney's album has much more warmth to it. But it's telling that he chose to write of his distress over Linda's death only at the point where he was pretty much over it. Even a rare song that deals with the loss head-on, "Lonely Road," finds him vowing to veer from that sad place.
Another song, "There Must Have Been Magic," deals with the luck of the couple's meeting rather than the tragedy of their early parting. It may or may not be telling that the one song he titled for his new fiancee, "Heather," has hardly any lyrics at all.
Then again, McCartney was never a lyric man. He's a melodist in fact, the most consistently strong one in the last four decades of pop. Even his silliest love songs have glorious tunes.
Those on the new album prove no exception. A song like "Tiny Bubble" has a Beatles-y buoyancy, while "Driving Rain" has all the tunefulness and hooks of an ideal single. It's all joyful to a fault, with fluid melodies, toe-tapping beats and words that embrace gloomy days as if they were the most radiant imaginable. There's an insouciance to it all. And the songs' very simplicity and refusal to give in to darkness exude a particularly touching charm.
If McCartney is still holding depth at bay, at least he's doing so with a wink that indicates what he's leaving out. And that creates an intimacy all its own.
[Edited by JadedfadedJUnkiEnOSe]