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Mick Jagger: The Rolling Stone Interview

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Even when it was finished, he didn't like it?
I think Keith thought it was a bit basic. I don't think he really listened to it properly. He was too close to it and just felt it was a silly kind of riff.

Did you think "Satisfaction" would become the number one pop song of this era as it has?
No, not at all.

Did you think about the problem of writing a song to follow it?
No, I didn't give a fuck. We knew it wouldn't be as good but so what.

Where were you when you wrote it?
Tampa, Florida, by a swimming pool.

Did you do a lot of your writing on tour?
Oh yeah, always. It's the best place to write because you're just totally into it. You get back from a show, have something to eat, a few beers and just go to your room and write. I used to write about twelve songs in two weeks on tour. It gives you lots of ideas. At home it's very difficult because you don't want to do anything really but read, and things like that.

I'd like to ask you a personal question about "Play With Fire." There are lines about getting your kicks in Knightsbridge and Stepney, and a rich girl, and her father's away and there is a suggestion that the guy in the song is having an affair not only with the daughter but with the mother . . .
Ah, the imagination of teenagers! Well one always wants to have an affair with one's mother. I mean it's a turn on.

Often times when you record, you mumble your lyrics. Is this done purposely as a style?
That's when the bad lines come up. I mean I don't think the lyrics are that important. I remember when I was very young, this is very serious, I read an article by Fats Domino which has really influenced me. He said "you should never sing the lyrics out very clearly."

You can really hear, "I got my thrill on Blueberry Hill."
Exactly, but that's the only thing you can hear just like you hear "I can't get no satisfaction." It's true what he said though. I used to have great fun deciphering lyrics. I don't try to make them so obscure that nobody can understand but on the other hand I don't try not to. I just do it as it comes.

For some reason people don't think about the fact that you and Keith are great writers and your lyrics like "Get Off Of My Cloud," which are really good . . .
Oh, they're not, they're crap.

"Union Jacks and Windscreens" . . . It's a nice poem.
It's nothing. Thank you for the compliment but I don't think they are great at all. If a person is that hung up on lyrics he can go and buy the sheet music because it's all there, all wrong of course but . . . You should see the one for "Dandelion," they made up another song!

How did you feel when you went on The Ed Sullivan Show and had to change the lyrics from "Let's spend the night together" to "Let's spend some time together"?
I never said "time." I really didn't. I said mumble. "Let's spend some mmmmm together, let's spend some mmmmm together." They would have cut it off if I had said "night."

When you first came to San Francisco in 1965, the Diggers put out a proclamation calling the Stones the embodiment of what they represented, the breaking up of old values. This came about after a series of songs like "19th Nervous Breakdown," "Mother's Little Helpers," "Have You Seen Your Mother" . . .
"Have You Seen Your Mother" was like the ultimate freakout. We came to a full stop after that. I just couldn't make it with that anymore, what more could we say.

But obviously these songs bothered people because for the first time rock songs were saying things that couldn't be said before, not just on a sex level like old blues tunes "I'll squeeze your lemon till the juice runs down your leg" you don't get close to things like that but what you said was strong.
I like that one very much, we used to do it. It's spending all the time in America. All these songs were written in America. It is a great place to write because all the time you are being bombarded with all of it and you can't help but try and put it in some kind of form. I think the Mothers of Invention do it so well. You could never be the Mothers if you lived here. I don't know why, you just couldn't. It's all here as well, but not so obvious. As far as I'm concerned those songs just reflect what's going on.

What about people who see your songs as political or sociological statements?
Well it's interesting, but it's just the Rolling Stones sort of rambling on about what they feel.

But no other group seems to do that.
They do, lots of groups.

What other group ever wrote a song like "19th Nervous Breakdown," or "Mother's Little Helper"?
Well, Bob Dylan.

That's not really the same thing.
Dylan once said, "I could have written 'Satisfaction' but you couldn't have written 'Tamborine Man.'"

He said that to you?
No, to Keith.

What did he mean? He wasn't putting you down was he?
Oh yeah, of course he was. But that was just funny, it was great. That's what he's like. It's true but I'd like to hear Bob Dylan sing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction."

Did you like Otis Redding's version?
Yeah, I dug it but . . . not . . . well I dug it. I think it's great cause it's sort of . . . no I'm not going to say. Well, the sounds were great and he was great when he first started off singing but then it sort of went into oooh, aaah, gotta gotta gitta which is great because that's his scene but I like Aretha Franklin's better. I was very turned on that Otis cut it.

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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