Keith Richard: The Rolling Stone Interview

Page 22 of 24

Do you want to make 70?
I can't even imagine what it's like, to be 70. When I was 20 I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be 28.

Can you imagine 30?
It's only two years away. I don't know, not really. Thirty still seems like a real trip to me. And I know 33 is a real trip: 33 is a year.

When Christ was crucified . . .
Everybody who reaches 33, goes through some weird things.

About Sticky Fingers . . .
I mean, though there are songs with heavy drug references, as people have pointed out to me. Me being completely unaware of the situation. They're all actually quite old, which maybe indicates that we were into those things a couple of years ago, three years ago. Maybe we recorded it 20 years ago, man, you know.

I mean, people, you can't take a fucking record like other people take a bible. It's only a fucking record, man. Goddamn it, you know, you might love it one day, you might hate it the next. Or you might love it forever, but it doesn't mean to say that whatever it says in there you've got to go out and do, you've got to go out and say.

There's no rules, you know. When it was teenybopper time one just despaired anyway. I mean, what was the relevance of it.

What did it all mean?
Yeah. Suddenly you're a pop star. Well, you do that because you know pop stars only last two years anyway. So you go through it: "Oh, you know, I'll be that for a bit." The thing is that things change along with it.

You understand that hardly anybody especially in America —
I thought that also along with it had changed that sort of bullshit, that authority. The establishment has its fingers on show business in this way that in fact it comes out through the mouth of justice itself. "Since you are an idol of millions you therefore hold special responsibilties."

In actual fact, you don't. There's only him that says you do. You don't shoulder any responsibilities when you pick up a guitar or sing a song, because it's not a position of responsibility.

Some people try and reflect it, don't they? Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young? The song, "Chicago" – like that.
Good topical stuff.

Which sells records?
Certainly. Mayor Daley's a good target. And there's a million Mayor Daleys in America. Why have a go at one? Sure he's cunt, you know, everyone knows he's a cunt. But there's a million hiding behind. Last time I was in L.A. I met the old lady that owns most of those head shops in the Strip, man. She's got a little home in Beverly Hills, she's rolling, you know. She's made a packet, man, and she gets those little hippies to work in there. And it's a front, man. It's all a fucking front. There's another Mayor Daley.

I mean, who knows where they are? How many times can you use those words – justice, freedom. It's like margarine, man. You can package it and you can sell that too. In America they have a great talent for doing that.

And so, as I was saying, just because it's on a record doesn't mean that you have to take it for what it is. The cat could be lying, you know, at the end of the record, you know, maybe they cut the tape off and he said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm lying. You know, I'm just fooling you." But they just happened to edit the tape there, you know. "I'm putting you on."

Maybe Dylan said at the end of "Visions of Johanna" – oh, I don't know, which is a very personal thing – but maybe he said it at the end of some of his earlier stuff: "But I don't give a fuck." at the end of "Blowin' in the Wind" or "That's up to you," maybe said that.

But they just, by the time somebody gets to a record anyway, they've got to realize that even our records have gone through the hands of some of the straightest people you could ever meet. Nearly all the Rolling Stones records – you know this is the first album that hasn't – have gone through this very straight English private fucking company, man. They're the people that are really giving it to you. It's not us that are giving it, we're giving it to them.

Because that's the only way you can get records out, and they're giving it to the people. So really it's coming from them anyway. I mean, we went through a lot of hassles with them, but it's not like straight from us to you. It's always going through the hands of somebody, and the thing is to try and get those hands into the same sort of sympathy.

The music says something very basic and simple, man. Which, I don't know, exasperates. I mean, look at Richard Nixon and then look at your average young cat in the street, or some Indian cat. It's all there, you've only got to look at what's in front of you. And that's all we've ever been trying to do. Not trying to tell people where to go or which way to go because I don't know. We're all following. I mean, it's all going to happen. It's all coming down.

And to us it might seem, oh, world population. Before there were newspapers and radios and TV you wouldn't hear about that . . . You would never hear about that plague in India or Bengal that they're having and the cholera thing. If you was living in Wales at the time of the great plague in London you probably wouldn't get to hear about that until five years after it happened. And so, something like world population, you wouldn't even know about it.

Depends how worried you want to get about everything. I mean, how can you worry about world population, whose problem is that? You tell me.

Everybody feels they ought to do something about it. If you know the facts. On the face of it it sounds scary. But after a while it always splits into two things, one side is "Oh, in ten years there's going to be so many people on the earth and you not going to be able to do this, that and the other" and the other says, "Oh yes; it's going to be terrible for them, but it's going to be all right for us."

And then there's "Oh, the world's growing too much food and they're just throwing it all away, enough to feed the world five times over is being thrown into the Atlantic Ocean": and the only reason it's not getting to the people that need it to stay alive is either because they don't want to afford the cost of transporting it to those people or they want those people to die anyway. I mean, what about that tidal wave in Pakistan, man? Quarter of a million in one night.

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