THE ROLLING STONES WAY OF LIFE

PART III: The Eighties



Rock and roll is a funny thing. There are two different attitudes, right? One is the English attitude, like when Pete Townshend talks about rock and roll like a religion. And then there are the others, like me, who think it's really a lot of overblown nonsense. WHY BOTHER? I mean, it's not worth bothering about. As a form of art OR music... I DO kind of see it as a form of art, but what I'm saying is that there's no point in me trying to start some spiritual or cultural organization to DISTANCE myself from the traditions of rock and roll. It doesn't seem important enough. In other words, it's not a great movement in PAINTING. I just think... I don't know. I'm not going to take sides, really. I think the music seems to be in a pretty healthy state becuse there are so many things going on. And THEN you've got all these idiots who review rock and roll - I can't read them. All these people who try to read so much into the music, read things into it that aren't there. It's totally phony, isn't it, because I know that the things they read into it AREN'T there.

 - Mick Jagger, June 1980


(Street Fighting Man was a rallying point) but that was during the radical Vietnam time. It was merely THEN. You've always got to have good tunes if you're marching. But the tunes don't make the march. Basically, rock & roll isn't protest, and never was. It's NOT political. It's only - it promotes interfamilial tension. It USED to. Now it can't even do that, because fathers don't ever get outraged with the music. Either they like it or it sounds similar to what they liked as kids. So, rock & roll's GONE, that's all gone. You see, that was VERY important. The whole rebellion in rock & roll was about not being able to make noise at night and not being able to play that rock & roll so loud and boogie-woogie and not being able to use the car and all that... (Johnny Rotten rebelling against me) doesn't work either. Can't possibly work. It'd be like me rebelling against Eddie Cochran. Pointless. Everyone knows that those people were very good at what they did, so you can't rebel against the Rolling Stones or the Beatles. By the way, Is John Lennon ever gonna make another record? is a question I'm asked over and over. Do you know?

 - Mick Jagger, June 1980


(Rock & roll)'s healthy as ever. We all tend to forget that it's 90% crap anyway. But the 10% is GOOD. The younger kids have sort of got the right idea on how to play it, you know; they have the rigth attitude. And that's what rock & roll is: an attitude... Maybe we should try everything. Your classic rock & roll records are evolved in a very solid mold, and then it's variations on a theme, you know, which isn't that different from 19th century classical composers.

 - Keith Richards, June 1980


(These groups seeking "distance" from rock & roll) at the same time (are) using the rock & roll media AND rock & roll to set it up, to get it out. GREAT. But why bother mentioning rock & roll in the first place, if that's what we're talking about? Because - SHIT, the minute rock & roll reaches the head, FORGET IT. Rock & roll starts from the neck down. Once rock & roll gets mixed up in No Nukes and Rock Against Racism - admirable causes though they are - it's not for rock & roll to take these things up as a full-time obsession. Because nukes may obsess your brain, but they really don't obsess your CROTCH. Rock & roll: it's a few moments when you can FORGET about nukes and racism and all the other evils God's kindly thrown upon us.

 - Keith Richards, June 1980


The thing is... I never would be a cynic. But that doesn't make you not want to write some cynical references or cynical songs. But, you know, it's different being a cynical person or a cynic as a person. You can take that... that cynical stance in
a song. But it doesn't make you 100% cynical.

- Mick Jagger, July 1980


Rock and roll is a spent force in that we can't expect any more from it, either as music or an instrument for social change. It is merely recycling itself and everything is a rehash of something else. I'm not that good a musician to break out of it - it's all I can do.

- Mick Jagger, September 1981


Music is a luxury, as far as people are concerned. I'm not saying I believe that, but to people who haven't got work, and haven't got money, music will seem a luxury. In actual FACT, music is a necessity, because it's the one thing that will maybe bring you up and give you just that ltitle bit extra to keep on going, or... Who KNOWS what music does?

 - Keith Richards, September 1981


(England)'s coming to terms with a whole lot of problems that have been brewing for years, and the only thing it needed for these problems to come to a head was for the money to get tight. Everybody tolerates everything while they're doing all right, Jack; but when they're not, it's What the FUCK...? Now they gotta deal with that.... I watch (the (political situation there), you know. It's the height of cynicism for me to watch that whole power play go down. Just to see such hams get away with such a bad act over and over again, you know. I mean, it's an ongoing soap opera of the worst kind, but people still watch it.

 - Keith Richards, September 1981


(My home in England)'s a real great anchor for me. It still sticks in my throat a little that I can't, you know... what do you MEAN I make too much money to live there? You mean I can't AFFORD to live in England? It's just kind of vindictive. I mean, I can't consider us part of the brain drain or anything like that, but they certainly flushed us down their john, you know? In the bathroom of your heart, I've been flushed, dear...

 - Keith Richards, September 1981


(T)here's no ideal thing. People are people, and they're pressured into one corner or another. What is politics? Politics goes down in everything. It's ALWAYS ugly. Politics is an ugly word these days, and the only people who make politics an ugly word are politicians, because they're ugly PEOPLE. Not necessarily ugly to start with - I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt - but even if they aren't they will be after a couple of years in Washington or Moscow or London, in that circle they move in. I always look upon it as, Yeah, these are the guys who couldn't play Biloxi.

 - Keith Richards, September 1981


(W)ell, it's obvious that there is nothing to analyze (in rock lyrics). When one reads reviews, most reviews contain scathing references to the lack of writing ability of the artist, and they are nearly always right. I mean they are alwful. I mean the lapses that one has... but they don't stand. It's not really a good enough excuse to say You know it doesn't really matter because it's in a rock & roll song, it's buried underneath. Well, OK that's right enough but aren't you clever enough to be able to make it mean something as well as sounding good? You know, which is what one's supposed to do. But there are these terrific lapses of tastes because buyers are very unsophisticated people, aren't they? But they are, especially here in America. They are very young these people that buy records. I mean they may be intelligent but thay are unsophisticated... You try and give them good songs. What I mean is that you have to bear that in mind. It's a fact. Most record buyers today are very unsophisticated people.

- Mick Jagger, September 1981

I've never met a rich person yet who's FELT rich. Because from my own experience, the bigger things get and the more money you make, the more it takes to run the whole show. Especially tax attorneys. And therefore, the more you have to go out and make more money to pay them to give you... it's a diminishing return, you know? I've never felt rich. I've never really thought about it. All I'm worried about is having enough to keep the show on the road, you know. As long as that's there, then it's all right. The rest of it - what am I gonna do with it anyway? I spend half my life in the studio, and when I'm not there, I'm hustling to get on the road again. So, I mean, I can spend it, but I don't know where it goes.
 - Keith Richards, September 1981


At the time I see myself as a functioning rock singer but that's really an old way of looking at it because I can't take it seriously. In the beginning we were a serious blues band all right but I can't really be serious about what we do onstage anymore because they are such big shows. And because it's been 20 years you can dip into the oldies... It's still a lot of fun, but it doesn't seem as INTENSE as it used to be, at least to me. And the audiences aren't as intense. They aren't old fogies sitting there with handbags though... (T)hey're really young but it's still just very good-timey. I'm sure the young people see us as some sort of curiosity. Even if it's AC/DC, it's not as intense like it used to be. I guess it's just the period. Who knows? It goes like that in stages. In 1967 in England it was pretty intense.

- Mick Jagger, 1982


I don't know. I mean, I wouldn't want to end up like the Rolling Stones. Then again, I don't want to end up like the Clash, either. But the Rolling Stones haven't ended up yet. And we've never kicked anybody out of the band for ideological
reasons. If that's the way they think, they should go back to the Politburo. That's my beef with the Clash. I don't really listen to them because I can't stand that kind of pseudo-intellectualism being wound into music. It's got nothing to do with ESSENCE.

- Keith Richards, September 1983


Professional politicians are the bane of the earth. They are people who've done nothing else all their lives. When you read history, and you see how some of them screw up so incredibly, it's hard to believe that they're well-educated people. I mean, you can be in politics without being a professional politician. Certain people have certain qualities. Mrs.Thatcher, for example, has guts and all that, and she's pretty intelligent. Mr. Gromyko is a great survivor. I think it's a bit wrong, Reagan running for a second term. I think he's too old for America.

- Mick Jagger, September 1983


Well, I'm left of Reagan, I can tell you that. But one sort of questions 60s' American liberalism now, in retrospect. I think liberals made a lot of mistakes in foreign policy, and some of the right-wing people have scored major succeses. The British Labour governments never HAD a foreign policy. Reagan never had one either, I don't think. That dictator we supported in Nicaragua was definitely - I mean, anyone could tell that guy had to go. So if the Americans had wanted to be in control of that - which they were paying these people to be - they should have said, OK, your time is up, we're gonna put somebody else in. A centrist government, a left-wing coalition, whatever. Same thing with the shah of Iran. We were supposed to be in control of events in those countries - and we just never really, in actual fact, were.

- Mick Jagger, September 1983, asked about
his political allegiance


I don't think we spen(d) any long enough time in one place to soak up any localized images. I think, by this time, it's more globalized and internationalized. There's no specifics, basically, in any of the Stones' songs. The great thing is that people always manage to put their own specifics from their own situations into it. No matter where the geography is, or what kind of people, people find their own interpretation, and that's what it's for. There's no specifics. That's the beauty of it. The other beauty in it is that people WANT TO look for specifics and try to. They find their own in there. It can mean a million different things to a million different people... One of the few things the Stones have consistently done is, to get back to that horrible cliché, to be a mirror of society.

- Keith Richards, September 1983


First of all, (attending the London School of Economics) made me a snob, especially since very few people in England get to go to college. So therefore you wind up with a feeling that you're OK intellectually, when probably you're a jerk. I mean, I was trying some math tonight and I couldn't do it (laughs).

- Mick Jagger, September 1983


I've stopped living for rock & roll before (Pete Townshend) has. That presumes the fact that I ever DID live for it. I mean, yeah, when I was like 14. But I think after the age of... certainly 30, if not 25, I had ceased merely living for rock & roll itself, you know. I mean, I love rock & roll; it's wonderful. I know what the feeling is: you wake up in the morining, run down to the record store, get the new record, put it on, can't wait for all your friends to cove over. You sing it all day. You go down to the nar, you're still singing it, putting a nickle in the juke. Then you go out and see thr band at night, you know? I can do that... But being really caught up in rock & roll... that's something you do when you're a TEENAGER. It'd be stupid to do that all the time. Pete Townshend is talking about himself.

- Mick Jagger, September 1983


I mean, I'm not an anti-feminist at ALL. I never thought, for instance, women were for one thing like raising children or cooking. Aside from having the children, men can do all those roles adequately. I like working women - I come into contact with working women  more than any other kind, like singers or whatever. I never thought of myself as anti-feminist; I was always very keen on suffragettes (laughs).

- Mick Jagger, September 1983


That's a good question, and one I don't know if I can really answer. Looking at it over the years, I suppose that the Rolling Stones somehow reverberate to some currently universal vibrational note. And the basic thing is for us to respond to it and therefore have the response come back to us. It's difficult for those of us in the band to say what the Stones mean, because our view of the Stones it the most unique you can get. We've never really seen yourselves play; we've never been able to sit back and say, Ah, let's go see the Stones. Or even just buy a Stones album, and hear it fresh, 'cause we'd just sit around and say, We should have done this or that.

- Keith Richards, September 1983, asked about
the Rolling Stones' role in the greater scheme of things


I think that music can make a difference in the way people think - the same way movies can affect you - and the way you look at things, the way you look at certain subjects. But I think most popular music is - whether people say it's relevant or it WAS relevant in the 60s or it wasn't - I don't think that's in the majority of things. I don't think that's what people want to hear. I think people want to be escapists and I think that right now, in this time and place, they don't really want to hear about politics and things like that. They'd rather hear party, party, party.

- Mick Jagger, January 1984


When (Undercover of the Night) was written it was like - it's supposed to be about the repression of violence in our minds, you know, 'cause we have so much of it. It's also about repressive political systems - pretty serious stuff for Top 20 material. It's pretty risky to put out songs like that 'cause nobody's really interested in that kind of thing. I mean, everyone wants to hear about party all night long or just mumbo-jumbo. Nobody's interested in anything real.

- Mick Jagger, 1984


(T)here was always the clean-living kid next door. That's how the Beatles were sold. That's how Frankie Avalon or Elvis was (eventually) sold. Fact or fiction. I'm not accusing Boy George of being a drug addict. But, honestly, I'm afraid journalism has a lot to answer for. Responsible journalism is a very good thing, but irresponsible journalism... we have a lot of it. More in the U.K. than here. Now Duran Duran can't get really upset about that. They think it's really bad if people write, Duran Duran was all drunk. They were saying to me, So we were all drunk, but we're such a teenybop group. We didn't really ask for that; that's what we got.

- Mick Jagger, 1984, on the clean,
drug-free rock star trend/image


I think it's awful. I don't like all this religion stuff involved. Traditionally, in England, we really don't.

- Mick Jagger, 1984, asked about
the rise of religious conservatism


I just write things as I see them. If some girl's kicked me around I'll write a song about it. And if I've been treated well I'll write a song about that. Life is not always being treated well or being treated badly. Sometimes one hates the whole human race and sometimes one doesn't. I don't like to be too conscious about those kinds of social attitudes. It gets me into trouble. I've been in trouble with women, black people and whatever else.

- Mick Jagger, January 1985


There can be stuff (you write) that you think will be taken in the wrong way or is too heavy. But I'm a great believer in trying to put out all the stuff you do that's any GOOD. That's the thing about rock & roll. People understand writing about personal relationships, cars and food; but once you start to tread heavier water they question it.

- Mick Jagger, January 1985


I don't believe in being a charity queen. To make the likely rounds, turning up at charity balls and dinners wearing my diamonds. There are very few people in rock and roll who set themselves up as charity queens. But this event has got most everyone in rock and roll - I mean, Jimmy Page isn't known for his charity.

- Mick Jagger, July 1985,
performing at Live Aid


I had no intentions of going near Live Aid, I don't trust big charity events. The minute rock and roll reaches the head, forget it. Rock and roll starts from the neck down. Once rock and roll get mixed up in No Nukes and Rock Against Racism, admirable causes though they are - it's not for rock and roll to take these things up as a full-time obsession. Because nukes may obsess your brain, but they don't obsess your crotch. Rock and roll, it's a few moments when you can forget about nukes and racism and all the other evils God's kindly thrown upon us.

- Keith Richards


There's a lot of talent out there, and you can't keep it down. But the rest of the talent is being able to deal with the REST of the bullshit, the twists and turns of the - boooh - MUSIC BUSINESS. Even down to the wonderful ladies of Washington (Parental Music Resource Center) (laughs). The work comes in dealing with the entertainment industry. Between us and the audience there's no problem; the problem is the middlemen. They don't like me to say that; they'll say, You don't mean ME, do you? And I'll say, No, I wasn't talking about YOU. And in fact it's not really their fault, it's the structure of things. The go-betweens - record companies, agents - are generally people very good at selling things. That's why they've been hired. So because some guy sold more baked beans than anybody else in the whole Northwest he's in the record business now, because to these people it's UNITS, and it doesn't make a difference if it's baked beans or music. But there IS a subtle difference (laughs).

- Keith Richards, October 1985


I'm not really into all those (award) shows (laughs); a lot of people patting each other on the back. No, I mean the Grammys was always a joke program. They were never in anything that had to with rock and roll, they've only been coming around in the last couple of years. But it was always a shlock program. And it was always the people that won the most - not particularly successful - very middle-of-the-road records.

- Mick Jagger, February 1986, after receiving the
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys


I think - I don't know. I mean I never really LIKED Sinatra (smiling). I don't see any comparison... No, I'm very much - I consider the Rolling Stones and myself as very much IN the swim of things; not outside in some sort of limbo land. I think that people like Elvis considered themselves outside of the real framework of it. You know, they didn't know anything about what was going on and lived in a very sheltered way. And Frank Sinatra is an exception: he's very successful and... But, you know, they play Vegas and these things. It's a kind of closeted life in a way, you know, they play a lot of charity, (Princess) Di, Princess Grace, and all that. That is not where I - I mean, that's not a role model.

- Mick Jagger, February 1986, asked about being an
establishment figure comparable to Frank Sinatra

I always feel that the Stones are still pushing their potential. I may be wrong, but I'm still waiting for it to hit its peak. I feel the Stones are now in this unique position. If they want to stay together for the next few years we can make this thing that started off with the Fab Four/Stonesmania/teenybopper thing grow up! Seeing if we can make it mature, seeing if we can be what we are. Stop pretending this Peter Pan bullshit and become real men who can play up there like real men and act like men and still lay the stuff on them. The Stones are now the only ones in the position to do it... (O)ther people say maybe it shouldn't (grow up) - maybe adolescence is what rock and roll's about. But OBVIOUSLY it isn't or there wouldn't be anybody over 22 playing the stuff... I played with Muddy Waters six months before he died. What he was doing was pretty much the same as what we do; it's just the marketing that was different. He was like Buddha up there - a mature, dignified Buddha commanding all the respect in the world. Why shouldn't we see if rock and roll can do that?
- Keith Richards, February 1986


...And Mick Jagger who goes and watches cricket matches all the time with this children. It's just convenient to paint yourselves like that; it's a convenient hat for the Mail On Sunday or whoever. Life is always an angle for them so you GIVE them the angle. He was a rock & rollin' rebel but now he's sipping exotic drinks in Barbados and living the life of a jet-setter - wonderful '50s word, jet-setter; comes from the time when only rich people could afford to go an aeroplanes. There's always this little cupboard people put you in because they don't want to see you as a balanced whole. The classic example of that was Spitting Image where one week I was the coke-sniffing pop star strutting the stage and they decided that was out of date so two weeks later I was with the children in the supermarket. It all becomes a bit of a running soap. I find it amusing but it's not really that funny because I never wanted to be in a soap opera. I never wanted a reputation. I didn't start on this to become notorious... Being sort of sexy is one thing but I certainly never wanted to be perceived as a jet-setter. I never wanted that to take first place because it's meant that no one really listens to me anymore. It's very hard sometimes to be this monstrous public figure who was the singer in that sloppy bar band. Having been the singer in the Rolling Stones is not very satisfying, really, do you know what I mean? What's more satisfying is sitting down with someone and writing a great song in ten minutes and saying, Yeah, let's go down the pub for a drink. That's more fun and more actually satisfying because I haven't been doing this to become some sort of historical, archival figure. That's not what it's for. The reason you do it is for a laugh, that's all...

- Mick Jagger, August 1987


(We cling to simple solutions, like s)hort-term solutions in Central America. From the way they run the small countries beneath the guise of large corporations. Did it in the Philippines, supporting these people like Marcos and Somoza right up to the brink, when we shouldn't have been supporting them, probably ever. And then we wonder why we're getting unpopular. They were terrible people! There's not one person in the contras who has any political force at all (in Nicaragua). They're dreadful. It's a self-destructive policy. I don't think I'm being totally naive in thinking that if America had taken the right tack in their revolution, we would have more control now, just in real political terms.

- Mick Jagger, August 1987


I did feel that some people liked to imitate the lifestyle they imagined Keith had, and to a certain extent must be admitted that he did. I think people thought that was very glamorous. And I don't think some of them found out it was. I'm not into myth-mania. I like to destroy myths. I don't think encouraging myth-mania is fruitful, I dislike it. There are too many myths attached to musicians and their lifestyles. It limits you artistically if you're constantly fighting your myth, or encouraging one. You have to explode it.

- Mick Jagger, August 1987


Kids now... they've never known a world without rock & roll. And I did, you know? That's the difference. I mean, it was an international explosion, man. Just a few little goddamn records by some guys in Memphis and Macon and places like that, but they really did have an affect. It's absolutely amazing. It changed the world. It reshaped the way people think. I mean, goddamnit, now you've got rock & roll concerts in MOSCOW, you know what I mean? 'Cause you can't stop that shit. You can stop anything else. You can build a wall to stop people, but eventually, the music, it'll cross that wall. That's the beautiful thing about music - there's no defense against it.

- Keith Richards, August 1987


(I consider myself s)piritual, but not a deep born-again Christian or a Buddhist who rings bells or anything. I do have moral and spiritual standards that I don't want to transgress, though I might have pushed them a little when I was younger (smiles) and didn't realize what they were. I wouldn't do it now.

- Mick Jagger, August 1987


No. I'm just more and more convinced that I'll find out when I'm supposed to find out. I mean, I've been closer to death a few more times than a lot of people. And what I've found out is that whatever it is, it's worth waiting for, you know?

- Keith Richards, August 1987, on reaching
spiritual conclusions


It still seems absurd to me now that anybody can actually be put in jail for smoking marijuana or even selling it. It's absurd. Certainly this became one of the major arguments of the ('60s): This is my body, and you can't legislate what I do with it. Which is true: you CAN'T. You can't just pass laws and enforce them, as far as drugs are concerned. It doesn't work. It didn't work during Prohibition, and it doesn't work with cocaine.

- Mick Jagger, August 1987


I'm sure the principles (of the anti-drug campaign in the music industry) may be sort of admirable, but I... I know this business too well. I have to doubt the motives in many, many cases, you know? I mean, I'm not gonna smear anybody, but this is one route to getting more exposure. It's a bandwagon to jump on. And also, it's a way for the so-called system, or the authorities or whatever, to sort of harness the music for their own purposes. I mean, in England now, everybody's leaping around with the Prince and the Princess of Wales - Come over the Palace, you know? Jesus, it's ridiculous... It's basically against the whole idea of what always made rock & roll music interesting to me. I thought it was an unassailable outlet for some pure and natural expressions of rebellion. It was one channel you could take without havin' to kiss ass, you know? And right now it just seems like they're on a big daisy chain, each kissin' each other's asses.

- Keith Richards, August 1987


The best rock & roll music encapsulates a certain high energy - an angriness - whether on record or onstage. That is, rock & roll is only rock & roll if it's not safe. You know, one of the things I hate is what rock & roll has become in a lot of people's hands: a safe, viable vehicle for pop. Oh, it's inevitable, I suppose, but I don't like that sort of music. It's like, rock & roll - the best kind, that is, the real thing - is always brash. That's the reason for punk. I mean, what was punk about? Violence and energy - and THAT'S really what rock & roll's all about. And so it's inevitable that the audience is stirred by the anger they feel... Now, if that anger spills out into the street, that's not funny for people. But if it's contained within a theater and a few chairs get broken, my opinion (in the '60s) - and my opinion now - is, well, so what? But the truth is, I don't like to see people getting hurt...

- Mick Jagger, August 1987


I mean, you'll never get rid of nationalism and so-called patriotism and all that. But the important thing is to spread the idea that there's really this one planet - that's really what we've got to worry about. And all these little lines that were drawn by guys hundreds of years ago are really obsolete. And if we don't realize that, there won't be ANYTHING much in the world, you know? There's 5 billion of us now, man  - in the '50s there was only 2.5 billion. We managed to double it in thirty-some years.

- Keith Richards, August 1987


The... thing about my life and the Stones' life is that there was nothing phony about it. If anybody was going to take knocks, we were going to take the knocks along with everybody else. It isn't that we were sitting up on some comfortable faraway paradise and putting out this stuff and saying, Well, fuck yourselves up. We got beat up more than anybody.

- Keith Richards, August 1988


I didn't know they had (an anti-heroin campaign in England). It's the same (in America) - the War On Drugs. They let them fly the shit in a couple of years ago so long as the guys who brought it in flew guns down to Nicaragua. There is no such thing as a War On Drugs, it's a PR campaign. It's not taken seriously and they don't give a shit. They should. But they don't. Only when it becomes a "campaign issue" and then they spend billions of tax payers' money on Just Say No and The Big Lie About Cocaine. But there's a bigger lie than that. As usual. It's like, what can we make a big deal about? I'd rather they made a big deal about the ozone layer.

- Keith Richards, August 1988


(My skull ring) is to remind me that we're all the same under the skin. The skull - it has nothing to do with bravado and surface bullshit. To me, the main thing about living on this planet is to know who the hell you are and to be real about it. That's the reason I'm still alive.

- Keith Richards, August 1988


The one thing you find out when you make a lot of money - and it always sounds TRITE when you say it, but it isn't - is that that's not the important thing. It doesn't add one iota to your happiness in life. It just means you have different problems to deal with. And it brings its own problems. Like Who are you going to put on retainer? It's much better to be rich than poor, but not for the reasons that you automatically think.

- Keith Richards, August 1988


(W)hen you grow up and have a kid, you think about a lot of things. It changes your life, your thinking. The kid is your little thing, and you think, Goddamn, I helped make that. And it's all full or purity and innocence, and it's just smiling at you and wants to kiss you and hug you, and all it wants to do is just feel you and touch you, and you never felt so loved in your life. It's that bit of love you gave your own parents, the bit you don't remember - your kid gives that back to you. And you realize, I've just been given the first two or three years of my life back. It's a vital piece of knowledge; it's like a missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle... What children do to you is grow YOU up, make you think, What the hell am I gonna leave behind when I'm gone? It's throwing them into a fucking cauldron of pollution and fear... We can be incredibly callous about ourselves. There are so many of us, and the forces of nature are relentless.

- Keith Richards, September 1988


If I knew what the original sin was, I would DO it and let you know.

- Keith Richards, September 1988


If everything went fascist, which is quite likely, you might feel moved to do something, but how to do it and what would have the best effect is another thing. Music is already a reaction... so you're only saying what you know a lot of other people are feeling anyway.

- Keith Richards, December 1988


I'm a guitar player. I'm as bemused by what goes on in the world as anybody else and I really see myself as the extension of a very long tradition of troubadours and balladeers and musicians throughout the ages. I'm not trying to influence anybody in any particular way. I'm far more comfortable with describing how things affect me and seeing if that relates to people than deliberatetly trying to express what I think is going down in the world... I find there's only so much you can say on a political or a social level. If you keep on doing it it starts to get hollow. And it's the same with Bob Dylan. Bob probably wrote some of the best social commentaries in the '60s that anybody's ever written. You can't keep on... you can only say that sort of thing once or twice with any real conviction or otherwise you're just repeating yourself. And I don't think rock and roll music's strong point is in being so pointed.

- Keith Richards, December 1988


One thing that did get over the Iron Curtain was music. You can buy Rolling Stones records in Moscow on the black market at 65 bucks a piece. And many other artists too. I think a generation of all that has been - I won't say a main factor - but a strong factor in the reason that Gorbachev has said, We can't keep the gates locked anymore. We've got to start to converse with people otherwise we're screwed. And so maybe music has en effect... The power of music, the essence of it is not so much what is said but the fact that it is there.

- Keith Richards, December 1988


I always prefer (thinking of fucking) to thinking of Maggie Thatcher. England's weird in that it likes an iron maiden. From Bodecia, Elizabeth I, Victoria, when monarchy meant something - under a woman they blossom. They love mummy. A cabinet minister can walk out of a meeting with the Prime Minister and say, Well, what could I do? She's a woman. I had to give in. It's an excuse. The English love the mistress with a whip in her hand, they're quirky that way, especially when you get up to that strata of English society. I have this weird ambivalent feeling about England. In one way, What a tyrant!, on the other side of it, anything's preferable to the previous 20 years of wishy-washy not knowing what's going on. They just wanted someone to come along with a big stick and bash them into shape. Even guys that I know that were fairly left-wing are comfortable under Maggie at the moment. So I look at it from the otuside and wonder what's going on there too. And you can't turn the clock back so there's nothing she can do about the '60s... There's a lot of Mary Whitehouse in Maggie. She's very prim and proper. On the other hand, on the surface, she seems to have whipped the country into a comfortable shape. What do most people care about? Most of England feels that one way or anther there is more bread rolling in, there's more employment. Most people worry about the money in their pockets, whether they can feed themselves and so the major task is to make sure that things are at least moving. Whereas nothing seemed to be moving in the '70 in England. It was one wet flannel after another. Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan... everything was just dissolving, more and more people unemployed... So I think there's a very ambivalent attitude towards Maggie otherwise she wouldn't have got back in in '87.

- Keith Richards, December 1988


To me the most important thing, if I was to make a demonstration, is Just give me enough air to breathe. This is the one thing that worries me, whether my kids are going to have any air left to breathe or what... What's the point of fighting about little portions of the earth... little ants in fratricide and homicide and national boundaries when we're probably polluting ourselves out of the whole game anyway. That's a far greater danger to me. The ozone layer has a hole in it. The weather's changing. All kinds of shit's going down. We don't even know what we're doing to it. It's a global question... All other problems pale into insignificance... We could be put down as the generation that destroyed the world. There's no two ways about the world. We're on the verge of destroying this world. As my dad says, a fox never shits in its own hole.

- Keith Richards, December 1988


Mick's more of a preacher than I am... With Mick I can sit down and write on a more political level, a more social level, because he can deliver it that way. To me, when I get down to it, there's really not very much difference. A song about you and I is really about the same thing at a more intimate level. It's just a matter of can we get along? And that's after all what society is. And that's all politics are. Between us all, how do we get along?

- Keith Richards, December 1988

Of course, we're doing it for the money, AS WELL. We've always done it for the money. People get highly paid in rock & roll. That's why it's so attractive. It's like boxing. People don't do boxing for nothing. They start off doing it because they hope to get to the top, because when they get to the top, they'll make lots of money. I mean, THAT'S America.
- Mick Jagger, August 1989


The interesting thing about music is that it has always seemed streaks ahead of any other art form or any other form of social expression. I've said this a million times, but after air, food, water and fucking, I think music is maybe the next human necessity. The myth in the 60s was that it was more than entertainment. But music is the best communicator of all. And I doubt that anybody would disagree, if they thought about it, that a lot of the reason you've got some sort of - I don't know whether you wanna call it togetherness - anyway, some major shifts in superpower situations in the past few years probably has a lot to do with the past 20 years of music.

- Keith Richards, 1989


I have another point on (tour) sponsorship - which I don't really like. I think Keith and I both agree. I would personally prefer to do the show without sponsorship, and I told Anheuser-Busch (promoters of the 1989 Steel Wheels tour) the same thing when they asked me. But for the people with our Canadian promoter, it's useful for them, because it gives them a lot of TV presence and awareness. You can sell 2 million tickets quite easily. But when they want to get out there and do 3 million-plus tickets, that's the bit that's hard to sell. The LAST bit, you know what I'm saying? So their attitude, which they sell to us, is that you get that TV sponsorship, which is money that they could never use for advertising, because it's so expensive, and with that you get the awareness. You never know how much you would sell without it. Yes, you would have sold 2 million tickets - but would you have sold 3? That's American in the '80s. Now it's another question whether you like it or not. If you're under 30, I don't see that you'd have any problem with it. The people that are over 30, like probably all of us are, have a different attitude... The '60s people, we don't like it... And we don't want to do ads. We say, Sponsoring the tour only. When the tour's gone, you're gone. You never see us with a can saying, Drink this. You might say, Well, that's a bit splitting hairs, but to us, it isn't.

- Mick Jagger, December 1989


I find it funny - it's always the Americans that get up in arms about sponsorship - and it's their system.

- Keith Richards, December 1989

 
 

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