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Pick of the day: Bill Wyman imagines Mick Jagger responding to Keith Richards' book

By J. Freedom du Lac

No, not that Bill Wyman.

This Bill Wyman is a music journalist (and infrequent Washington Post contributor), not the former bass player in a mighty rock-and-roll band. And this Wyman has written a wildly creative and deeply reported piece for Slate in which he imagines how Mick Jagger might respond to his Glimmer Twin's new memoir.

The long and winding essay -- "Please Allow Me To Correct a Few Things" -- so expertly nails Jagger's point-of-view and voice (along with all the central and tangential facts) that it fooled more than a few people into thinking that it was an actual Mick Jagger essay that mistakenly wound up being delivered to the wrong Bill Wyman. You'll find at least one example on This Very Website.

If you have the slightest interest in the Stones or rock-and-roll history and hubris, Wyman's piece is a must-read.

And then, read Wyman's liner notes about Wyman's Slate piece, in which he explains the why and the how -- and also the what:

"There’s been some confusion about the piece, besides people thinking it was real. Some say it was parody, some satire.

"It’s neither.

"It’s just a book review, done to make a central point."

Read both pieces to discover what, exactly, that point is. You can thank me later.

By J. Freedom du Lac  | November 9, 2010; 12:01 PM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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A fairly uninteresting read, especially once we are let in on the open secret that this wasn't written by Mick Jagger and mistakenly received by the wrong Bill Wyman. I usually dislike rock critics trying to write artistic pieces based on the true artists.

Taking all that into account, there are some plausible sentiments contained in this tale. But there are too few to mention. The problems with the author's insights are many and are should be exposed.

The first problem is that Mick Jagger has always been more than a part of Keith Richards' song writing baggage. While the "Keef rif" is almost always what rams a classic Stones song into your gut, it is Mick's way with the vocals that give the songs the dirty sex appeal. Yes, the musical hook of "Honky Tonk Women" is committed to rock and roll legend, but with out the swaggering vocals and lyrics of Mick Jagger, the song would never have been a number one hit. "She had to heave me right across her shoulder..." Wow. What a great image. And that dirty image which many lyrics convey is one of the most enduring legacies of the Stones. And that mostly came from Mick Jagger.

I would also argue that the Stones have put out some pretty good music since "Some Girls" (1978). In fact, I would say few bands who started in 1989 or sooner can match the number of great rockers that the Stones have put out since then (that would be from their "Steel Wheels" LP forward). They could probably do an entire rocking concert using just those songs. An good example is "Voodoo Lounge". That album, while not "Beggers Banquet," is really overlooked. It contains some great songs. And the song "Rough Justice" from their last album "A Bigger Bang" rock harder than most other songs by bands half the Stones ages.

All in all, the Stones aren't what they used to be, but who is. What is more important is that they were who they were and rock and roll will never be the same because of it.

Posted by: jptjptjpt | November 10, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Okay, just for the fun of it, here is an imaginary set list using songs from 1986's "Dirty Work" forward. I start with "Dirty Work" because that is when the author declares the official decline of the Stones to be complete. The list will not include any covers they might have done in this period. (The songs are listed based on when the album was released, not in how they might best be presented live):

"One Hit (to the body)" - Dirty Work. A really cool Keith riff matched by great vocals that highlight the tension between Mick and Keith.

"Winning Ugly" - Dirty Work. The great thing about this song is the chorus. That would have people standing on their seats in no time. Great snarling lyrics by Mick.

"Sad, Sad, Sad" - Steel Wheels. A good rocker.

"Mixed Emotions" - Steel Wheels. I admit the lyrics are fluffy, but the melody and chorus are infectious.

"Terrifying" - Steel Wheels. A cool, slinky, sexy Mick song.

"Blinded by Love" - Steel Wheels. Nice ballad.

"Rock and a Hard Place" - Steel Wheels. Good political rocker.

"Can't Be Seen" - Steel Wheels. A great Keith song.

"Almost Hear You Sigh" - Steel Wheels. Another beautiful ballad.

"Slipping Away" - Steel Wheels. Keith back to the mic.

"Love Is Strong" - Voodoo Lounge. Snarling bluesy rocker. Great Mick vocals. Cool Mick harmonica.

"You Got Me Rocking" - Voodoo Lounge. Need I say more? It's a good stadium show rocker.

"Sparks Will Fly" - Voodoo Lounge. Another good rocker.

"The Worst" - Voodoo Lounge. A great Keith song, as the author mentioned. May be his best ever.

"Moon Is Up" - Voodoo Lounge. I don't know how this one would go over live, but on the LP it is great. Great vibe and very cool Charlie drums.

"Out of Tears" - Voodoo Lounge. Very nice ballad.

"I Go Wild" - Voodoo Lounge. Great live song.

"Blinded by Rainbows" - Voodoo Lounge. Yet another nice ballad.

"Thru and Thru" - Voodoo Lounge. Great Keith guitar work.

"Already Over Me" - Bridges to Babylon. Nice ballad.

"You Don't Have to Mean It" - Bridges to Babylon. Keith song. Good one.

"Out of Control" - Bridges to Babylon. Great, crazy rocker.

"Saint of Me" - Bridges to Babylon. Cool guitar work. Cool chorus too.

"Always Suffering" - Bridges to Babylon. Another nice ballad.

"How Can I Stop?" - Bridges to Babylon. As the author mentioned, a great Keith song.

"Rough Justice" - Bigger Bang. As good a rocker as any other band put out recently.

"Streets of Love" - Bigger Bang. Pretty ballad.

"This Place is Empty" - Bigger Bang. Nice Keith ballad.

"Oh, No, Not You Again" - Bigger Bang. Neat, dirty rocker.

Now that is a concert I would pay to see. Is it the Stones of 1969, 1972, 1975, or even 1978? No. But show me the song list of any other band who started in the 80's that matches the above numbers.

Posted by: jptjptjpt | November 10, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: keith_pritchard | November 11, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

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