Digging through the archives, we recently realized that we had lost track of one of the finest items posted to GLONO. Back in the day, this was the first post that we pulled aside and showcased as a feature, but it somehow got lost in the shuffle of redesigns and content management system switches. We’re happy to bring it back. —Jake
of a Junky: The Rolling Stones
Drugs are evil. Make no mistake. Queen
of Darkness Marilyn Manson takes the stage in front of a huge 12-foot tall neon
sign that reads D-R-U-G-S. Drugs turn people crazy, especially the people trying
to outlaw them. Drugs are the evil Lord and the Stones worshipped at its altar
for 20 years and reaped the benefits before they fell from grace and lost their
souls to Billy Blanks.
"Sympathy for the Devil" may
be the most evil song in the world. The Stones forced anyone who dared to listen
beyond the jungle rhythms to face facts–you shit in your bed, now sleep in it.
Everything about that song is great. It is rock and roll. It is everything
parents were afraid of. I’ve seen clips of the recording sessions where Keith
couldn’t get up off the studio floor to listen to playbacks. They stood on the
precipice of depravity and spit over the edge.
The Stones were bar-none the Greatest
Rock Band in the World. They proved it time and again and were untouchable
throughout the seventies and even into the early eighties. Some Girls was
one of the best of their career, and though Tattoo You didn’t
reach the highs (and lows), of earlier records, it still had gems.
Then something happened.
Something wrong… Something ugly…
They got healthy.
I have long had a theory that anyone
who survives on large amounts of drugs should never, under any circumstance, get
clean. If they do, they die. Mark my words. The examples keep coming.
Jerry Garcia lived like a king, taking
every drug he could get his nine fingers on. His music grew, his performance
excelled. People who saw the Dead in their last years saw Jerry at the top of
his game. Like a hopped up, drug-addled line backer ripping through bags of
smack until his eyes bled. This went on for thirty years. He died in a rehab
unit surrounded by doctors trying to rid his body of tainted blood, like
medieval barbers trying to cure him of vapors and spirits.
Kurt Cobain brought us back from the
hairspray death of the 80s with the roar of music long thought dead. He cut his
hands with furious chords motivating a generation of Ritalin zombies to care.
And we cared. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that we didn’t. Suddenly,
everything seemed important because we were told nothing really was. We had no
wars. Our parents made great money. We were at the front door of this
country’s biggest and longest economic boom and we were depressed to the point
of violence. Kurt Cobain didn’t invent the 90’s apathy and angst; he
perfected it. And he was pumped to the gills with heroin the whole time. Some
people blame his suicide on drugs, but it wasn’t until he tried to get clean
that we found him smeared on the walls of his Seattle home. Some people feel the
slight annoyances of life as death by a thousand cuts. Kurt Cobain needed to
numb himself and found it in heroin. Drugs kept him sane.
The Stones, facing massive tax bills,
concert deaths and fame beyond the limits of the human mind, dug deep into the
sticky plastic bag of drugs and found the best music written in modern time.
They wrapped the warm fuzz of heroin around their brains like a wet shaving
towel and let the devil’s music rise out with the steam.
Welcome to the Party
Beggar’s Banquet is the invitation. The
fore mentioned “Sympathy…” sticks its tongue out and licks your lips. You
get so hard you can’t help but push back. "No Expectations" gently
caresses you and puts you at ease. It’s just a set up. "Street Fighting
Man" slaps you hard across the face and tells you you’re a bitch…and you
are. Like a woman with battered wife syndrome, you come back. You get fucked
hard like one of the Hell’s Angels’ mamas. By the time "Salt of the
Earth" is over you’re on your knees draggin’ yourself to the door. This was
the first step into the dark, crowded closet of self-medication.
They say that Mick Jagger was never
really that much into drugs, but that’s a lie. He may not have drenched
himself in the strychnine bitterness of acid or the scratchy throat brightness
of cocaine, but he loved the lifestyle. One hundred percent. Mick Jagger threw
drug references around like they were posh names at a social event. Mick Jagger
lived in the drug world and surrounded himself with junkies. He exploited the
lifestyle for all it was worth. He walked the fine line of pushers by ruthlessly
fronting his shit while never getting high on his own supply.
It’s a delicate balance though and
Brian Jones couldn’t walk it. He stumbled like a clumsy cat and ended up a
pathetic man at the bottom of his pool with a gut full of amphetamines. The band
that was his soul went on without missing a beat throwing a huge free show just
months after his death–Mick Jagger prancing mockingly in front of a huge poster
of Jones’s head.
The Hooks Are Set
Sticky Fingers gets you hooked
on the shit. They feed it to you. Your eyes swell and your stomach tightens.
"Sister Morphine" gives you the shakes. By the time "Wild
Flowers" comes around you’re so drunk you don’t even know what order
you’re hearing things. Finally you sweat out the night with the soft caress of
"Moonlight Mile." The Stones helped you through another binge. What
you forget is that they brought it on in the first place.
If the last few albums were crazy
nights you can’t remember but regret none-the-less, then Exile on Main
Street is a five-day bender from which you awaken and find that your parents
hate you. You take it in the tail pipe for four sides’ worth of abuse. The
Stones hate you too and you can’t turn away. Why? Because they tell you time and
again that no one else will have you. They’re the only ones who care. You’re
worthless but they love you. But now you’re a junky with them. You can’t get a
job because no boss in the world can understand how important this album is.
That hatred turns to bile and you puke it all over the gray carpet of that
condescending fuck’s cubicle.
Things do get better–In a way.
Death Before Disco
Your dirty lover switches drugs and
takes you along. At least on coke you’re motivated. You move. "Miss
You" actually makes you dance. The Stones make disco sound rough, though
you can’t admit that’s what you’re listening to. Latin rhythms force you
out on to the front stoop where you smoke weed and snort coke with Latino
neighbors who moved into the neighborhood while you were zonked. They offer you
grass and inexplicably you accept replying, "El gusto es mio."
The early eighties kind of blend
together like a smeared pencil drawing. You love "Waiting on a
Friend," though you don’t even remember what album it’s on. The
neighborhood is alive and jumping. Things are happening.
Then it happens.
After years of backstabbing that would
have turned the Osmonds into alcoholics, the Stones fall apart. Mick discovers
clean living. He takes karate for Christ’s sake. He records She’s the Boss.
This isn’t a hangover; this is a hemorrhage. You’re facing serious damage.
Dear God, you actually see Her Majesty in a video called "Let’s Work"
that must be some kind of community service message, but it’s not. Mick is
serious and that sends you into a furious depression that’s needs medication.
Surely Keith is still holding. Can’t he
hook you up for old times’ sake? Shit, where is Keith? Rumors of an o.d. are
rampant. People say that he’s gone through rapid detox and had all of his blood
drained, cleaned and replaced. One new rumor alleges he is a follower of Tae Bo
and his new dark lord is Billy Blanks himself.
Charlie’s gone back to jazz. No
Bill Wyman is a pedophile. OK. That’s
good. There’s still some evil lurking in the bushes, even if it is in the form
of an aging child raper. Never trust the ones who just watch from the side. They
are the most deviant. But Wyman’s lechery can not stop the withdrawal and the
spiders are really crawling.
There’s talk of a reunion. It’s a flop.
They sold you a little baggie of Crystal Lite! You snort the shit and your nose
bleeds for an hour. Now you’re strung out and confused. You got a little off the
Black Crows, but it’s really just cut extra thin with a dash of the Faces
thrown in. It burns your throat. Things are getting desperate.
Steel Wheels flattens you. Your
guts are on the road. They backed over you again and again. You see them on tour
with the hopes of hearing the old stuff and they give it to you. But it’s laced
with Drain-O and you shit for weeks afterward.
Withdrawal is hell. You give up on it
cold, puking and shaking but in the end you’re clean. You’re tempted in the
late 90s by Stripped. Everyone tells you it’s like the old days. The
Stones playing a small bar, just kickin’ it out. No production, no tricks.
"C’mon baby, it’s me," they whisper. You’re fooled for a minute until
you read "Like a Rolling Stone" in the set list. Nice try, prick. You
have had it. And just in time. Bridges to Babylon is a buzz kill. Not as
bad, but compared to the old stuff it is straight shwag.
Still the Stones are the best. The fact
that they are no longer the dirty demons of rock does not change the past or
fade their legend. Just as I know two girls who claim they’d still nail Brando
because of what he USED to look like, I still let the stones nail me. I listen
to Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street and Goats Head Soup like
a middle aged woman pining over the faded photo of an old boyfriend long since
wrinkled and fat. You can too.
Our days are numbered though, my
friend. We’ve survived so long on the pure heroin the Stones have been feeding
us that going clean may just send our bodies into shock. Thank God we can go
back to the old records and lick the mirror for a little something. But that
won’t last forever. Mark my words.
Glorious Noise recently celebrated its eighth anniversary. Be sure to check out Stephen Macaulay and Derek Phillips’ reminiscences on eight years of GLONO: Eight Years After, and It started with emails…, respectively.