We Aren’t the World

The current contretemps associated with the possibility of ½ of the band formerly known as “The Doors” reappearing as “The Doors”—when, perhaps, they ought to be retitled something like “The Dutch Doors,” indicating their partialness—was brought to mind when I was reading a piece in the March 13, 2003, issue of The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, I thought of the Lizard King, the incident from many, many years ago (the Early Middle Age of Rock, as it were), when he reportedly released his lizard while on stage during a performance in Florida. Naturally, the authorities became involved and led him away in cuffs. Some people interpreted this response as still another instance of “The Man” clamping down on the spirit of rock and roll. We had—and I suspect that the present tense of that verb holds, as well—no idea what “clamping down” means. In fact, in many other places on the planet, there might have been some actual clamps applied to his equipment prior to its (i.e., the equipment’s) removal.

The Wall Street Journal story isn’t about The Doors. It is about The Rolling Stones (and is appropriately in the “Marketplace” section of the paper: let’s not forget the coffers of loot that the Stones—especially Keith and Mick have accumulated in their long, long years of recording and roading). It deals with the band’s forthcoming concert in China. As was the case in other parts of the world, the live performance is preceded by the release of the recording that we know in the U.S. as Forty Licks, a compilation of, clearly, 40 songs. But that’s not the case in China. Rather than 40, the author of the WSJ article, Leslie Chang, points out that the sum is trimmed to 36. Apparently, the Chinese government is not appreciative of four of the songs that many of us might consider to be quintessential Stones. They are:

— “Brown Sugar”

— “Beast of Burden”

— “Honky Tonk Women”

— “Let’s Spend the Night Together”

For those of you with a historical perspective, you’ll recall that the most recent of those tunes, “Beast of Burden,” appeared in ’78 on Some Girls, while the oldest, “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” appeared in ’67 on Between the Buttons.

Even though a decreasing number of people will vaguely recall that Ed Sullivan prohibited the band from using the title phrase “Let’s spend the night together,” insisting that the temporal tryst be “some time,” that was when TV was still broadcast in black and white, and not because of any auteur effect, either. Here it is, the 21st century, and the Chinese government is, apparently, troubled by lyrics that are, by almost any contemporary yardstick not being yielded by someone who many people might generously consider to be a prude, not particularly distressing. It is hard to imagine that those lyrics remain controversial. Yet they do.

Which brings another thought to mind, one that should lead to a bit of questioning about the blitheness with which we apply labels to things.

Consider: The Rolling Stones are “the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.” That seems to be undisputed. People may quibble, but the epithet holds. Yet take this fact into account: the population of Beijing is estimated to be 11 million. Tickets for the Stones concert went on sale last month. The venue seats 7,000. Forty percent of those seats, according to the WSJ article, remain unsold. While one could argue that the tariff for the ducats is larcenous (the gents didn’t get rich through largess), wouldn’t the “greatest” band in “the world” manage a sellout toot sweet? Our doors of perception require an occasional adjustment, it seems.

One thought on “We Aren’t the World”

  1. HOW you doing, yes they are the greatest rock in roll band in the world,and allaways will be i am a bigtime rolling stones fan for many years,i saw them 23 times,everytime i go to see them we allawys come up with great seats on the floor,78 in Philledelphia JFK stadium at the time it was general addmition,wee wore right up FRONT,awsom, 3 times in 78,81 JFK AGAIN, could not get any closer to the stage,that tattoo you tour was GREAT saw them 4 times,there was a ramp going out,there was Keith,after playing Hang fire,he shook my hand,wee were right there,well anyway when they take it to the road they just keep gettin better,steel wheels, i saw them 4 times,voodoo lounge,4 times,again at veterans stadium i got hi fives from Mick KEITH an RONNY,97 4 times again, at the vet, ehen they got done playing on the small stage,the bridge was allready gone that they walked over on,i was seated 27 th roll from midle of the big stage,on there way back i was right neer the cat walk, i got hand shakes from Mick Keith Darrll Jones,99 3 times, just great,this licks tour,i saw them 4 times, the Vet, the first union center,the Tower Theater,and Giant STADIUM, at sept, 18 again i wa s seated 28th roll right neer the catwalk on there there way down to play the small stage,the got close,i just stuck my hand out and it was Ronny AN this guy, good old CHARLIE,on there way back when they were done on small stage, on there way back it was RONNY an CHARLIE WATTS,that man is the nicest guy in the world,they all are,the ROLLING STONES,song as it says DON’T STOP, they will be playing in to days of fossil. thanks alot, if you want you can get back to me thanks again. Joe

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