The Rolling Stones

I don’t like the Rolling Stones. I think I’ve come to that conclusion. There are individual Stones songs that I love like anything. But they’re not a band I trust to put out albums I might find interesting. No, that’s not exactly it. I prefer if someone else listens to the Stones and points me to the stuff that’s worthwhile. Right now I have “Under My Thumb” on my phone and every time it comes on, it just scrapes against my aesthetic sensibilities like a fork on teeth. Same with “Brown Sugar” (though I’d argue that “Brown Sugar” is a better song than “Under My Thumb.” Both are still not songs I care to hear ever again).

But “Time is On My Side”? Brilliant. And sounds timeless. (For fun, check out how much “The Last Time” has a kind of Monkees-esque-ness, by comparison.) “Play with Fire,” too. Wow. I’m not sure there’s a rock band at that time that did creepy as well as them. I spent a great deal of time in early high school listening the fuck out of “She’s a Rainbow” and “Ruby Tuesday.”

And, of course, “Sympathy for the Devil” is pretty much the greatest. I could go on. Song after song of theirs that I like. And they should be right up my alley. I love Led Zeppelin, and Led Zeppelin never met an old blues artist they didn’t try to impersonate.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I could put together a personal Rolling Stones greatest hits album. But I never do, and I’m not sure why. Just that I don’t like them. I can’t really understand it.


10 thoughts on “The Rolling Stones

  1. Well, if ya don’t like ’em (which I always have, but so what?), play Irma Thomas’s original “Time is on My Side” instead of theirs and you’ll have another reassn not to care

  2. I like individual Stones songs — I love to sing certain Stones songs (I do a great drunken Karaoke “Moonlight Mile”) — but I hate their “brand,” I guess. That they’ve been the de-facto template for every “guy’s band” since, plus the inherent misogyny of their songs, has a lot to do with why I find them largely unappealing.

  3. I’m in exactly the same boat with the stones. They have brilliant work, but they fail at editing their albums. In my History of Rock N Roll class in college, we talked about the fact that they followed the blues tradition of their mentors, which is to publish and perform every song rather than making artistic choices. I don’t think that tradition served them all.

  4. Where, Terri, did you get the astonishing idea that blues performers–on records or anywhere– didn’t make artistic choices or have producers and labels picking songs to release like everyone else? Perhaps I’m not understanding what you’re saying and teaching–or perhaps I am.

  5. Kathy, I think it’s not misogyny exactly — it’s that of all the relationships their songs can imagine a man having with a woman, liking isn’t one of them. They (or the persona presented in their songs, through Jagger as the vocalist) just plain don’t like women. That doesn’t interfere with enjoying any given song of theirs on its merits. But (for me, at least) it completely closes off enjoying their entire body of work, or much liking them as a band.

  6. And also … let me just say that I’m enjoying all the recent music posts, in the spirit of your blogivesary. Since it was noticing over at the old NiT that you were arguing about roots music that first brought me over here.

  7. NM! That is exactly it. Bless you, woman, because it was driving me crazy. How can I like so many individual Stones songs and feel so cut off from liking them? But it’s indeed because the band’s persona does not like women and so I don’t feel like I have any pleasurable for me way into their whole thing.

    In that regard, it’s funny because I don’t know a lot of stories about the Rolling Stones behaving like utter pigs in real life, though I can’t avoid knowing the tales of Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page basically keeping a 14 year old girl as a sex slave. And yet, to me, Led Zeppelin’s songs feel full of love toward women. I mean, I could list you song after song of theirs that I wish someone were singing to me with that kind of lust in his voice.

    And I know I’m one of like five non-moody-teenagers who like The Doors, but even when they get to be a little too “Oh, women are so mysterious and other,” I still feel like their band’s persona is intrigued by women, sees value in us.

    I’ve been listening not to a lot of new stuff lately, but more closely to the shit I have (or in the Stones’ case, don’t have). Not sure why, but glad you’re enjoying it.

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