Has having kids changed you at all? Your son, Marlon, is almost a teenager now, right?
Just about, yeah. He's beatin' the shit out of me. It's gotten to the point now, in the last few months, where I've noticed he's coming up and reprimanding me, you know? "Dad! Get up! There's a rehearsal. They're waitin'!" And I'm takin' it — I'm takin it! "Yeah, okay, I'm ready. Give me my jeans." And he says, "Oh, yeah — you look like you're ready. You got one eye closed!" I don't really have to worry about Marlon, he's so together. I mean, he's been on the road since he was about a year old, so to him this is all totally normal. He used to crash out to "Midnight Rambler" every night behind my amp, you know?
It's nice not to have to be a disciplinarian.
Yeah. Or only if something's really grating on my hangover. But I've been lucky. I've never been forced into that position of saying, "Now look here, son, you can't do that." I'm still half waiting for my own old man to start knocking me about — "Bloody rock & roll! You fool!" Bash!
Your dad's still alive?
Yeah. I have not seen him. Occasionally, I write him a letter: "I really want to get together with you again," you know? And I get a really nice letter back. He's a great guy, but very hard to get to know. He was born in 1914, and I didn't have anything to say to him when I was eighteen. It was a total stand-off, you know? And so I left home and got the band together with Mick and Brian.
Has your father ever seen Marlon?
No, no. I know what I should do, man, I know. I'm workin' on it now. In fact, I'm glad you asked me that. You reminded me, 'cause I sent him a letter about a month ago, saying, "If you wanna come over. . . . " Either that or send him a ticket and say the plane's leaving, get your passport and get your ass over here. He's only been out of England once, and that was to France to get his leg blown up. The Anglo-American tour of Normandy, they called it.
Judging by some of the songs on Tattoo You, your and Mick's attitudes toward women seem to have changed somewhat. With the exception of "Little T&A," that is. . . .
Well, that song's just about every good time I've had with somebody I'd met for a night or two and never seen again. And also about the shit that sometimes goes down when you just sort of bump into people unknowingly, and not knowing the scene you're walking in on, you know? You pick up a chick and end up spending the night in the tank, you know?
On the other hand, "Black Limousine," for instance, seems more generous in its appraisal of a past relationship. Quite vulnerable, really.
Yeah, because time marches on, et cetera. And also, I guess, because the women in our lives at the moment have made a change in our attitudes toward it. I guess because everything that comes out from the Stones is just as it comes out. I mean, you just turn on the tap and it pours out. That's how we used to feel about it, and that's how we feel about it now. This is purely a guess, because I haven't really thought about it, but it seems logical that the people you're with are the ones who are gonna influence you most, whether you intend it or not. Mick might intend to sit down and write a real Stones song — you know: "Blechhh! You cruddy piece of shit, you dirty old scrub box!" But obviously, that's not the way he's feeling now. It's not the way I'm feeling now.
Would it be fair to say that you're both in love?
Oh, yeah. But I've always been in love.
It seems like you and Patti, though. . . .
It's a big one, it's a big one. Yeah. It doesn't matter, I'll tell ya — yeah, I'm in love. Those are the things that, when you're at the other end of the scale, you know, and you think, "Oh, goddamn, you can only be in love when you're eighteen or twenty-three or . . . But then you get older and suddenly — bang! One again! And you realize that was all a load of crap. And those are the things that turn you on, you know? Those are the things that make you look forward, keep you going. You say, well, if it can happen, keep on going. I mean, it's the greatest feeling in the world, right?
Love is good!
Love wears a white Stetson.
This story is from the November 12, 1981 issue of Rolling Stone.
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