Tag Archives: Rolling Stones

Time Marches On. Or Does It Dance?

The remaining Beatles and the Stones—which could also be described as “remaining,” although for some reason that doesn’t seem to apply to that band, when arguably it should—together making music.

That is what Variety reports could have happened, given that the Stones are finishing a new album, Hackney Diamonds, in Los Angeles and Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr happened to participate in recording sessions with them within the past few weeks.

Once, this would have been the stuff of wide-eyed amazement. Those two bands essentially dominated the 1960s and defined music for years to come. It was a battle of the bands that the two were in, although this was in terms of the fan base, which picked one over the other.

Yes, there was the participation of Lennon and McCartney on the Stones’ “We Love You,” from 1967. There was Lennon performing with “Yer Blues” with Keef as part of 1968’s “Rock and Roll Circus.”

Those were but moments.

But now it is, I think, rather sad.

Continue reading Time Marches On. Or Does It Dance?

On Age

Paul McCartney just turned 81. Which means he was born in 1942. He was born into what undoubtedly seemed to his parents as a world at war. And war wasn’t something that was happening elsewhere: the Nazis had bombed London and other cities from September 1940 to May 1941. Liverpool was one of the most heavily bombed cities.

1942 was a non-trivial year in terms of births of musicians: Brian Jones*, John Cale, Arthur Brown, Ian Dury, Spencer Davis, Andy Summers. And recording engineer Glyn Johns was also born in 1942; he was to work with The Beatles on the Let It Be recording and was the person who suggested that the band perform on the roof of the Apple Studio building.

Assuming that when one is around 16 the music that one listens to probably has a bigger effect overall than music heard at any other time in one’s life (i.e., childhood is behind and the edge of adulthood is sharply there), it is interesting to note some of the biggest songs in the U.K. in 1958:

  • “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis was the first record to debut at #1 on the UK Singles Chart
  • “Wake Up Little Susie” by The Everly Brothers spent two months in the top 10
  • “Chicago” by Frank Sinatra sold big for three months

And while expected musicians including Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and Little Richard had hits in the UK in 1958, it is worth knowing that Paul Anka, Harry Belafonte, Pat Boone, and Perry Como did, as well.

Quite an array of musical influences.

Continue reading On Age

Cartoons, Circuses and Dead Celebrities

The average new car payment in the U.S. in 2022 was $700 per month, and, according to Experian, the firm that knows more about your credit than you do, the average amount borrowed was $41,665. The average length of a loan was 69.7 months. To put that into context, were you to have taken a loan of that length that you are just paying off, the year you took the loan was the year that “fake news” became a thing (or did it. . . ?) Kelley Blue Book, which tracks such things, reported that in November, the average price of a luxury vehicle was $67,050. To put that into context, the U.S. Census Bureau, which calculates such things, says that the U.S. 2021 median household income (the latest year it has the number for) was $70,784.

Mercedes-Benz, which most certainly makes luxury vehicles, announced last week that it is “joining forces with emerging entertainment brand, SUPERPLASTIC.”

SUPERPLASTIC is described as being “known for its universe of synthetic celebrities brough to life through original content on social media and ‘hyper-limited’ toy and apparel drops,” a company that “collaborates with a wide range of A-list musicians, artists and international brands.” That would include Gorillaz, J Balvin, Steve Aoki and Gucci.

To simplify things, the company has created cartoon characters that are arguably the spawn of Garbage Pail Kids and Bratz and it sells stuff.

For its partnership with Mercedes it created a character named “Superdackel,” described as “the SUPERPLASTIC reinvention and heroic alter ego of a beloved cultural icon, the ‘Wackeldackel’, the classic ‘nodding dog’ ornament that’s graced the hearts and dashboards of generations of drivers around the globe.” Erm, well, at least for those who speak German is the Wackeldackel known as the nodding dog.

The company has made a video including its cartoon characters that has them boosting a car from a New York City Mercedes dealership and bumping along and doing cartoony things to a hip-hop beat. At one point Wackeldackel transforms into his new persona, Superdackel, which includes putting on a necklace that has a massive Mercedes star hood ornament dangling from it, bringing Mike D to mind.

Not only does the whole thing smack of cultural misappropriation, but odds are that few people who are SUPERPLASTIC age-appropriate fans are going to be able to pick up something like a Mercedes-AMG EQS sedan: starting price, $147,500. (Hmm. . .maybe two households could get together and share one. . .but they wouldn’t have anything left over for the electricity needed to charge it.)

Continue reading Cartoons, Circuses and Dead Celebrities

Hearing, Seeing, Earning

No Static At All

According to Nielsen, some 47 million Americans listen to AM radio. Given that there are some 338 million Americans, that isn’t a small number.

While electric vehicle sales are still under 10% in the U.S., the number is growing.

And as it grows, the number of AM radios in vehicles declines. Electric vehicles produced by Audi, BMW, Porsche, Volvo, Volkswagen and Tesla are all AM-radio free.

Ford has announced that its immensely popular F-150 Lightning electric pickup, will not have AM starting in model year 2023.

This isn’t (necessarily) a case of what’s known in the industry as “decontenting,” or removing things to reduce costs and increase profits.

Rather, electric motors throw off electromagnetic interference that affects AM reception in a way that it doesn’t affect FM. (The same goes for other electrical phenomenon, such as non-automotive lightning.)

Because Tesla is by far the most popular brand of EVs in the U.S. (and everywhere else for that matter), it is interesting to note something about its entertainment strategy.

What’s involved in getting AM, FM and Sirius Radio (assuming there is an appropriate antenna affixed to the roof) in a Tesla?

The customer must purchase a Radio Upgrade. It costs $500. But to get the Radio Upgrade it is necessary to get the Infotainment Upgrade. According to Tesla, to obtain the Infotainment Upgrade, “Owners of compatible vehicles can schedule an appointment through the Tesla app for purchase and installation. This upgrade is available for $2,250 plus applicable tax, including installation, for vehicles equipped with Autopilot Computer 2.0 or 2.5 and for $1,750 plus applicable tax, including installation, for all other vehicles.”

But wait, there’s more: “Some features enabled by the Infotainment Upgrade require a Premium Connectivity subscription.” And for that: “Premium Connectivity currently is available as a monthly subscription of $9.99 plus applicable tax or as an annual subscription of $99 plus applicable tax.”

Remember when radios were standard equipment in cars?

The least-expensive Tesla is a Model 3 that starts at $46,990.

Well, at least static from the audio isn’t an issue.

Continue reading Hearing, Seeing, Earning

The Price of Performance

“Keep me searching for a pot of gold/And I’m growing old”—with apologies to Neil Young

For the past several months, climate activists in London have been staging protests at the British Museum. They want the institution to stop taking sponsorship money from bp. bp (formerly British Petroleum) is, of course, an oil and gas company. There is probably a bp station close by to where you are right now. The company says, “Our purpose is reimagining energy for people and our planet. We want to help the world reach net zero and improve people’s lives.” I don’t know what “reimagining energy” means. Probably some clever copywriter came up with that term. It is hard to imagine (to say nothing of reimagine) precisely how a company that is primarily predicated on drilling holes to pump out fossil fuels that are then processed so that they can be combusted in various things like motor vehicles is going to get to net zero, even by 2050 because as long as these carbon-based fuels are burned, the consequences are, well, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: “the substances produced when gasoline is burned (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and unburned hydrocarbons) contribute to air pollution. Burning gasoline also produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.”

Just how the elimination of the sponsorship by bp for the 990,000-square-foot history museum—which, by the way, has free admission—is going to have an effect on the chemistry of combustion or on the use of petrol there or gasoline here is difficult to suss, but there is something to be said for the pluck of those stalwart Brits who are gluing themselves to things like paintings to prove their dedication to the mission. (What, I wonder, do they do when they have to go to the loo? Bust out the nail polish remover and make a quick break?).

Whether it is a museum or a band, the importance of sponsorship—a.k.a., funding—is absolutely important.

Continue reading The Price of Performance


Obligatory Autobiographical Opening

When my friends and I were in high school we took a summer pilgrimage to a campground in northern Michigan, and if a pilgrimage requires a religious angle, then it was to celebrate Bacchus, assuming that he happened to drink copious quantities of Stroh’s.

None of us were in the least bit interested in camping. We had no skills. To build a campfire we had to rely on Coleman stove fuel, which got things going rather quickly and also served as an entertainment when it was splashed on an already raging fire, as there would be an eye-opening exothermic event. The days in the campground consisted of (1) drinking beer in the afternoon, long into the night; (2) passing out in our not-well-setup tents; (3) getting up the next day and going to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, where the sun, we hoped, would help sweat the alcohol out of our bodies; (4) bathing in ice-cold Lake Michigan; (5) repeat.

The summer of 1972 most of us were 18. Earlier that year the Michigan legislature had done us a tremendous favor by changing the drinking age in the state to 18. That meant we didn’t have to accumulate as much beer as we could while we were back in Detroit from people that would “buy” for us (in retrospect it seems an odd thing: we would simply say to someone who was older but who had a fake ID, “Will you buy for us?” and it went without elaboration what we meant) so as to be well stocked for our adventure. One of the downsides of this was that our trunks tended to be so full of beer that the camping gear barely fit.

Continue reading FIFTY

Please, Mr. Postman

The Rolling Stones was established in 1962. Jagger, Richards, Wyman, Watts, Jones. The band, like many British groups at the time, was inspired by American music. But whereas, say, the Beatles (formed in 1960) were influenced by Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, the Stones were more influenced by Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. There was far more grit and growl to the Stones from the very beginning. It is hard—if not impossible—to imagine the Stones doing “A Taste of Honey” or “Till There Was You.”*

While the Stones were performing “Paint It Black,” the Beatles were having their faces plastered on lunch boxes and dishes (“Eat your peas, kids, and then you can see the Fab Four!”). There was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band released in the spring of 1967. And there was Their Satanic Majesties Request before the year was out. The distinction can’t be much clearer.

The live performance of the Beatles that is probably the most widely known is that of “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964 (although the band opened with “Till There Was You,” the second song they did, the one that gets all the “remember-when” clips, was “She Loves You”).

The live performance of the Stones that is most memorable in the collective consciousness is that. . .at Altamont, in 1969. (The Stones also appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” in October 1964. The opening number was Chuck Berry’s “Around & Around.” The close was “Time Is On My Side.” So while the Beatles did a soft cover and ended with something more raucous, comparatively speaking, the Stones did exactly the opposite.)

Think only of one of the Stones’ most famous love ballads, “Angie,” and compare it to the Beatles’ “Michelle.” One has edge. One has schmaltz.

It would seem that there would be strife and discord and conflict such that the band would have centrifugally flown apart years ago, but although age has caused there to be departures from the Stones, there was the quitting/firing of Brian Jones in ’69 and the quitting of his replacement, Mick Taylor, in 1974, which seem to be the most contentious.

Meanwhile, one would imagine, even after watching Get Back, that the Beatles could have had a long, pleasant run, rather than their dissolution in 1970, a 10-year run.

Clearly there are dynamics at play in any organization that are never clear to those outside of it.

In 1964 Hallmark, the card company, released Beatles stamps. They resemble postage stamps. In the years since there have been a number of bona-fide Beatles stamps released by various governments. Remarkably, last year the U.S. Postal System released a John Lennon stamp, which seems bizarre given that the FBI had had Lennon under investigation for a number of years and the Immigration and Nationalization Service tried to have him removed from the country. However, the reason why stamps with pictures of people like Lennon are created is not so that they can actually be used, but collected. Money comes in for the stamps but money does not go out in the form of having a stamped envelope collected, processed and delivered. For fiscal year 2021 the USPS had a net loss of $4.9 billion; perhaps it needs to print more stamps.

And it is philatelic activities that has gotten me here.

On January 20, 2022, the U.K. Royal Mail** is “Celebrating 60 Years of Iconic Music and Legendary Shows.” Simply, celebrating The Stones.

Continue reading Please, Mr. Postman

In Advance of a Broken Band

There was one scene in the massive filmic edifice that is Get Back, the film of the Beatles nearing the end, the likes of which was only exceeded by the magnitude of Napoleon’s 1812 retreat from Moscow, that made me shake myself from my stupor during which time I was wondering how it was possible for Paul McCartney to be chewing on his fingernails so frequently and yet have the ability to play bass, piano, drums and probably a multitude of other instruments had they been in Twickenham Studios or Savile Row or inside his car or randomly on his route to work.

This was after George Harrison decided that he could continue to be a member of the band and Billy Preston, who happened to be in town, was dragooned, willingly, into the band.

During an exchange between McCartney and Lennon it was pointed out that the Beatles were four, then three, then four, then five. That is, John/Paul/George/Ringo, John/Paul/George/Ringo, John/Paul/George/Ringo, John/Paul/George/Ringo/Billy. It was even suggested that they might ask a multitude of others to join the group, equaling, perhaps, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The issue, of course, is the still somewhat alive horse that I’ve flogged over the years, which is: When does a band stop being a band? Or when is it a band in name only?

As is well known there is a tendency for acts to continue on with the name of a band although there are people missing from the lineup that made the band what it was.

Continue reading In Advance of a Broken Band

Charlie Watts, R.I.P.

And so I call it an end. An end of the Rolling Stones. It withstood the death of Brian Jones. It got past the departure of Mick Taylor. Bill Wyman took his bass and left. Ian Stewart was only sort-of in the band.

But with the death of Charlie Watts, that’s it.


Yes, there are Mick and Keith. The remaining originals. Ronnie Wood has been playing in the band since 1975, which is arguably a career and then some.

But Watts was special.

Funny thing: There are often apologists for Ringo Starr, who maintain that he is a far better drummer than he is typically given credit for being. Presumably much of that capability was honed over hours and hours of working the skins with sticks. (And a solid measure of McCartney’s bitching.)

But you never heard any excuses for Watts. He got the job done, and then some.

The Rolling Stones have typically been fluid in the musicians that it only lets the spotlights glance at. The sound of the band is made up of more than the marque members.

The sound of the backbeat was always Watts.

Continue reading Charlie Watts, R.I.P.

No Filter

So what do you do?

The bank is full, regardless of how many ex-spouses that need to be paid, regardless of how many progenies are on the loose.

There is, of course, always the potential that things could go pear-shaped.

Perhaps a Bernie Madoff-type makes off with a sizeable chunk of doubloons. Perhaps there is an ever-increasing compulsion that results in an ever-decreasing amount hidden under the bed.

Things that could cause a need for more money.

What do you do?

Much of your life has been spent somewhere.

Sometimes you don’t even know where is there. Someone needs to tell you. Or at least remind you.

Things have gotten to the point where it is a different room and when you get up at night you’re not twigged to where in the suite the bathroom is located.

But that’s the life. And you remember when it was something where you were in a caravan and simply had to use the nearest tree or wall.

At one point it got old. Tired. Really old. And then you were young.

But like the sound barrier, you broke through and now you are on the other side.

Always on the other side.

At this point there is no going back.

And you ask yourself what exactly it might be that you’d be going back to.

Continue reading No Filter