People are obviously going to take a few of these songs on the new LP as being about your domestic situation.
Well, I actually mention "my wife" in "Respectable."
"Get out of my life, go take my wife — don't come back." And there's also: "You're a rag trade girl, you're the queen porn/You're the easiest lay on the White House lawn."
Well, I just thought it was funny. "Respectable" really started off as a song in my head about how "respectable" we as a band were supposed to have become. "We're" so respectable. As I went along with the singing, I just made things up and fit things in. "Now we're respected in society . . ." I really meant us. My wife's a very honest person, and the song's not "about" her.
But people will probably take this song, as well as the album, to be about you, in the same way they took Blood on the Tracks to be about Dylan or John Lennon's "I don't believe in Beatles" song to be about him.
But it's very rock & roll. It's not like "Sara." "Respectable" is very lighthearted when you hear it. That's why I don't like divorcing the lyrics from the music. 'Cause when you actually hear it sung, it's not what is, it's the way we do it.
I'll let the existentialists debate that statement, but "Respectable" certainly does sound a lot like "Miss Amanda Jones."
Yeah, it's not that serious: "Get out of my life, go take my wife — don't come back" . . . it's not supposed to be taken seriously. If it were a ballad, if I sang it like: "Pleeese, taaake my wiiiiife" — you know what I mean? — well, it's not that, it's just a shit-kicking, rock & roll number.
I've heard you sing "Stray Cat Blues" and take those lightly malicious, flippant verses and turn them into a dark elegy — which was really unnerving and just the opposite of what you're saying here.
It's whatever works. "Respectable" is light-hearted. So is "Lies." We don't over-emotionalize the way we sing them.
Keith Richards once said something to the effect that rock & roll really is subversive because the rhythms alter your being and perceptions. With your words and your rhythms, your stuff could do, and has done that, don't you think?
Rhythms are very important. But subvert what?
Well, Keith Richards' implication was that words could be used to lie, but that what the Stones did was just to let you see clearly the way things were. And that that vision — or so I inferred — was what was subversive.
Maybe Keith did mean that. Music is one of the things that changes society. That old idea of not letting white children listen to black music is true, 'cause if you want white children to remain what they are, they mustn't.
Look at what happened to you [laughing].
Exactly! You get different attitudes to things . . . even the way you walk . . .
And the way you talk.
Right, and the way you talk. Remember the Twenties when jazz in Europe changed a lot of things. People got more crazy, girls lifted up their dresses and cut their hair. People started to dance to that music, and it made profound changes in that society . . . This sounds awfully serious!
To keep on the semiserious keel for a second, the song "Some Girls" seems to be about what happens when hundreds of idealized Twenties girls — like the ones drawn by Guy Peelaert on your It's Only Rock 'n' Roll album — decide to come to life and, like maenads, try to eat you up, destroy you — taking your money and clothes and giving you babies you don't want.
Well, it could be a bad dream in a way. I had a dream like that last night, incidentally, but there were dogs as well as girls in it.
Maybe you can call your next album Some Dogs.
[Laughing] I'd get in trouble with the anti-dog defamation league.
I wonder what the girls and women, of all races, in the audience are going to think of lines like: "Black girls just want to get fucked all night, I just don't have that much jam!" or "Chinese girls, they're so gentle — they're really such a tease."
I think they're all well covered — everyone's represented [laughing]. Most of the girls I've played the song to like "Some Girls," They think it's funny; black girlfriends of mine just laughed. And I think it's very complimentary about Chinese girls, I think they come off better than English girls. I really like girls an awful lot, and I don't think I'd say anything really nasty about any of them.
Are you running for president?
[Laughing] The song's supposed to be funny.
I couldn't help noticing that the way you sing lines like "Some girls they're so pure, some girls so corrupt" are perfect mimicries of Bob Dylan's phrasing and tone of voice during his Blonde on Blonde period.
If that's how you think of it . . . yeah. Dylan's very easy to imitate. Sometimes I imitate Van Morrison, too, for laughs. That song is a kind of joke, too, but you haven't got it yet, so I'm not going to tell you.
The chorus of the song goes: "So give me all your money, give me all your gold,/ I'll buy a house back at Zuma Beach and give you half of what I owe," Isn't Zuma Beach up in Malibu, near where Dylan lives?
Is it? . . . "Some Girls" isn't really about me.
"Some girls take my money, some girls take my clothes,/ Some girls take the shirt off my back and leave me with a lethal dose." I wonder whom those lines are about?
No reply [laughing]. I made most of it up just off the bat. I made it up as I went along. I had another version of the song, but when it came to the take, I sang a completely different version — it was eleven minutes long — and then edited it down.
I remember that when I wrote it, it was very funny. 'Cause we were laughing, and the phone was ringing, and I was just sitting in the kitchen and it was just coming out . . . and I thought I could go on forever!
The first time I heard it, I started making up my own lyrics: "Green girls get me anxious/Blue girls get me sad,/Brown girls get me silly,/And red girls make me mad." It's like a kid's song.
[Laughing] That's why I said it wasn't serious, it's just anything that came to my head.
Do you remember the Beach Boys"' California Girls"?
Yeah, I love that song.
Well, it seems to me that instead of all the girls in your song being California girls, they've all turned into a different type of girl, and certainly from another state!
I know what you mean. I never thought of it like that. I never thought that a rock critic of your knowledge and background could ever come out with an observation like that [laughing].
You mean it's pretentious?
Not at all. It's a great analogy. But like all analogies, it's false [laughing].
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