2.19.2011

mick jagger, bemused castaway

I don't watch award shows and I don't care about the Grammys (i.e., I care about music), but I love this footage of Mick Jagger and Raphael Saadiq rehearsing for this year's Grammy show. It swings like crazy, and Jagger is so hot in his street clothes and sneakers. I wish there was more straight-on footage and fewer effects.


Seeing Mick look so down-to-earth reminded me of a wonderful bit I read about how he is described in few different books - by Keith, Christopher Isherwood and Werner Herzog.
As everyone knows by now, Mick Jagger's foibles and flaws are on display in Keith Richards's autobiography, "Life." (Mick's harp playing receives the highest marks from Keith, but that's pretty much it as far as unqualified praise goes.) Jagger comes off considerably better in "The Sixties," the second volume of Christopher Isherwood's diaries. Isherwood describes meeting Jagger in the Australian outback, where he was filming "Ned Kelly": "Mick Jagger, very pale, quiet, good-tempered, full of fun, ugly-beautiful, a bit like Beatrix Lehmann; he has the air of a castaway, someone saved from a wreck, but not in the least dismayed by it."

That's exactly the way Jagger was portrayed in "Conquest of the Useless," Werner Herzog's journals about the making of "Fitzcarraldo," which initially starred Jagger and Jason Robards. In the midst of that notoriously lunatic shoot in the Peruvian jungle, Jagger remained imperturbable and seemed to find humor in anything and everything, even the monkey that bit him.

Isherwood continues:
Mick seems almost entirely without vanity. . . . He hardly ever refers to his career or himself as a famous and successful person and you might be with him for hours and not know what it is he does. Also, he seems equally capable of group fun, clowning, entertaining, getting along with other people, and of entering into a serious one-to-one dialogue with anybody who wants to. He talked seriously but not at all pretentiously about Jung, and about India (he has a brother who has become a monk in the Himalayas), and about religion in general. He also seems tolerant and not bitchy. He told me with amusement that the real reason why the Beatles left the Maharishi was that he made a pass at one of them: "They're simple north-country lads; they're terribly uptight about all that." Am still not sure if I believe this story.
In the usual telling of that gossipy anecdote, the Maharishi made a pass at a young woman — sometimes it's Mia Farrow, sometimes not — infuriating the Fabs. True or not, Jagger's version is more appealing. As Christopher Hitchens says in his foreword to "The Sixties," regarding this attempted seduction of an unspecified Beatle, "I wonder which one, don't you?" Indeed I do, and I wouldn't put my money on Ringo.

9 comments:

allan said...

Mick's harp playing receives the highest marks from Keith, but that's pretty much it

Ye olde "tiny todger"!

...

The televised performance was damn good.

allan said...

Video graphic says Burke was born in 1955. It was 1940.

Jymn said...

My money's on Richards. It's the music not the moves.

laura k said...

My money's on Richards. It's the music not the moves.

No shortage of love for Keith here! He is and always will be my rock and roll love.

But the Stones are Mick+Keith, inseparable. Mick is not just "the moves" - he is the voice, the cadence, the front man - a huge amount of the power - not to mention a huge amount of the writing. There is no Rolling Stones without Keith and Mick.

laura k said...

PS: Vocals are music, too.

Philpot Honeycutt said...

Have you seen "The T.A.M.I Show" from 1964? It has an early appearance by The Rolling Stones and a lot of other incredible (and weird) performances: James Brown, The Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson, and more.

Zip has it:
http://www.zip.ca/DVD/Browse.aspx/1/t/199726/The_T_A_M_I_Show

One of the Go-Go dancers is a teenage Teri Garr - see if you can spot her.

Amy said...

My money is on John, but Paul has always been considered the Cute Beatle.

Thanks for the post. I did not watch the Grammys. I will watch most anything on TV, but since I don't even recognize the names of almost all the people who were nominated, it's pointless for me to watch. Who is Justin Bieber? (JK, I actually know who is he from all the media hype.) I am still stuck in the 60s and 70s, so seeing Mick is always a pleasure for me.

allan said...

My money's on Richards.

But he wasn't in the Beatles.

laura k said...

My money's on Richards.

But he wasn't in the Beatles.


I thought Jymn was saying he likes Keith more than Mick. Obviously Keith is not the Beatle the Maharishi was hitting on!