May 6, 2017

"The Rolling Stones have multiple songs that are lyrically reprehensible to women and people of color — often both at the same time."

"If I were questioned about this topic at the Pearly Gates, I’d suggest that the Stones’ offensive attitudes had more to do with a craven desire to be provocative than any fundamental malignant worldview, but maybe I’m a fool. Whatever the true motivation behind them, a handful of the band’s songs have been tarred by Jagger and Richards’s sex and race insensitivity. There’s no getting around it. Then there’s the matter of appropriation...."

From the intro to "The Complete Works: Ranking All 373 Rolling Stones Songs/An honest look at the world’s greatest rock-and-roll band," by David Marchese, which I greatly enjoyed reading. (I'm a big fan of the 1960s albums, and even had my copy of the first album before it was released in the United States. I'm especially fond of "Between the Buttons" — perhaps only because of where it fit in my life story.)

67 comments:

John Lynch said...

I hope I die before I get old.

Curious George said...

Really? I missed that wehn I saw them at Chicago Stadium in 1975. Main floor. 13th row. Carlos Santana on percussion. Sorry wommins and peoples of color but what a show!

campy said...

Has Mr. Marchese ever heard of rap?

YoungHegelian said...

I feel so sorry for the willing dupes on the moderate Left who thought that they were going to use the hard post-Marxist Left against the righties, & that they would never, ever be its targets.

Riding the tiger & all that.

There is no pleasing the identity left. It's all Will To Power & they use the fact that the rest of us have a moral conscience against us. Stop apologizing. Stop bowdelizing history to suit them. Fight them at every turn, because if we don't, we won't have any history left.

The destruction of national history & its replacement by force of a new national identity was a standard of the hard Marxist left in all its incarnations. It's operating on the post-Marxist left now.

Bay Area Guy said...

Heh - to manufacture some real outrage, one should read the lyrics to "Brown Sugar" .

buwaya puti said...

Live by fashion, die by fashion.

One day all this stuff will be bowdlerized or banned. A higher level of tech will be used vs that in Fahrenheit 451, but that's where it's going. THE moment anything doesn't suit the zeitgeist, out.

Earnest Prole said...

Ah, the challenges of writing about great, problematic art. You could argue the Stones were merely trying to be provocative, except that their very best, most glorious stuff just happens to be their most vile.

Ann Althouse said...

Has Mr. Marchese ever heard of rap?"

Yeah, "Shattered" is #43.

bagoh20 said...

Yes, what we all love is sensitive rock and roll. Why can't all Rock be like Muskrat Love, Afternoon Delight, Having My Baby, or Feelings?

In the history of music The Stones are way down the list of insensitive lyrics. They are mere pikers at being offensive.

AReasonableMan said...

Performers like the Stones and Clapton directly stole from black blues performers but they were also very generous in acknowledging this theft and went out of their way to bring the spotlight onto the originators of the form. The theft was complex, since they never met the original performers and learnt everything from a handful of records, forcing them to be creative in adapting and expanding the vocabulary that they purloined.

Richards is happily married, at least in his second marriage, and a good father by all accounts. Jagger clearly has some issues with women, families and children.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Any ^%**% calls me colorless and I will beat his bloody face so red it will bring to mind Taylor Swift's "Red" album ("now we got bad blood").

Like Mettalica, I too will "splatter color on this grey."

Stones killed, perhaps literally for all I know, Gram because they were insanely jealous of lines like "paint a different color, on your front door, and tomorrow, we may still be there." At least I think so anyways.

AReasonableMan said...

bagoh20 said...
The Stones are way down the list of insensitive lyrics. They are mere pikers at being offensive.


I don't know. They certainly gave it their best shot:

Cocksucker Blues

Well, I'm a lonesome schoolboy
And I just came into town
Yeah, I'm a lonesome schoolboy
And I just came into town
Well, I heard so much about London
I decided to check it out

Well, I wait in Leicester Square
With a come-hither look in my eye
Yeah, I'm leaning on Nelson's Column
But all I do is talk to the lions

[Chorus]
Oh, where can I get my cock sucked?
Where can I get my ass fucked?
I may have no money
But I know where to put it every time

Well, I asked a young policeman
If he'd only lock me up for the night
Well, I've had pigs in the farmyard
Some of them, some of them, they're alright
Well, he fucked me with his truncheon
And his helmet was way too tight

[Chorus]

I'm a lonesome schoolboy in your town
I'm a lonesome schoolboy

The Godfather said...

When I saw "the matter of appropriation" I knew it was all BS.

Guildofcannonballs said...

All those felonies they committed resulting in death, but Justice saw Mick as sexy and cool, Justice was blind only to the drugs and gangs and financial malfeasance abounding the Stones Rolling surroundings.

furious_a said...

Yes, then there was the Sunset Boulevard billboard promoting the release of Black and Blue.

furious_a said...

Sudden-Realization ARM displays his mastery of the obvious by suddenly realizing that artists have been copying each other since the first epics.

Jeebus, what a tight-assed church-lady.

Bill Peschel said...

Imma gonna let him finish, but not before telling him that in a world where "Piss Christ" is not only praised, accepted, and government funded, he can be my cock holster.

Bill Peschel said...

But furious_a, the Stones' crime (like Led Zeppelin) is that they made more money off it than the black musicians.

And they're white, because racism.

I wonder if Ray Charles caught this kind of shit for appropriating old black musicians' work.

The Cracker Emcee said...

What a douche. Exactly the sort of person who was a target of rock in it's days of integrity.

AReasonableMan said...

furious_a said...
artists have been copying each other since the first epics.


Did I say they didn't? We are apparently self-moderating today but if we weren't I would say that you are a pathetic dumb-ass for coming up with such a weak straw man.

Otto said...

They are just Words, words, words in a song. We are in snowflake territory again. Feminist society.

walter said...

It's kinda obvious the Stones "appropriated" blues/black music.
Less obvious is Jagger's often "appropriation" of a Cockney accent when speaking.

Carol said...

I wonder if Ray Charles caught this kind of shit for appropriating old black musicians' work.

Ray Charles caught massive shit for appropriating the sounds of the Sanctified Church. Whatever that was.

buwaya said...

Fahrenheit 451 is well worth another read.

The reason books were banned in F451 is precisely because they annoyed people, multiple minorities, with their old fashioned hangups.

That and the loss of the reading habit due to all-absorbing interactive entertainment.

The Stones' are some of the villains of the deculturization of the world, but it seems they are not immune to the process.

tcrosse said...

Rock n Roll is insensitive to the needs of minorities, women, and the LGBT community. That's its great appeal.

Earnest Prole said...

The Stones are way down the list of insensitive lyrics. They are mere pikers at being offensive.

Yeah, no. The version of "Stray Cat Blues" from Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out went like this:

I can see that you're just thirteen years old
But I don't want your ID
You look so lonesome and you're so far from home
It's no hanging matter
It's no capital crime

You're a strange stray cat
Don't scratch like that
You're a strange stray cat
Bet your mother don't know you fight like that
I bet she never heard you scream like that

Sebastian said...

"The Rolling Stones have multiple songs that are lyrically reprehensible to women and people of color — often both at the same time. If I were questioned about this topic at the Pearly Gates, I’d suggest that the Stones’ offensive attitudes had more to do with a craven desire to be provocative than any fundamental malignant worldview, but maybe I’m a fool. Whatever the true motivation behind them, a handful of the band’s songs have been tarred by Jagger and Richards’s sex and race insensitivity. There’s no getting around it. Then there’s the matter of appropriation" Boy, that sure is enjoyable -- the prose, the insight, the political judgment.

Rene' Saunce said...

I'm so glad the big list of "things that I should find offensive" is growing.

Traveling back in time to scavenge for offenses - AWESOME use of life minutes.

Thank you, progressives. Couldn't think or feel victimized without you.

Biff said...

I saw a late night documentary made almost entirely of "behind the scenes" footage on the Stones recently. Although it was not mentioned in the narrative, I was struck by how diverse and integrated the Stones' scene was, ranging from their audience to the people they partied and played music with, to the people with whom they just seemed to hang out with. Much more so than almost any other bands I've seen in similar documentaries.

AReasonableMan said...

I blame it all on Jagger's tiny penis. He also has small hands.

Earnest Prole said...

The appropriation rap against the Stones is simply the author mouthing some fashionable words he heard. Saying the Stones appropriated their music is like saying that water is wet: of course they did. Anyone with the slightest familiarity with folk music knows every bit of it has been handed down, seized, plagiarized, and reshaped in a million ways -- that’s the whole point of pop music. People who get upset about that aren’t interested in music in the first place.

YoungHegelian said...

Bill Murray (Weekend Update Host): Last year, the Rolling Stones album "Some Girls" was attacked by black leaders as being racist and it seems that time has not diminished the furor over it, as it was recently the subject of a speech delivered by the Reverend Jesse Jackson at an event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court's desegregation decision. Here to comment is Update's token sociologist, Garrett Morris. ...

[Polite applause for a bespectacled Garrett Morris who looks dapper and dicty in a suit and tie.]

Garrett Morris: [dignified, dripping with snooty condescension] Now, I'd like to speak about the subject of a certain Mick Jagger - of the Rolling Stones. ... And I'm going to talk about the song he sang -- a song in which he sings these very words: "Black girls - just want to have sex - all night long." ...

Now, Mr. Jagger, there is only one question I want to ask you -- Jaggs. ... And you better have the answer, man, you better have the answer, since you have besmirched the character of black women. Therefore, here is my question, Jaggs. [pause, takes off eyeglasses, suddenly drops the pose, pleading] Where are all of these black broads, man? ... [huge cheers and applause] Hey, like, where ARE they, baby? You got any phone numbers for me, baby? ... Please send 'em to me. [puts glasses back on, dignified again] Thank you. ... [enthusiastic applause]


Source

William said...

I wouldn't accuse Miles Davis of appropriation in his Sketches of Spain album. More like derivative of Ravel. Is derivative worse than appropriation?......I glanced through the listing. The Rolling Stones sure had quite a number of forgettable songs. I've still got some of their albums, but the only songs I listen to are those on my playlist. In a fifty plus year career, they only have about a dozen or so songs that achieved playlist status. I wonder who will be ranked higher in a hundred years: Mick Jagger or Hoagy Carmichael?

Ann Althouse said...

Covering a song isn't theft. They pay royalties. They switched to writing songs because that's what you need to do to make money. Read Richards's autobiography. They were locked in a room and told to write and forced themselves to come up with "As Tears Go By." They started out playing the songs they knew and loved like any cover band.

rhhardin said...

It's not offensive in any real world of any time.

tim maguire said...

"Appropriation" is conclusve proof that no idea is so stupid that it won't become mainstream on the left provided it cater to the right interest groups.

buwaya said...

The problem of appropriation, partly, is that so so much is available for appropriating that wont be. One could mine the past for tunes, forever, and rearrange them to suit modern tastes, and no one would be the wiser.

There is simply an enormous mass of this stuff that few know about.

Thursday night we went to the SF Conservatory for a recital of baroque guitar pieces, Spanish, Italian and French. Totally new to me, entire schools and periods.

Bob R said...

A good read. It's always so much better when a ranking is done by one person - much more style and personality. Don't let the lefty virtue signaling put you off. I didn't see one song that was way out of place because of "problematic" lyrics. Under My Thumb is around 50, Brown Sugar is 10. You can argue with any of the places, but it's his list, and it's good enough, and his comments are interesting enough, to make the argument fun.

He was lazy to use the "cultural appropriation" tag, but in the body of the list he is more careful to talk about the quality of the covers and Jagger's use of African-American vocal styles. He's not like so many stupid people doing the "cultural appropriation" gotcha without any thought behind it. Hopefully, this will fade out like the "hopefully-police" fad did.

madAsHell said...

If you spend any time studying Keith's riffs, then you find out that he doesn't have that many colors on his palette, but wow....can he mix paint!!

Bob R said...

@madAsHell - That's why G-tuning made such a huge difference. It's like he had learned a new instrument. (And "not many colors" should probably be "not many colors for someone with a 350-song catalog.")

tim maguire said...

AReasonableMan said...
furious_a said...
artists have been copying each other since the first epics.

Did I say they didn't?


Indirectly, yes, you did. Your use of "stole" to describe artistic inspiration exposes you as an ignorant philistine.

epador said...

You mean, like Democrats?

AReasonableMan said...

tim maguire said...
Your use of "stole" to describe artistic inspiration exposes you as an ignorant philistine.


Me and Picasso, apparently.
Pablo Picasso said...
“good artists borrow, great artists steal.”


The British blues players were not part of the US rural and then urban blues tradition. They weren't born to it and their knowledge of it was largely secondary, through records until their own popularity made it economically practical to set up tours for black artists. The British players self consciously stole that style and then equally self consciously reworked it to make it more appealing to their own audiences. If you read their own words they make no secret of this. With the exception of Clapton and Peter Green they were barely adequate purveyors of traditional and urban blues styles, but their own creative contributions are obviously some of the better popular music of the time.

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laslo Spatula said...

Something wrong with the list. Songs are in the wrong order.

I am Laslo.

Earnest Prole said...

Speaking of reprehensible, Guy Peellaert did a great set of Rolling Stones portraits in his 1973 book Rock Dreams, and if you google images for “guy peellaert rolling stones” you’ll see his most famous.

Earnest Prole said...

putting quotes around “guy peellaert rolling stones” makes it the third image instead of the first

AReasonableMan said...

Earnest Prole said...
Speaking of reprehensible


I remember when that book came out. At the time people were most offended by the image of Ray Charles.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

The Rolling Stones spoke the truth.

Which one(s) are they even complaining about, in particular? "Some Girls?"

English girls are so prissy. I can't stand them on the telephone. Some times I wanna take the receiver off the hook I don't ever want them to call me at home.

Black girls just want to get f*cked all night, I just don't have that much jazz.

The Rolling Stones knew women. They had more of them than this comments section combined - x 100. The complainers are just pissed at those truths being revealed.

The professional victims need to start learning that claiming a grievance doesn't mean you're perfect and above criticism. Hasn't the Trump Presidency taught them anything?

Earnest Prole said...

I just don't have that much jazz

I don't think the Rolling Stones had any jazz.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Jagger clearly has some issues with women, families and children.

Women have those issues also.

Find me a woman who doesn't have issues with women, or families, and I'll gladly buy her a drink!

Most women don't have issues with children, though. Until they have them, of course. But before that they idealize them and the opportunity they represent to finally have power over creatures that act even more helpless than they do.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

I don't think the Rolling Stones had any jazz.

They had blues. Or at least LZ did.

TBH I'm not even sure if that's exactly how the lyric goes. Jazz, jam. Something like that.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Marriage: Betting someone half your shit that you will love them forever.

Change that law and then I'll believe that American women deserve to be considered as socially equal to men.

Earnest Prole said...

At the time people were most offended by the image of Ray Charles.

A blind black man at the wheel of a car with his arm around a redheaded white woman, driving into the dusk or dawn -- the very image of American freedom.

Earnest Prole said...

Jazz, jam. Something like that.

That was my leetle joke.

Fernandinande said...

"lyrically reprehensible to women and people of color — often both at the same time."

Wow!

I can walk and chew gum - often both at the same time!

AReasonableMan said...
I don't know. They certainly gave it their best shot:
Cocksucker Blues


IIRC, they put out that song to fulfill a contract they didn't like, so they made it unplayable.

That silly song list left out their best songs, which are live versions on "Ya Ya's" or the Altamont DVD.

I have 72 versions of Gimme Shelter.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"See it come along and
Don't know where it's from
Oh, yes you will find out"

Read more: Rolling Stones - I Am Waiting Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I did and do like this song from the film, but not the soundtrack interestingly enough, Rushmore.

Did Tony find out or just go black and into infinite silence, finding out nothing ever again for eternity?

Static Ping said...

"Cocksucker Blues" AKA "Schoolboy Blues" has an interesting story behind it. The Rolling Stones had originally signed with the Decca label after the label famously refused to sign The Beatles. By 1970 the two parties had come to a mutual loathing and the Stones really wanted out. The good news was that the band had fulfilled all the album requirements. The bad news is the contract stipulated that Decca was owed one more single and being Decca they we not going to waive the requirement.

The result was basically "You want another single? Here's your damn single. Also, f*** you!" The song is offensive. That was the point. The Stones figured that Decca would never release the thing which meant that Decca would not profit from their final act of pique. The contract never said it had to be a commercially viable single and everyone involved decided that a final divorce was in the best interest of everyone at that point. The song itself was never released other than some promo singles and, for some reason, in a collection in West Germany. If you want to hear the song, the best and possibly only avenue is the famous bootleg.

Static Ping said...

Williams: I have 50 of their songs on my playlist, plus a few Jagger solo efforts. I suspect that my playlist is longer than yours.

So I skimmed through the list looking for the lowest rated song that I have on my playlist. It's "Mixed Emotions" at #254. Rather an odd rating for a #5 song in the US. Not that chart position really means quality - there are #1 hits by various artists that I dislike - but it takes some balls to rank it behind over a hundred songs that the casual fan has never given a listen. Related, I only need to get to #15 to find a song that I do not know.

Static Ping said...

bagoh20: Yes, what we all love is sensitive rock and roll. Why can't all Rock be like Muskrat Love, Afternoon Delight, Having My Baby, or Feelings?

"Afternoon Delight" is a song about having sex at lunch. I guess that qualifies as "sensitive" by some definition, depending the persons involved. Rolling is probably required, at least if it is fun. Rocks would suggest a poor scouting of the love bed.

tim maguire said...

Blogger AReasonableMan said...
tim maguire said...
Your use of "stole" to describe artistic inspiration exposes you as an ignorant philistine.


The British blues players were not part of the US rural and then urban blues tradition. They weren't born to it and their knowledge of it was largely secondary, through records until their own popularity made it economically practical to set up tours for black artists.


So when you said "stole" you meant "culturally appropriated"? Thanks for clearing that up.

AReasonableMan said...

tim maguire said...
So when you said "stole" you meant "culturally appropriated"?


No I meant stole. But you are an idiot so words have no real meaning for you.

John said...

Anyone who uses the term cultural appropriation is a moron who should be immediately dismissed as such. Cultures influence one another. Nothing is completely original. The call and response and twelve bar structure of the blues came from white Protestant hymns. Are black people guilty of cultural approbation?

It such a vile and disgusting term. Anyone who uses it identifies themselves as being a vile, stupid and awful person.

AReasonableMan said...

John said...
The call and response and twelve bar structure of the blues came from white Protestant hymns.


Curious to see a convincing citation for this. It is not the generally accepted understanding.

John said...

Curious to see a convincing citation for this. It is not the generally accepted understanding.

Yes it is.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4632964

Every music tradition has some form of call and response. What we know as Gospel music was a combination of the Scottish Protestent form of it and the African form of it. Black Gospel music was heavily influenced and the outgrowth of traditional white Protestant music. By the idiotic logic of cultural appropriation, black slaves appropriated white music.

Most people don't realize this because they are stupid and believe the fairy tale of black people bringing over black music from Africa and inventing American music in the process.

AReasonableMan said...

No mention of the blues in that article. No support for your claim regarding the origin of the twelve bar form.

This is closer to the generally accepted account and even this glosses over the fact that the blues existed for some considerable time before WC Handy.

Mrs. Bear said...

I don't quite grasp the point of accusing people of "cultural appropriation". If I am understanding correctly, when Mick and Keith and Mr. Clapton, etc. "stole" black music, this was somehow a Bad Thing. What are they SUPPOSED to have done, when they heard the blues? Should they have said to themselves, "Gee, this music speaks to the deep longings of my soul, but since people from a different place, who don't look like me, invented it, I had better not aspire to touch it, and stick instead to Childe ballads"? Not that there's anything wrong with Childe ballads - Fairport Convention did pretty well with them - but where is the sin here?