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Rest in Peace - George Harrison
Liverpool February 24, 1943 - Los ngeles November 29, 2001

By Jeff Christensen (Reuters)
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Topic: Jagger: This Time It's Personal. Says He's Given Up Drink, Drugs and Partying Return to archive
11-18-01 10:03 PM
Jaxx am i the only one loving this?--all part of the pre tour 02 hype, right?
Jagger: This Time It's Personal

He says he's given up drink, drugs and partying. On his new album he sings about heartache and religion. But is Mick Jagger really ready to hang up his rock'n'roll shoes?
by David Lister
19 November 2001

There's just me and Mick Jagger in this hotel room, and after a few minutes he starts singing to me. I know. I'm sounding like a model in a court case. But funnily enough, it's a very wholesome conversation about the joys of family that brings on the unexpected crooning. I mention that in one song on his new solo album, he sings about his children downloading their childhood dreams on to computer screens. Surely that was the first time in his long career that he had ever sung about his children?

He thinks deeply for a moment, then sings quietly: "It is the evening of the day/ I sit and watch the children play." I haven't heard "As Tears Go By" much since the Rolling Stones recorded it and generously gave it to Marianne Faithfull to have a hit with an awfully long time ago. What a lot of conversational detours that could have opened up. But Mick's in a reverie of reminiscence himself, and I don't want to interrupt.

"I sang about children then," he says. "I wrote that song when I was 20. It was reflective though they weren't my children at that point," and he roars with laughter.

One thing that hasn't changed with the years is the Jagger smile, creasing up his face into innumerable laughter lines. It's a schoolboyish smile; goes with the 28in waist and other accoutrements a 58-year-old is not supposed to have. "That was a very mature song for a 20-year-old to write," I say. He nods, looking pleased. "Yes, it was."

Well, Mick Jagger doesn't get that many compliments from the press. He's wary of journalists who, he is convinced, either want to write about his being a louche and ageing lothario, or just his age, or just his loucheness, or maybe his divorce, and definitely the extremely young women he has been walking out with. Most of all, he is wary of interviewers who "bring too much baggage". That doesn't mean ones that want to kip on his floor, but ones who remember the Sixties. Talking about the Sixties bores him. So I won't tell him that I do remember one of his less rebellious moments, when he sent a message to Jimmy Savile on Top of the Pops that it was OK to play "Let's Spend The Night Together" as it was about having a "rave up", not about spending the night together. (Yeah, right, as a subsequent generation might say). And it would probably bore him to discuss, as a matter of academic musicology, the mid-Sixties rivalry between the Stones and the Beatles. In fact, I wouldn't have mentioned the Beatles at all. But he brings them up.

The Rolling Stones are shortly to announce another world tour. Have to ask, I'm afraid, Mick. Is this the last time? Has Jagger set a retirement date in his own mind? When will the Rolling Stones be put to bed? "The Stones would keep going even if they all died," he replies cryptically.

"Look at the Beatles. They are still a group in people's minds, and do you know when they did their last show? 1967. And I was there." Which goes to show that if you don't remember the Sixties properly, you were there; for the Beatles' last concert was actually in 1966. Jagger frowns. "Are you sure? Where was it, then?"

It was in San Francisco. Perhaps he's thinking of the live recording on television of "All You Need Is Love" in 1967, when he was, indeed, in the audience. Anyway, I say, the Stones are still performing, so you beat them. "Yes," he beams again, "by quite a lot."

So that's official, then. Now for rather more delicate matters. It has been a traumatic couple of years for Jagger. An unusually amicable divorce from Jerry Hall, whom he still adores (as he adores what he terms the "big extended family" he has gathered), followed the revelation that he had become the father of a baby boy by a Brazilian model. And now he is about to release a solo album, and a rather good one. Rolling Stone magazine (no relation) has given it plenty of stars, and it certainly competes with the last, underrated Rolling Stones album.

The reason that the new album, Goddess in the Doorway, and the divorce are linked is that this is, by Jagger's own admission, a starkly personal album. Women, honky tonk or otherwise, who featured in Rolling Stones' songs could have been anyone or no one. The women he sings about on this album are, one senses, much closer to home. There's a track called "Gun", which Jagger says is "full of harshness and bitterness. 'Under My Thumb' is very tame compared to 'Gun'". It goes, for those who care to sing along: "Why don't you just get a gun and shoot it through this heart of mine?"

So is that song about Jerry?

For the only time in our conversation, he looks alarmed. "Oh, we don't talk about that, David. I don't want to list the whos and the whys." And he gets up and walks round the room, much in a way that a child smacks at the air to make something disconcerting go away.

He finally agrees that "a number of the songs" are about his ex. I imagine a very touching song called "Don't Call Me Up" must be. It contains the lyrics: "I was trying to forget you, but you won't tell me how.../ Your picture plastered all over town/ You just wandered off the stage, left me crawling with the pain."

He enjoys a moment's triumph. "Funnily enough, that one isn't. It could be. But it isn't."

On the album he even sings about religion "Driving through the desert I found Jesus Christ." Is the new Mick Jagger a religious person? "Yeah, well, I think that I am. But what does it mean, 'religious'? That you're part of an organised religious group? Not particularly. That you have spiritual leanings? Yes. That's true."

In these songs, spirituality is just glimpses of some other plane of existence; as in 19th-century Romantic poetry, the occasional glimpse of another state of being, usually reflected in some observation of nature.

"I've always been spiritual. I wish it had been developed in some other way, but I think in our culture it rarely is. This is as far as we get."

And has it helped his songwriting that he has been through a period of unhappiness?

"That's a very old and difficult question. It's rooted in our whole Romantic notion of creativity. Can you write if you're rich? Can you write if you're happy? Maybe some people find it difficult to write if they're rich and happy. They're too complacent and they haven't got the motivation. And who wants to listen to a load of songs about 'I'm rich and happy'?"

At least that would be a memorable title for an album, I venture. But he's in full flow. "I hate listening to 12 tracks by someone moaning about how miserable they are: self-pitying and slow songs."

Have you heard the new Leonard Cohen album? I ask.

The Jagger smile flashes again: "I didn't bring him up, you did."

Yet for all the introspection, it does not appear that Jagger has been tempted to rethink his lifestyle.

He begs to differ. "I've already changed my lifestyle to accommodate the fact that I have to do all this, to go on stage and perform. I stopped partying, stopped taking drugs and drinking and all that." It might take some drinks and drugs to persuade people to believe that. Mind you, he needs to be in control of his faculties these days, having taken up the career of film producer (he is enjoying some success with the Second World War thriller, Enigma). And a Channel 4 documentary on him later this week even has him musing, presumably with some purpose, on how Prince Charles was surprised he had never had an honour. So maybe he is moving into a cleaner-living period. Or maybe not. For also in the film, his daughter Jade (by his first wife, Bianca), asks him to visit and bring a friend, adding: "Nobody younger than me, please... and nobody bigger.") The Channel 4 documentary is actually made by Jagger's own production company. Mick though not Channel 4 can be unashamed when it comes to image control.

And so, as the Rolling Stones prepare to do what they still do better than most stage shows around the world is Jagger prepared for the inevitable newspaper carping? The Mirror picture last time of the four Stones looking the worse for wear, with the caption: "Would you let your grandmother marry one?" has probably earnt a footnote in rock history.

"It's got worse and worse," sighs Jagger. "Does it just prove that journalists can add up how much four people's ages come to? Thank God Bill's not in the group. Audiences don't seem to worry it's only the press that seems to care. They are the ones who are old and old-fashioned and old hat."

But, of course, while it is wrong to demand that great rock stars retire, just because they are no longer in the first flush, Jagger will one day have to face the dilemma presented by the fact that the Stones have a live act that depends on high energy with an aggression and a youthful, sexual assertiveness.

Is there an age at which the Stones stop?

"Rock music has to have energy," he agrees. "It propels the whole thing. That's why people think that only young people can play rock music, and there's something in that, because young people have lots of energy."

But, he insists, those who harp on about the age of performers are missing the point.

"Rock'n'roll has been around for 50 years," Jagger says, and his measured tone gives the impression that this is something he wants to get off his chest.

"So it's inevitable that some of the people doing it are quite old and have been around a long time. You don't have to be a genius to work that out. But it has established for itself a rather venerable history. It may not be that intricate a form of music, or that intellectual a form of music, but it's certainly there and has established a tradition. Pink Floyd touring at their age is just as interesting to some people as Duke Ellington touring was."

It's a very reasonable argument. But it does, of course, evade the question, a fact that Jagger acknowledges with a giggle.

So, come on. For how long will the Stones keep performing?

"I don't know. For as long as they can still do it with some sense of dignity, I suppose."

And some sense of energy?

"Yes. Which will hopefully be for a little bit longer."

11-18-01 10:22 PM
Amy340 Where did this article appear? Thanks...
11-18-01 10:29 PM
Jaxx 11-19-02 Independent out of the uk. then reuters ,yahoo and abc picked up their edited versions of it.
[Edited by Jaxx]
11-19-01 12:36 AM
yellow1 Probably the best interview I've read in years !
11-19-01 10:23 AM
nankerphelge That's more like it -- I take back my Mick is Nuts comment of last week. This gives me reason to think maybe the ABC interview was a fluke or, as someone suggested, was largely due to the interviewer not doing her homework.

This interviewer clearly did their homework -- understands Jagger's reluctance to speak, and managed him well for a very good interview.

"I smell a world tour"
11-19-01 02:53 PM
Joey I like the way you smell .


11-19-01 05:51 PM

Hey YoungJoey!!!

Forgive me for "dipping" whhen i found yer chiba--i hope you don't think me too rude--but enuf was left, wasn't there?

11-19-01 08:27 PM
Joey Amen my Princess ........

My Chiba is your Chiba ...........

In fact , I put a little Chiba in your underwear drawer today .....enjoy . It is some " Black Indigio " from the " Sensi Smile " coffee shop in Amsterdam .

Tonight when I chase the dragon , and if the water may change to cherry wine , I will see your reflection in the foil as it transmorgrifies from silver to gold .

Time Out of Mind !!!!!!!!!

Joey von Moon look pretty
11-19-01 11:23 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl He's Given Up Drink, Drugs and Partying

I make the same promise to my wife Luca all days and I'm here... alive... to help you get your rocks ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooff hahaha

anybody seen my chiba?

11-19-01 11:23 PM

No, G, but i found those Tuies you was lookin' for.... ; )
11-19-01 11:31 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl LOL! I love you ~~6~

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