Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger and Eurythmics producer-songwriter Dave Stewart held a conference at New York City’s Essex House Thursday to talk about their collaboration on the soundtrack to the remake of the 1966 film Alfie, in stores October 19th. The movie, starring Jude Law in the title role made famous by fellow Brit Michael Caine, is due in theaters on the 22nd.
Stewart — who this year has been in the studio producing Gwen Stefani’s solo album, and hard at work on his own original material with an unnamed woman singer — explained that he and Jagger were already close. “We became friends in Paris,” he said. “We were always at the cafe, always writing songs together.”
The two worked on and off on the film for a year, recording both instrumental tracks and three original songs — “Old Habits Die Hard,” “Blind Leading the Blind” and “Let’s Make It Up” — at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios. “We were meeting with the director, sitting with the movie — a real process,” said Stewart, whose experience with soundtracks includes Showgirls, Striptease and 9 1/2 Weeks.
Jagger said he enjoys the constraints of writing music to film. “You don’t have complete freedom: Each song is written around a specific catch, really disciplined,” he said. “You’re still writing rock or pop songs, but you have to get it right for the scene. Dave and I are really precise.”
“We always wanted someone to do the Alfie song, but we didn’t know who,” Jagger said of the original movie’s title song, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. “There are seventy-six versions of it,” Stewart groaned, “mostly cabaret-style. So we stripped it down — and Joss [Stone] got it in two takes!”
Alfie, about a lady-killer in Swinging Sixties London (the remake is set in New York), seems the perfect match for Jagger. “The Alfie character, who doesn’t want to commit, is a character that’s come up again and again in literature over the last three or four hundred years,” Jagger mused. “I think it’s a stock character, a character inside all young men — and young women.”
“There aren’t any playboys anymore,” he continued, sighing. “They wrap themselves around trees in badly driven sports cars.” He denied, however, that he’d ever run wild: “I’ve always been very business-minded,” Jagger shrugged.
Jagger also addressed questions about the Stones, saying that drummer Charlie Watts, who has been battling throat cancer since the summer, is in good health: “He’s had all these treatments and he was pronounced free and clear. So we’re very glad about that.” Meanwhile, the band is set to release Live Licks, a two-CD set of their 2002-2003 fortieth-anniversary tour, on November 2nd.
Jagger also revealed that he and guitarist Keith Richards have been writing songs for a new album. “The thrill is the same,” Jagger said of performing with the band for more than forty years. “You never really know what’s going to happen.”