Well, because you aren't singing about stupid girls or under your thumb. You should see what happens when those songs are played at parties now. Some women really bristle.
"Really? They really do? Ha ha ha. It's great to actually have done that, isn't it? Without realizing it, right? Well, they [those songs] were really naive – and true. You know? I don't think there was anything wrong with them. But when I say it, it doesn't seem to come out right. But those songs really were true."
In fact, there actually are such things as stupid girls?
"Exactly. That's rather like saying that all black people can dance. See, what happens is that you say something and they think it applies to all women. Therefore they must secretly think that they were at some point – or could be – 'under my thumb, there's a girl . . . ' But if you really listen to the lyrics closely – not too closely – 'under my thumb, a girl who once had me down' – you see? It's not so unfair. Why should it apply to every girl? But I think it was really true. It's funny to think about it – it was very adolescent, those songs, about adolescent experiences. There aren't any of those kind of songs, unfortunately, on this album. We have to come up with a good one. Soon."
What about "Hey Negrita"?
"Hey Negrita" (Munich, April 2nd, 1975): "I hate telling about it. If I tell you what the song is about, will you put it in your own words?"
Okay: it's about a South American whore, and the singer, a poor man, is trying to get her price down. "One last dollar / I've got my pride / I'll cut your balls and I'll tan your hide."
"A very deep subject, eh?" It kind of has a disco sound, but at times it sounds like Bill and Charlie want to play something different.
"Well, they're not the best dancers in the world. Charlie's not bad. It's kind of half Caribbean rhythm and half not. It's kind of a strange lick but it is kind of danceable. I think that was written in the studio."
"Melody" (Rotterdam, Stones Mobile Unit, January 23rd, 1975): This one strikes me as the most radical departure on the album, with falsetto singing and a Basie-like horn arrangement.
"Actually, I do really like it. What it is, it sort of came out of something that Billy [Preston] and I were messing around with, just piano and voice. It's got an incredible amount of overdub now, but down in the nitty-gritty it's really just a rhythm section and voice, very simple, sort of four-to-the-bar kind of bass line and drums, sort of old-fashioned rhythm. And it's a duet, me and Billy."
And he's playing that kind of cocktail piano.
"I wouldn't say that. He'd get really offended. It's more sort of stride piano, isn't it?"
But you could see Bobby Short doing it, couldn't you?
"Oh yeah, it lends itself to that treatment. But it's more bluesy. All that falsetto singing is live. Billy doing the piano part and singing. Fucking marvelous."
"Fool to Cry" (Munich, December 12th, 1974): Another departure for you guys, a kind of C&W recitation part about your little daughter on your knee, saying, "Daddy, you're a fool to cry."
"Yeah, maybe Loretta Lynn will cover it. Yeah, it could be country. I wonder why we didn't do it like that! 'Dead Flowers' was country. This is quite good the way it is, though, really. Just a ballad."
That could be the single, although it's long.
"I've cut it already, to 4:15 or 4:10. You think it could be a single? A lot of people do."
"Crazy Mama" (Munich, March 29th, 1975): "That's a Rolling Stones track, right? Yeah, it's gonna be quite good onstage. We wrote that in the studio, too. All of it, my words and everything. It just came to me."
It sounds like there's a female backup chorus.
"Oh, no. No girls on the record. Do you know, girls always say to me, 'Don't use girls on the record; we really don't like it.' I think that's Billy singing high up there. He's the stand-in girl there. Keith, Billy and Ron. Yeah, at the end, it does sound like girls."
So, overall, are you happy with this "hearthrug"?
"Well, you know, it's all right. I dunno. To me, you see, it's just sort of another album. We've never had an album out that people say, 'That's the same as the last one.' I don't mean that's necessarily good or bad. They usually say it's different and then by the time it comes out they get used to it."
How much longer can the Stones survive?
(Jagger whistles, rolls his eyes, stares at the ceiling.)
"Another three months."
No, I'm serious. I asked you that last summer and –
"What did I say?"
Nothing definite, that there was no point in conjecture, that you couldn't see yourself as a 42-year-old rock & roller or whatever.
"Um. Well, I have to stop at some point, this Rolling Stones-on-the-stage-jumping-about. I suppose when you just feel it's ridiculous. I mean, when one has still got all the energy to do it, I don't see why you shouldn't do it.
"This whole thing is adolescent. Any kind of maturity is purely accidental. It doesn't really feel very much different to me than when I was 21."
This story is from the May 6th, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone.
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