Mick Jagger Breaks Down 'Black and Blue'

It's only black and blue, but the Rolling Stones like it

Mick Jagger in London.
Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns
May 6, 1976

NEW YORK — With a new album and European and American tours planned this year, the Rolling Stones are back and Mick Jagger is happy about it. He lounges in manager Peter Rudge's office, calls for coffee and yawns and stretches with the same sleek indolence a waking cat displays. In his pullover sweater, tan bell-bottoms and blue Adidas nylon jogging shoes, he could pass for the London art student he once was.

The Stones will play 36 dates in nine European countries from April 28th to June 23rd, and there are widespread reports that the month of July will be devoted to touring in the United States. "I can't tell you the dates yet," Jagger said. "The bookings aren't confirmed. And yes, I think Ron Wood is a Stone. I don't think he's signed the contract yet."

The Rolling Stones Live, 1964-2007

Of the album, Black and Blue, he waxed more talkative and ran down the list of eight tracks. "We had five more recorded that we just couldn't fit on there. Let me see. 'Worried about You' and 'I Love Ladies' were a couple of them. We always have four or five left over. And you tend to just leave them, you know. The album now to me is rather like an old hearthrug, it's so familiar."

"Hot Stuff" (recorded at Musicland in Munich, March 30th, 1975): "That's just a lick, you know, just one of those licks, licks with no words – and that's your 'disco departure' you're talking about. We opened with it because 'Hand of Fate' or 'Crazy Mama' would seem too familiar, you know. So we thought it'd be nice to open the side with something that wasn't sounding quite exactly like the Rolling Stones. 'Hand of Fate' seemed to be a good song to have second."

And the singing is different, a Southern R&B style. Dr. John?

"Not really; it's supposed to sound more like . . . the Ohio Players!"

"Hand of Fate" (Munich, March 25th, 1975): Sounds like a tale of revenge by a wronged man. A good Southern metaphor?

"No," Jagger laughs, "that's a Southern occupation. It's a narrative, you know, a sort of chopped up narrative about a Southern murder. It's better, you know, than singing about the ordinary things. A lot of people like that one. It's about someone whose woman you take and he decides to take her back. It's a simple narrative."

Ever taken a tale like that and stretched it into, say, a short story?

"Needless to say, no. It's quite a good idea to do if you've got the kernel of a good story. It's very hard, actually – unless you're really good – to get any kind of narrative into a song of four and a half minutes. It's so complicated: 'And then he . . .' If it got as complicated as it could have been, it would really have got boring. And the thing is to not say a lot."

And also make it rhyme?

"Making it rhyme? We don't have to worry about making it rhyme."

Mick Jagger Through the Years

"Cherry Oh Baby" (reggae, only nonoriginal song, Munich, December 15th, 1974): "Yeah, we did do that about twice on the tour last year. I heard that years ago – I don't know how old it is. I think I heard it in the south of France in 1972; I may be wrong. But we just did it one day for a laugh and kept it on the album."

Is that your vocal double-tracked?

"No, Keith sings with me on that. That's Nicky [Hopkins] on organ. All of these were recorded before the tour, they just hadn't been mixed."

"Memory Motel" (Munich, March 31st, 1975): This is really a kind of sentimental love song about a lady you meet on tour. Who is that lady in question with the hazel eyes?

"Oh, no! No."

I have a suspicion – "No. But actually I don't think that there's any particular. . . it's more about the tour, really, rather than about the girl."

Is she a composite of women or one woman in particular?

"A guitar player, she is. You like that song? It is kinda nice. Ah, that's more or less the Stones, though, isn't it?. . . You think it's different?"

Musically, no. The content is, though. It's a different kind of narrative. It's certainly not "Under My Thumb."

"Yeah. It's more real."

Women's liberationists may finally accept you.


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