ABF Friday: Special Charlie Watts Edition!
Over the holidays I’ve finally gotten a few hours to put “songs” on my “iPod.” No, I didn’t get an iPod for Molochmas—I got an iPod for my birthday, over three months ago. That’s how inhumanely busy my life has been this past fall: I didn’t even have time to round up CDs and transfer them to the iPod until just this week. “Dad,” Nick said last week, with filial pity in his voice, “you can transfer things to the iPod on your laptop while you’re doing other things.” “True enough,” I replied. “But first I have to find the CDs, and that takes a great deal of time, because, you see, none of the CDs in this house are in their CD cases. For example, in your room you have approximately 400 CD cases, including some that nominally belong to me, like Ziggy Stardust and the Ramones’ first two albums. But lo! There are no CDs in them. Where are those CDs, pray tell?”
“I don’t know,” Nick replied.
“Well, then,” I said, “is it possible for you to download those things from your iPod onto my laptop, thence to my iPod?”
“It’s possible, sure,” Nick mused, “but they don’t really want you to do it, of course, because it’s not really ‘legal.’”
“I understand completely,” I nodded. “Artists should be compensated for their hard work, and so should corporate megaconglomerates. But I wonder whether we can’t make an exception for families in which, say, one person takes another person’s CD, downloads the songs onto an iPod, and then leaves the CD someplace behind the dryer with the lost socks.”
All of which is to say that I have worked long and hard to gather what Rolling Stones I have on hand, so that I can bring you today’s Arbitrary But Fun Charlie Watts edition. Eighteen months ago, at my very first blogger meetup, Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Scott Lemieux asked me for my professional opinion of Charlie Watts, and I promised them (in the course of answering them) that I would post something on this critical topic one of these days. So it’s taken me until my final week of blogging, but here it is.
Now, since many of you know that my house is a Beatles-besotted house, I should explain a few things about my relation to the Stones. First, I came along when they were just about done: I didn’t start listening to music as if it mattered until my early teen years, and by 1974 the Stones, like Gerald Ford during his Polydor years, had already recorded most of their best work. (Anyone who tries to put in a good word for Emotional Rescue or Tattoo You or any of their dessicated sequelae will be banned from this blog for the remaining days of its existence.) So my first Stones hit was “It’s Only Rock and Roll,” which, like most songs dealing with the love of rock and roll or the heart of rock and roll or the just give me old-time rock and rollness of rock and roll, sucks. By 1978, the music-literate high-school seniors with whom I hung out—the ones who dismissed Darkness on the Edge of Town as one anthem after another (prove it all night!) and declared Who are You? DOA just before Keith D’d—were ambivalent about Some Girls. One of my friends played it every day without fail; another insisted that only one or two of its songs could stand up with the fare of Sticky Fingers or Exile on Main Street. Then in my sophomore year of college, I met Mark Rykoff, who’s remained a dear friend ever since; it was Mark who led me past the various gaudy attractions of “Gimme Shelter” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and pointed me to things like “Sway” and the really quite amazing “Torn and Frayed.” Here, he said. Listen to these things. This is why I love the Stones. Yes, they’re a great rock and roll band and all, perhaps the greatest garage band ever to emerge from the UK, the Clash included; but, Mark said, what’s really great about them is the way they play sloppy.
He’s right about that, you know. To this day, it remains the one place in rock where the Stones could go and the Beatles couldn’t: to the half-drunken late-night jam just before the police knock and those doors fly back, when the joint is still reelin’ and rockin’ and nobody really gives a shit if the band is all together. Even Lennon’s “Yer Blues” is decorum itself compared to “Carol” or “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.” Of course, that’s the problem with the Stones, too: from “Honest I Do” on their first LP to “Cherry Oh Baby” on Black and Blue, they can sound like utter crap. And not in a good way, either. Neither of those songs should ever have been committed to vinyl or any other medium. I mean, let’s have some quality-control standards around here, people.
(A brief aside: thanks to Mark’s sage guidance, I once went through the entire Stones catalog and made a couple of compilation tapes of my favorite pre-1973 things of theirs, including lots of things like their cover of O. V. Wright’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” These were among the first tapes swiped from me at various U. Va. grad-student parties in 1983-85. Whoever has those tapes, or the tape on which I segued from the Talking Heads’s “The Great Curve” to Babatunde Olatunji’s “Kiya Kiya” to the Clash’s “Magnificent Seven” to Grace Jones’s “Pull Up to the Bumper”—now, that was some booty-shakin’ material—you better give them back or I’ll come and get you when I’m through with this here blog.)
So what does this Stoney sloppiness have to do with Charlie Watts? Well, everything, of course. Those of you who are familiar with my various accounts of the Beatles know that I explain the discrepancy between Ringo’s crispness and brilliance on minor ditties like “What Goes On” and “Old Brown Shoe” and Ringo’s general incompetence on songs like “Think For Yourself” or “Revolution” by invoking my Two Ringoes Theory. Nobody believes me when I tell them the Beatles were using two completely different drummers, both of whom were named Ringo Starr and both of whom had an adorably flat, nasal singing voice. But if you sheeple prefer to live in a cheering political paradigm in which everything is just as George Martin says it is, that’s fine by me. The simple fact remains that there were two Ringoes, and if the CIA hadn’t assassinated Jimmy Nicol just before he was supposed to meet with me in 1988, I could prove it to you right now.
Anyway, there is only one Charlie Watts. But he has two modes of drumming: metronomic and attentive. For reasons known only to Charlie himself, he seems to have decided that songs such as “Satisfaction” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” are best served by the metronomic. I don’t get it, myself. Not that you’d want Keith Moon or Clem Burke banging away all over songs like those, but really, just a little variation, an accent here or there, a slight rise in temperature . . . these things can do wonders for a song! Take “Brown Sugar”: again, very simple, Rock Drumming 101 kind of stuff, and then that one little half-bar fill during the solo. Was that so hard? Or the great driving force of “Paint It Black,” with those deft rolls on the toms. Or the snap-to smacks on the snare in the second verse of “Shine a Light,” right after the words “when you’re drunk” and then on three successive whole-note intervals. Couldn’t Charlie have contributed something like that to those other songs? He’s supposed to be a jazz fan and all, it could have been something subtle and understated. But no, it’s just the metronome. It’s like he’s, I dunno, just marking time or something. And the metronome can be a serious problem on Stones songs that start off with great riffs and then don’t go anywhere from there, because the riff is the only thing they’re based on. There are many of these; the best of them is probably “Under My Thumb,” the most disappointing “Monkey Man.” A little judicious kick-start from the drummer might’ve helped—you know, the kind of kick-start you get from “Route 66.”
Weirdly, some of Charlie Watts’ most attentive work comes on the meandering melancholy mid-period songs, like “Angie” or “Memory Motel.” Despite the badly-played little cymbal flourish at the very end of “Memory Motel,” for example, the rest of the song contains some pretty nice drumming, clever and dramatic and understated all at once. It’s as if Mr. Watts decided that his talents would be put to better use on such songs, or on magnificently sloppy things like “Torn and Frayed,” while the Glimmer Twins took the lead on some of the Greatest Hits.
But there’s something else about Charlie’s drumming, as well. Bill Wyman put his finger on it, so to speak, in an interview about 35 years ago; Mark and I chewed over this interview word by word back in 1981 when we came across it, not least because it seemed to address the Sloppy Stones question in a way that satisfied our penchant for preferring technical engine-room answers to the usual rock-critic blather. (My personal fave in this genre: the great Elvin Jones, when asked in 1982 by Modern Drummer whether he’d gone to the 18-inch bass drum for a “jazzier, poppier sound,” replying that he’d gotten an 18-inch bass drum because it fits in the trunk of his car. He’d always wanted one of those huge 28-inch Jelly Roll Morton-era bass drums, he explained, but he had to keep tying it to the top of his car, see, and it kept falling off. . . .) According to Wyman, what made the Stones’ sound distinctive was that the band took its time from Keith and not from Charlie. That’s why, Wyman said, the Stones can sound a little bit off here and there, a little bit ahead of or behind the bar, even if just by a hundredth of a second or so. But it’s also why they sound so vivid and surprising on some of the bluesier R&B numbers. Of course, real drummers (at least the ones I spoke to at the time) were horrified by this, because to them it’s a little like saying, “in this body we rely on the liver to pump the blood, OK, and the heart follows along.” ‘Cause, you know, the heart of rock and roll is the beat. Not the liver! But Wyman’s probably right about this, because, (a) uh, he should know, and (b) it helps to make sense of why some of Charlie’s best work would appear on slower tunes where his drumming is almost incidental to the development of the song.
One last thing about the Stones. I was listening to “Hand of Fate” the other day—perhaps the only song on Black and Blue that wouldn’t appear out of place on, say, side four of Exile. I suggest you go listen to it right now, and turn it up loud for Wayne Perkins’ searing solo, which begins at the 1:31 mark. Not only is it a great little piece of guitar work that takes its song to the Next Level (catch the flourish at 1:56, too, and Charlie’s timely helping hand at 1:48); it’s also the last time the Stones recorded anything like it. Yep, it’s been over thirty years now since the Stones had a proper guitar solo on one of their records. Heh heh heh, oh my yes. Why, I remember when they played with all six strings! And then they decided to hire that sloppy-playin’ tousled-hair fellow Ron Wood instead, no doubt because they just couldn’t imagine life on tour with a Stone named Wayne—or (even worse) a Stone named Harvey, like Harvey Mandel, who plays that circuituous, squawky solo on “Hot Stuff.” After that, it’s almost as if the Stones joined the ranks of the hair bands, except that they were rather wrinklier than Poison.
Few boomers will argue with your assessment of the Stones (post-"Exile" & “Sticky Fingers” Stonestends to be crap). In addition, I thank you for pointing out that “It’s Only Rock n Roll” and its ilk are tiresome---a line of lazily inspired songs that goes back to Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock”, which is better as a rcoabilly melody ran a vocal. But what’s the point?
Shoule we be debating the Stones, drummers, anthems, or the more general category of performers who tend to be viewed as “sidemen” more than collaborators. For example, drummer Dewey Martin, whose legal tangles with Richie Furay and others prevented Atlantic from issuing a Buffalo Springfield box set until a few years ago. That band is a good example of one who’s earnest, overplayed “big hit” ("For What it’s Worth") is easily the weakest of their releases (the eliptical “On the Way Home”, “Rock n Roll Woman”, or the 45-worthy “Merry Go-Round” are much better). But that’s another Friday.Posted by on 01/05 at 11:08 AM
a line of lazily inspired songs that goes back to Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock”
Or could go back, if we’re more generous, to the excellent “All Around the World” (All Around the World / Rock n roll is all they play). I have two versions, one by Lil’ Millet, another by Little Richard, and they both, uh, rock. I agree with your assessment of the Bill Haley song. I wouldn’t even call it rockabilly; it’s always struck me as a WWII-era big band vocal melody: interesting, given that rock and roll supplanted just that kind of melody. We could hear it as a chirpy little dirge if we like.Posted by on 01/05 at 11:18 AM
I’m no drummer but to me it always sounded like Ringo (both of them) was following, not setting, the beat.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in 2006 was to buy A Bigger Bang, which I immediately “downloaded” to my “iPod.” Now when any of those songs (all of which seem interminably long) come up on “Shuffle Mode” I have to quick grab the device and fast forward. One of these days I’m going to cut that CD into little pieces—oops, I meant to say I’m going to delete the songs.Posted by on 01/05 at 11:31 AM
Um, folks, may I briefly mention two of my favorite rock drummers, guys who were quick, creative and had distinctive styles of drumming--and for me, defined how to drum for rock music?
Drum roll, please, Buddy Rich (who was the fastest drummer I ever saw!):
and, wait for it…
Phil Collins. Yup, listen to the back beats throughout “Selling England by the Pound” album, particularly “Firth of Fifth,” “Battle of Epping Forest” or “Cinema Show”. Or Collins’ work in 9/8 time near the end of “Supper’s Ready” from the “Foxtrot” album.
And Bruford, does anyone really beat his beats in “Heart of the Sunrise” on “Fragile” or in “Close to the Edge” (title song), where Bruford and bassist Chris Squire are in a remarkable sync throughout various portions of the song? Or how about Bruford’s work with Crimson on tracks such as “One More Red Nightmare” and “Starless and Bible Black” from the “Red” album? And oh yes, on the first “U.K.” album in 1978, whoa! Bruford moves back and forth from 7/4 to 4/4 and never loses any rock sensibility. Out-standing!
Honorable mentions go to (1) Barrimore Barlow of Tull on “Thick as a Brick” and most definitely “A Passion Play” and (2) the late Pip Pyle of National Health (second album, “Of Queues and Cures” is brilliant; third album, “Toad of Toad Hall” is nothing short of amazing).
Ringo and Watts strike me as being of bar band, if not garage band quality and are only discussed because they were in the two top bands of the 1960s.
Well, folks, have at it. But I am glad Michael has finally cleared up that mystery about the Beatles’ “third” drummer and the two Ringoes. Of course, I always thought the third drummer was an accomplice in the death of Paul McCartney around that time. Number 9, number 9, number 9....Posted by Mitchell Freedman on 01/05 at 11:59 AM
I too enjoyed the piece (though not as much as the Elmo - or any other or your Jamie stories) and concur about the two Ringos but what struck me most was this:
“So it’s taken me until my final week of blogging, but here it is.”
Huh?Posted by on 01/05 at 12:19 PM
I can’t stand this—your FINAL week of blogging? You know you don’t mean it. Make yourself scarce, if you must, but don’t abandon us altogether!Posted by on 01/05 at 12:23 PM
Reckoned it was about time to trot out the stale old drummner jokes again.Posted by on 01/05 at 01:16 PM
until my final week of blogging...
Okay. Cough it up.Posted by Roxanne on 01/05 at 01:37 PM
Yes, CJ and Flora, you’re living in this blog’s final days. Something is about to happen to this humble blog, I can just feel it. Something big and explosive and always already splitting, something that doesn’t involve Ted Haggard. Check back on Monday or Tuesday of next week, Rox.
Mitchell, Bruford is a genius. But (since you and I will never see eye to eye on prog rock) drummers like him provoke the eternal Drummers’ Dilemma, namely, would you rather be a brilliant drummer on complex but unlistenable (cough) compositions or a fair-to-middling drummer on brilliant compositions? Ringo was so fortunate as to travel the latter route, and in his defense (since he was never shy about admitting to his limitations), he handled everything the Beatles threw at him—and in ways that more accomplished but less versatile drummers might not have been able to deal with. It’s kinda hard to believe that the same metronome who mails it in for “I Shoulda Known Better” is the crisp clever fellow behind “Please Please Me” or “I Feel Fine.” And sometimes I think, well, what would I do if someone gave me “Tomorrow Never Knows”?Posted by Michael on 01/05 at 01:42 PM
Maybe if you parcelled out your words you could keep the blogging up for more than one more week?
And two answers to implied questions: Steve Goulding (check out this bio as proof) and V.U.’s “Rock and Roll.”Posted by George on 01/05 at 01:46 PM
What kills me about the Stones is that in 42 years not one of them has improved on their instruments !
You’d think you’d get better just by accident ! Also if you notice on video, Charlie has to stop playing his hi-hat so he can play the backbeat. Independence ? Not so much....
Two words: Mitch MitchellPosted by on 01/05 at 01:47 PM
I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed your blogging for some time yet have been remiss in saying so before now. How typically human, eh? To wait until the last minute to speak up . . .
Anyway, I certainly hope you consider a hiatus instead of stopping altogether. The Jamie stories are indeed inspirational and always beautifully written, as is everything else you post, and I’d hate to think we have no future enchantments from you to look forward to. But if you do decide to pack up the digital bags, please know you’ll be sorely missed, and that you have been a constant source of enjoyment and humor for a great many people.Posted by jason on 01/05 at 01:47 PM
Snuck that little bye-bye bomb in, didn’t you? Well, whatever you do, it’s been a good ride.
See, you get these guys published on paper with looming ghostly floating Zardoz heads on the front and they go all meatworld on you.Posted by Ron Sullivan on 01/05 at 01:52 PM
And I was having a really good week, too. Fridays might still be arbitrary, but they’ll never be the same.Posted by Roxanne on 01/05 at 01:56 PM
Oh, how things slip by.... I still have my lp of Christo Redemptor, purchased back in the days when Siegel-Schwall Blues Band and Charlie Musselwhite (not to mention Butterfield and Bloomfield) were making white inroads into Chicago blues.
Though I did see Mandel during his brief stint with Canned Heat, I never knew that he had ever hopped the pond or consorted with the Stones.Posted by Aaron Barlow on 01/05 at 01:59 PM
1. When Watts joined the Stones, he had to learn to play rock and roll. Richards and Jones had him listen to a whole bunch of Jimmy Reed records. Watts’ 1987 interview with Down Beat has this and more.
2. Of course, real drummers (at least the ones I spoke to at the time) were horrified by this, because to them it’s a little like saying, “in this body we rely on the liver to pump the blood, OK, and the heart follows along.” ‘Cause, you know, the heart of rock and roll is the beat. Not the liver!
Unless the lead liver is a former drummer and all-around percussive guy like Gerald Ford. Allan Leeds on the Funky President and his drummers (emphasis in the original):
James was really tough on drummers and would wear them out. Every few months you’d look and there’d be a different combination of drummers up there, each one as great as the next, but each with a different feel, a different flavor. He would have two or three different drummers on the road and in the studio, and their roles would change. There would be a lead drummer for each song who was basically playing the song as if her were the only drummer in the band. Then there would be a second drummer, who would be there for accents. Whoever had that secondary role on a given song watched James’ feet or his hands, and every hand signal, every move of the foot demanded a rim shot or a kick drum accent. The drummers were like the quarterbacks of this football team. And there was very little scripted. On a given night James might decide to move this way, move that way, and all of this demanded that the drummer be on it. In the mid-sixties, beginning with records like “Out of Sight” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” he started to take this kind of spontaneity that made him special onstage and translate that into the recording studio. He wanted to push the envelope, and thankfully he was in a recording situation that enabled him to do that.
Quoted in Robert Palmer’s Rock & Roll: An Unruly History, p. 244.
3. Final week, last throes? Say it ain’t so!Posted by J— on 01/05 at 02:07 PM
Is it the last throes, or are we about to turn a corner in this blog?
Captcha: wall, as in stonewall. Where’s the Ministry of Information when you need it?Posted by on 01/05 at 02:15 PM
What kills me about the Stones is that in 42 years not one of them has improved on their instruments!
By contrast with McCartney, notably, who was really quite a remarkably inventive bassist by 1969. Though if you listen very very carefully, you can find clever little bass riffs hiding in any number of Beatles tunes: check bar six in the second and third verses of “Got to Get You Into My Life” (the first one occurs at the 0:46 mark) and you’ll hear some nimble-fingerin’ at work. His bass line on “Getting Better” is extraordinary, as is his countermelody on “Nowhere Man,” but I think I’ve mentioned these before. You know how it feels when you think you’re just repeating yourself over and over again?
Which brings me to these Final Days. Ron, whatchu mean about sneaking in the bye-bye bomb? I’ve been droppin’ hints for weeks, and made it pretty explicit in comment 43 of this thread. But I’ll save the final farewell for the final final day.
And Treb, blogs don’t have corners. The Internet is not a grid, you see, it’s a series of tubes balanced on the back of a turtle, who is standing on another turtle. . . .Posted by on 01/05 at 02:32 PM
No cannot stop blogging.Posted by ted on 01/05 at 02:34 PM
Meh. “Tattoo You” is a solid album and well worth listening to. But then, as my maternal grandmother was fond of saying, you can never account for taste or breeding.Posted by on 01/05 at 02:38 PM
...the final farewell for the final final day.
Wait a minute. Anybody plan for this? Who has a good Phase IV plan? ANY Phase IV plan? Will we be regrouping by sects.....I said S-E-C-T-S? Will we be dead-enders? So little Time. Must. Think.
Why (capthcha), oh why? Oh, the humanities!Posted by on 01/05 at 02:49 PM
Jim, you have the entire weekend to plan a Post-Blog Study Group. Why, I hear that Bush himself spent almost three hours thinking about this! Sure, that almost-three-hour meeting involved a couple of bathroom breaks and a few rounds of flatulence jokes, but still.Posted by on 01/05 at 03:10 PM
So it’s taken me until my final week of blogging, but here it is.
Your final week of blogging and you’re wasting it on Charlie Watts??
And btw, no way the Stones out class The Clash, in any category.
(Can you tell I’m not a Stones fan?)Posted by Dr. Virago on 01/05 at 03:17 PM
Well Michael, I’m not going to be around next week, so I’ll start my farewells now. It’s been a pleasure, and I’ve certainly learned a lot during my brief stay here. Good luck with your many endeavors, and I’m sure I can survive without knowing what exactly you mean by “basis”. In all likelihood we’ll all be re-enacting scenes from The Postman (which is sad, because it’s just an awful awful movie) before long, which will of course render everything discussed here irrelevant. As they say, smoke’m while ya got’m. Later all.
...this is great. I can finally destroy this alias.Posted by Centrally Certified Content Publisher on 01/05 at 03:58 PM
But I’ll save the final farewell for the final</i> final day.</i>
Oh! The GNF! Now that’s a good reason for the end-of-blog. Now is the (captcha) hour!Posted by on 01/05 at 04:14 PM
oh dear gnf I’ve become htmilliterate.Posted by on 01/05 at 04:15 PM
The President has just ordered all Bloggers to remain at their blogs for another six month interval. You signed up to be a Blogger, that’s the breaks.
Oh, and you must escalate your blog output to give it one last shot--at least that’s what Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Joe Biden told me…Posted by Mitchell Freedman on 01/05 at 04:19 PM
So it’s taken me until my final week of blogging,
Lalala, I can’t hear you!
Plus, I’ll be out of it next week, and as we all know - if a blog stops when no-one is around to see, it didn’t! So I urge all regulars to just not read this blog next week.Posted by on 01/05 at 04:25 PM
final week of blogging? I distinctly remember some teasers for future Theory Tuesdays…
captcha: hotel. “You treat this place like an hotel”Posted by on 01/05 at 04:33 PM
Keith definitely improved between ‘64 and beggar’s banquet.
Check Charlie out on Moonlight Mile: he dominates that tune.
Kind of liked some of Wyman’s bass lines, which suited the group’s overall slippery feel.
But Mick’s instrument definitely went on an overall downward trajectory.
charlies.Posted by on 01/05 at 04:37 PM
We could hear it as a chirpy little dirge if we like.
I’m trying to come up with something in the vein of “Rock Around the Doomsday Clock,” but my brain is tired. Angry and tired. As I whiningly alluded to in a recent comment thread, this is one of the few weblogs where I feel I actually have a home, and don’t get completely snowed by The Regulars. So you can imagine my displeasure to learn of this blog’s imminent demise. What evolutionary purpose could starting a successful blog, only to abandon it, serve?
And so far I’ve only gotten Centrally Certified Content Publisher to directly address me as “Buck Naked.” You cannot pull the plug now that I finally have a new schtick. And it’s not like I can get away with mathematical jokes and puns at Cosmic Variance. Speaking of which:
if a blog stops when no-one is around to see, it didn’t!
So, an observer is necessary for the annihilation operator to be applied to the blog wavefunction? If this process isn’t actually observer-dependent, I don’t know if I’ll be able to Cope...nhagen.
I’m undermining my own appeal, amn’t I?Posted by on 01/05 at 04:44 PM
*sigh* First Susie, then Tom Tomorrow, now you. I’m very happy for y’all that you’re moving to bigger and better, but I’ll miss the heck out of everyone’s writing.Posted by Elayne Riggs on 01/05 at 04:46 PM
Before i read all the comments;
first question: How do you make Jim Keltner an anagram of Ringo Starr? I never have been able to finger that out.
second question: Given your relatively later arrival to the Stones repetoire, and the mention of three songs from the previous era, is it safe to assume (dilation i suppose) that you have made the effort to fully delve into the early through mid-1960’s catalog?? Great stuff there, really. Flowers & Beggars Banquet are still two of my most favorite albums, and Aftermath is right up there as well.
Following up on the Richard’s as rhythm control, when Sam Bush was asked why he referred to himself as the Keith Richards of bluegrass, for the other than somewhat obvious reasons, he did mention that in his bands the beat goes through him (mandolins have that texture down).
Last, and most meaningless, when i was kicked out of high school for a while, my parents were furious (duh) because i might lose all my scholarships (the US Navy one was their biggest concern). But all i cared about was seeing the Stones at the LA Sports Arena later that school year. So i made them a bet that i would keep the scholarships (get the good grades and make requisite All American swim times yada yada) if they would pay for the Stones tix. Sitting in the fifth row a few months later, is still one of the highlights of my life; along with dozens and dozens of other live shows since. It was never about the spectacle but always about that sound.Posted by on 01/05 at 04:48 PM
I distinctly remember some teasers for future Theory Tuesdays…
You remember correctly, Phil! Look for the Stuart Hall installments in my forthcoming book, The Left at War.
And Buck Naked, you will always have a home here. I’m hoping to come on back sometime in 2008 for all the fun, fun, fun. But a year-long hiatus is too long to call a “hiatus.”Posted by on 01/05 at 04:49 PM
And Buck Naked, you will always have a home here.
I can now return to the Sleep of the Ages, content.
Wake me up
on Judgment Day for the GNFin 2008.
Oh, and something about drummers.Posted by on 01/05 at 05:18 PM
I’m hoping to come on back sometime in 2008 for all the fun, fun, fun
Aha! I knew it! Michael is going to run for president.Posted by on 01/05 at 05:28 PM
I’ve been listening to the Stones since “12 x 5” and frankly, they are one of the few bands where I really don’t give a crap how well and/or badly they play. There are just some times when nobody fits the bill like the Rolling Stones.Posted by on 01/05 at 05:30 PM
Oh, and as far as the “last week of blogging” is concerned, that would be a pity. Your piece on the second night of the Republican Convention was one of the funniest, and cleverest, things I have ever read. You have provided me (and I’m sure I speak for all the others here) with many hours of enjoyable and insightful reading. We’ll miss you.Posted by on 01/05 at 05:34 PM
(Can you tell I’m not a Stones fan?)
Btw, let me add that I didn’t mean to imply that they suck or that I’m totally disdainful of them—they just don’t do anything for me. I think my history with them is like yours, except that I haven’t had anyone play the hidden gems for me, so I’m still stuck on the Stones as the creators of “It’s Only Rock and Roll” and huge worthless stadium shows (good only for people like spyder in the 5th row). I hate stadium shows and I hold the Stones partly responsible for their very existence.
Now maybe I’ll go listen to some of those more worthy songs and learn to appreciate them.Posted by Dr. Virago on 01/05 at 05:36 PM
Brilliant, listenable, and In. The. Pocket.
In the Olden Days, I would have had to attend a particular university, and have been lucky enough to take your class, in order to have had access to such a compelling teacher. Even then, I never would have been exposed to as great a spectrum of your thought, curiosity, taste, and family. This college dropout (at least it was from UVA - me and Poe!) is very grateful for the turtle tubes and your creative and generous use of them.
Thadd.Posted by on 01/05 at 06:03 PM
Allegedly true story:
On being told that Ringo had won some best-drummer poll, John said “He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles.”Posted by on 01/05 at 06:04 PM
Or is it “I would never?”
See? I still need help! Don’t abandon me!Posted by on 01/05 at 06:06 PM
Amazing noone has Charlie’s jazz albums. They are a whole other Charlie Watts.
As one of the few people rich enough to take a big band on the road his “Live at Fullham Town Hall” is a real feast.
The “Tribute to Charlie Parker” with a string section is an unusual and lovely recording.
My favorite though is the wonderful “Warm and Tender” with Bernard Fowler on vocals. A stunning recording.Posted by PenGun on 01/05 at 06:06 PM
Ack. Re #34, maybe an occasional online seminar chez another blog? I can well understand that the daily demands of this thing are excessive and had just put it down to your being a freak of nature. Anyway the opportunities to read a theory text and talk about it were really welcome. Indeed all your work on the blog is much appreciated. It’s helped me think about how to make arguments across disciplinary lits, not to mention afforded an entertaining way to fritter away time amid commenters much stranger and smarter than myself.
Captcha: “nothing.” Bad oracle! Somebody cheer me up.Posted by on 01/05 at 06:16 PM
It has always seemed to me that if someone doesn’t like the Stones they really don’t “get” rock’n’roll. Certainly their output includes as much dreck as anyone’s, but they also come closer to defining the form than just about any other band. When they are at their best, they swing with a looseness that very few can approach. The Band, maybe. The Faces, sometimes. Bruce and E Street, right up to “Born to Run”. Crazy Horse.
The problem is context, which is Mick’s department. When the context is slapdash the music suffers, which is why “It’s Only Rock’n’Roll” or “Goat’s Head” or “Their Satanic Majesties Request” are so dreadful.
I would put it to you that the sequence of albums that started with “Beggars Banquet” and concluded with “Exile” is unsurpassed, and equaled only by the sequence Miles Davis released starting with “Round About Midnight” through “Kind of Blue” and Sinatra’s Nelson Riddle collaborations between 1954 and 58.Posted by Bill Altreuter on 01/05 at 06:33 PM
You’re leaving the blogosphere?! Say it ain’t so! You and Chris Clarke have the best blogs on the intertubes. He almost broke my heart, but returned, begging to be taken back. I don’t know if I’ll be strong enough to do that again.
Anyway, you gotta do what you gotta do. The Jamie stories and the interminable MLA meeting posts will be missed. Well, at least the Jamie stories.Posted by on 01/05 at 07:22 PM
Ah, well, a quick look through the rather thin and quixotic rock portion of my record collection (yes, records, black vinyl discs) revealed that I no longer have the one and only Stones album I owned. But I’ve still got all the Beatles albums—didn’t check for them because I know I’ve still got them. But hardly ever listen to them (or any other album or CD).
Thing is, I can remember reading articles about the Stones in which the writers wondered whatever are people going to think about these geezers playing rawk and roll, as though somehow one ought to grow beyond rawk and roll in the natural order of things. Why? Perhaps its time to rethink geezerhood. Maybe rock and roll is just the thing for geezers. Too.Posted by Bill Benzon on 01/05 at 07:36 PM
Well, banish me then. I have blogged that Rock and a Hard Place is a terrific song. Catch the silent guitar solo by toddler Justin Timberlake at 2:21-2:33.Posted by A. G. Rud on 01/05 at 07:46 PM
Your piece on the second night of the Republican Convention was one of the funniest, and cleverest, things I have ever read.
Hey, thanks! It lost the Koufax that year to a much worthier post from the diligent researchers at The Poor Man Institute, but I certainly enjoyed writing it. Then again, if I hadn’t drunk so much damn bourbon that evening (I had to get thru the Fox telecast somehow) I would have had the presence of mind to do something with Ahnuld’s manufactured memory of the day the Soviets invaded Austria. I mean, goddamn, that one could have been comedy gold. Something about how his family had to hightail it over the mountains in the dead of night while his father led a sing-along of “Edelweiss” to a full opera house and the befuddled Red Army looked on from the wings.
I’m still kicking myself, as you can tell.
Thadd, thanks so much. But I’ll still be around in dead-trees land for a while yet (I hope), and I may take Colin’s suggestion in # 44 after a decent interval of some kind. Before I run on the long-awaited Obama/Bérubé ‘08 ticket, of course. And Buffalo Gal, Chris and I actually talked about all this a couple of months ago, when we were both feeling thoroughly burned out. Now that he’s back I know the Internets are in good hands.Posted by Michael on 01/05 at 07:48 PM
Yeah, sure, Michael. We all remember last year when you told us you weren’t going to blog for a whole month because you were going to be at the National Humanities Center scholaring away and then you blogged pretty much every day you were there. You’ll never be able to stay away for a whole year! Things will happen that you’ll be dying to tell us about . . .
But if that turns out to be all wishful thinking on my part, at least leave the archives up so we can rummage around in them when we get homesick for you.Posted by on 01/05 at 08:01 PM
- Posted by Scott Eric Kaufman on 01/05 at 08:14 PM
Blog anonymously under a pseudonym. Shed the heavy weight of past failures and successes, of your readers’ expectations, of soulless habituation. It’s the Net, after all, a placeless place where everyone is in the throes of reinventing themselves.
We won’t tell anyone your real identity.
Promise.Posted by on 01/05 at 08:29 PM
I don’t want you to leave on a sour note. I will allow you to repent about “Money Man” being disappointing- that’s like saying “Live with Me” isn’t sleazy.
Sometimes the best way to enjoy music is to not be a musician.Posted by Pinko Punko on 01/05 at 08:57 PM
I don’t know anything about a money man, but “Monkey Man” starts off with a kickass riff and then . . . uh . . . repeats it. I think it also has some lyrics in which the Stones reflect on being the Stones.
And Dr. V., you complain (# 23) that I spend a day of my last week on Charlie Watts, just before I spend a day on Mark Bauerlein? Look, I’m just takin’ care of business here. Old business.
We all remember last year when you told us you weren’t going to blog for a whole month because you were going to be at the National Humanities Center scholaring away and then you blogged pretty much every day you were there.
Well, yeah! I had to find some way to watch the Sopranos, right (for which I thank you again), and I had to tell everyone that I hit Geoff Harpham’s car. And then came the Koufaxes! And Lee Siegel’s attack on Jon Stewart! But the best thing was that I had 16-17 waking hours to myself every day for the first time in twenty years. It was amazing. And perhaps the most amazing thing of my time alone was that when I woke up in the morning, everything was where I’d left it the previous night. Borges would never believe me, but it was true.Posted by Michael on 01/05 at 09:09 PM
Maybe rock and roll is just the thing for geezers. Too.
A friend of mine and I are always wondering how old peoples homes will look like in thirty years - you know, all us geezers (by then) headbanging away…
Michael, I want to say that your blog - which I discovered way too late - really changed my perceptions of a number of things: before, I’d just dismissed lit crit people as insane cultists who can’t write or think straight and cover it up by being obscurantist (I was influenced by the science wars there...), and function as tools of reaction by disregarding class and promoting identity politics.
But now I see that most of you are actually perfectly reasonable people using normal language and having very clever and worthwhile ideas! Stunning. I even asked my family to give me Derrida for Christmas… so thank you (and the commenters here) for opening my eyes.
Of course, I still think you are tools of reaction, but for different reasons .
captcha: “basis”. Figures.Posted by on 01/05 at 09:22 PM
(good only for people like spyder in the 5th row) That was 1965, but now i almost feel bad about some of the other great places i have been priviledged to see the RS. Not that bad though, given the intimacy of the Hollywood Palladium on a few occasions (yes it is good to be in that business).
Chris says we have to tell you how much we are going to miss you when you’re gone. So i leave with this:
And I guess that’s what it takes
When comparing our bellyaches
And it’s been a long time
Which agrees with this watch of mine
And I guess that I’ll miss you,
and I’m sorry if I dyssed you
And I guess that I miss you.
I really going to miss youPosted by on 01/05 at 09:29 PM
Borges is a hater.
“Monkey Man” starts with awesome tinkly piano, then the riff. And it sounds even better on scratchy vinyl. Pure sleaze!
I have to admit that, and I know this will cause me the be banned FOREVER, “Emotional Rescue” (song) is secretly awesome. Q: how much sleazier can the Stones be than in “Emotional Rescue?” A: None more. None more sleazy.Posted by Pinko Punko on 01/05 at 09:43 PM
Now that he’s back I know the Internets are in good hands.
I believe that’s something akin to a category error, Michael. For one thing, I think my blog tubes are only rated for about a tenth the traffic of yours. And I never managed to get that Dangeral certification. How can you leave the Internets to someone who can only manage “Risktious”?
Maybe if I’d made it to “Precarian” last year like I wanted to. I dunno.Posted by Chris Clarke on 01/05 at 09:51 PM
It’s such a fine line between sleazy and creepy.
Or between Dangeral and Risktious.Posted by Michael on 01/05 at 10:06 PM
Chris, to make Dangeral, you just have to be blogged-in to the intertubes at all times. It is kind of like World of Warcraft. You obtain the most Dangeral level by defeating various creatures. Some might ironically declare it “sad” or “pathetic” but I don’t want to go any further because Ann Althouse implied there were a shortage of mirrors in the world, and that’s the last think into which I would want to gaze.Posted by Pinko Punko on 01/05 at 10:19 PM
It’s the delight of the fine writing, no matter the subject. Thanks to you, sir! As to Charlie Watt, our trajectories (yours and mine) must have , been tangent as I seem to have left the rock and roll just as you arrived. I mean, having raised up a number of young humans, I have in a way kept up, though I missed the clash entirely, and when Terry Gross interviewed some one of them I thought well, she interviews any sort of minor celebrity, not having ever heard of the clash, which is only to say I could have missed something, but beyond that really the Stones are rock and roll, which in its essence is sloppy, otherwise it would be called chamber music. Again, Michael, from a stranger on the tubes thanks for the writing.
captcha surfacePosted by on 01/05 at 10:39 PM
Something about how his family had to hightail it over the mountains in the dead of night while his father led a sing-along of “Edelweiss” to a full opera house and the befuddled Red Army looked on from the wings.
Actually, I think it was by helicopters from the roof of some building. That’s what was going on in the background of that RedState graphic yesterday, now I get it.
They were flying mother nature’s future stud to a new home in the sun.
... or was that all in a dream?
Speaking of dreaming. Was I? Or did I in fact catch some corrective troll feeding remorse over on the other thread early this AM?
But enough of this theoretical speculation. Can I raise a practical question at this point? Are you gonna blog “Stonehenge” this year?Posted by on 01/05 at 10:41 PM
A couple of early Stones memories:
My parents had the Sticky Fingers album, which featured on its cover a close up of a jeans-clad male crotch region. To say I was endlessly fascinated by this is an understatement. And even though I knew (after that first crushing upzip) there was no photo of male private parts under that real zipper, I could not stop myself from unzipping it on almost a daily basis. (Hey, I was only 7. Hope was still springing eternal).
I also remember being really tweaked by the lyrics about “Black girls” tasting good and dancing good on the song Brown Sugar, which were at the time just about the only words I could make out on that song.Posted by Oaktown Girl on 01/05 at 11:39 PM
Hmmm...don’t know what happened to that Sticky Fingers link. Let’s try again:Posted by Oaktown Girl on 01/05 at 11:46 PM
Oh darn, my speech got lost.
Well, just so I’m CLEAR (captcha), I’ll be sorry if Michael Berube is no longer posting on the innertubes. But I understand.
P.S. I first saw the Ramones at Toad’s Place in 1979. Changed my life, one way or another.
~Posted by ifthethunderdontgetya on 01/06 at 12:11 AM
I’d say you have no idea how much you’ll be missed, Michael, but I suspect you know darn well how much you’ll be missed.
I’m not sure how serious you are about this:
I’m hoping to come on back sometime in 2008 for all the fun, fun, fun. But a year-long hiatus is too long to call a “hiatus.”
...but for me, at least, knowing that you might be back in a year makes a difference.
I’ll save the maudlin list of things I’ll miss about this blog until everyone else is posting them next week, but, as an historian, can I make one plea: please don’t delete your archives!
The internets lost Billmon about a week ago, and he eighty-six’d everything from the Whisky Bar. This was, of course, a futile gesture: one of his fanboys had made an archive of the site just prior to his penultimate post, so a nearly complete archive is available as a torrent file. But frankly that’s an unnecessary pain in the butt.
Like Billmon, Michael, you’ve written some really great stuff over the years. Some of it is an important chronicle of your (and our) times, some of it is terrific cultural criticism, some of it is just plain funny. And much of it is more than any of that. You’ve also built a great community of readers, who tend to play nice and have interesting conversations (and in this you outlasted Billmon, who long ago eliminated comments out of frustration with his more unruly readership, though the Billmon comment site, Moon of Alabama lives on, even as there’s no more Whisky Bar for them to show us the way to).
One more thing: fwiw, a year-long hiatus is called a “sabbatical.” You’ve certainly earned one of those!Posted by on 01/06 at 01:18 AM
I don’t know, I think that “Metamorphosis” is a gem overlooked often.
By the way, <a hef="http://leftthought.blogspot.com/2007/01/in-interest-of-being-ecumenical-ill.html"> Here</a> is an article that may be of interest to Berube readers. In the interest of fair disclosure, and not wanting to misrepresent myself, it’s a fairly critical article.Posted by Summerisle on 01/06 at 01:39 AM
I’ve greatly enjoyed reading your blog for the past two years.Posted by Eric Brunner-Williams on 01/06 at 01:50 AM
... which interview completely explains the best part of “Sympathy for the Devil” in “Gimmie Shelter”, when Kieth keeps an irritated if quiet time through the near-riot imposed break, and, when the ruckus calms down, if only for the moment, brings the band back into the song.
Captcha: matter. As in, it doesn’t matter who’s keeping time, play the song.Posted by on 01/06 at 02:21 AM
I’d have to argue that the line between “sleazy” and “creepy” is not so fine. One has pretensions, however feeble, while the other has predations, however latent. Likewise, “dangeral” connotes action in the presence of an autonomous peril, while “risktious” suggests a peril of ones choosing.
I’m very sad to have come to this blog so late, but even lurking here these past few months has brought me many a bright moment. Use the time you’d have devoted here for better things—or come back. Thank you, in any case, thank you very much.Posted by on 01/06 at 02:50 AM
I will also miss your free ezine.
Charlie Watts, as from aboves post, “Charlie has to stop playing his hi-hat so he can play the backbeat.”
I always wondered about this, I think Charlie’s emphasing the snare, but watching him play with that hitch in his ride hand is somewhat unsettling to me.Posted by on 01/06 at 02:52 AM
An iPod, eh? Next you’ll be discovering PODCASTS! Since I discovered National Radio (Radio New Zealand) puts about 25 of their programmes up as podcasts I’ve been struggling to keep up. There is something almost unbearable luxurious about living in Japan but still being able to listen to my favourite interviewer. And if you like rough and sloppy music, listen to the first few minutes of this interview (mp3). Bet it makes you smile.
Kim Hill also interviewed Richard Dawkins a few weeks ago, and after that Richard Randerson, who is someone big in the Anglican church in NZ. They were fabulous interviews - the best discussions of religion and atheism I’ve heard - especially the ending of the second one when she got Randerson to admit that fundamentalists are ‘bonkers’ - but unfortunately they’ve slipped off the bottom of the list. (I still have them, though - anybody interested can email me and I’ll send them along.)
Podcasts eat up your time, though.
Why do you have to stop blogging? Why not a, say, once a week update, or something? THINK OF YOUR READERS, MAN!Posted by BadAunt on 01/06 at 03:03 AM
I hate good-byes so, if I have anything to say (we’ll see), I better say it now.
Michael, you are a superstar - as a writer, as a thinker, and especially as a human being. Thank you very much for sharing.
captcha “off” - “The OFFal Truth”Posted by on 01/06 at 03:21 AM
damn. I lurk infrequently, but I always liked knowing you were here.
captcha - designed. I know your sabbatical wasn’t designed to make the intertubes feel that much more empty but, well it does.Posted by on 01/06 at 04:23 AM
=v= Sorry to hear this is your final week of blogging. You’re one of the handful of reasons to pay any attention to the blogosphere. I totally understand wanting to devote your energies elsewhere, but sheer selfishness makes me want you to keep wasting your time with us.Posted by Jym Dyer on 01/06 at 05:28 AM
Ringo is so musical.
OK, he has tempo problems sometimes.
But listen to those super-tasty fills on “A Day in the Life.” It’s as if the song is a duet for voice & drum solo, with guitar, bass & piano accompaniment. And those drum fills are HUGELY influential. The virtual invention of post-dance lyrical rock drumming.
Or the subtle use of cymbals on “Come Together.” Really, one of the most melodic of rock drummers.
Hamburg tapes are SOOOO garage. And Ringo rules and rocks.Posted by john on 01/06 at 06:34 AM
The internets lost Billmon about a week ago, and he eighty-six’d everything from the Whisky Bar. This was, of course, a futile gesture: one of his fanboys had made an archive of the site just prior to his penultimate post, so a nearly complete archive is available as a torrent file. But frankly that’s an unnecessary pain in the butt.Posted by on 01/06 at 07:27 AM
Summerisle, thanks for stopping by. Two quick things about your post:
The Taliban, if you recall, were prepared to give Bin Laden up
You trust the Taliban more than I do, my friend. . .
I don’t trust that someone whose arguments haven’t been outlined in the article
. . . but you don’t trust former Counterpunch contributor Ken Silverstein, whose essay, referenced in my article, is available right here in the Intertubes? OK, your choice. But it’s a bad choice, imho.
it should be noted that Clinton gave official recognition to the Taliban government, one of the only heads of state to do it, because of the potential gas reserves in the Caspian Area/Central Asia. This is a matter of public record.
You might want to provide a source for this. Because my public record shows that the Clinton Administration never recognized the Taliban, having been dissuaded by groups such as NOW and the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Everyone else: I promise I will not 86 my blog. On the contrary, I’ll try to put things in categories so that the archives (should you ever want to check the archives) are in better shape.Posted by Michael on 01/06 at 08:24 AM
I promise I will not 86 my blog. On the contrary, I’ll try to put things in categories so that the archives (should you ever want to check the archives) are in better shape.
(And here‘s the correct link for Moon of Alabama. I mistyped it in #66.)Posted by on 01/06 at 08:54 AM
Dr. V, all of us just “don’t get” bands that have wide acclaim. For me it’s Pink Floyd.
Before writing off the Stones, listen to Exile a bunch of times. First song to listen to: Torn & Frayed. There’s this slide guitar (right? It’s slide, right? Or is it steel?) that does this chiming thing at 3:40, the most glorious five seconds of the rock ‘n’ roll era. Magical, wonderous, opens up new universes—like the transition from the third to fourth movements in Beethoven’s Fifth, where, even if you’re athiest or agnostic, you marvel at the glory of God.
It’s like that.Posted by on 01/06 at 09:29 AM
Ron Wood was one of the best rythm guitar players to come out of the UK. For some reason though, he sucked with the stones. Likewise, Kenny Jones sounded fantastic in the Faces and Small Faces, but was totally boring with the Who. We’ll never know why. But it should be noted that Ron Wood was no hack. Check out those first four Faces records.
Also, the Rolling Stones are the only band I can think of where every instrument on a song (and the vocals) can sound like crap and/or be played horribly, but somehow, taken altogether, the recording still sounds brilliant.
Michael, I have to say I can’t believe you were even able to write so many great blogs posts with all the other stuff you have going on (do you sleep?). You deserve a break.Posted by a-train on 01/06 at 10:54 AM
Following Mick Jagger’s Superbowl arm flab debacle, haven’t all previous pronouncements of Rolling Stones greatness been declared null & void?
What sort of bribe would keep you bahlogging? Once, twice a week? How about if I promise to not comment?
Seriously, sir, your wit, depth and unmatched ability to machete through cowflops demands you be offered a prominent national stage, and a paying gig at that. Meanwhile, you have my permission to kick back as needed. I’ll make it through—snif --somehow.Posted by David J Swift on 01/06 at 10:56 AM
"Also if you notice on video, Charlie has to stop playing his hi-hat so he can play the backbeat. Independence ? Not so much....”
That “stutter step” way of laying off the hi-hat while playing the backbeat on the snare is INTEGRAL to Charlie’s and the Stones’ sound and is a perfect example of the difference between drummers like Charlie, Ringo, and Zigaboo Modeliste (of the Meters) who were ground-breaking stylists if not technically brilliant players, and drummers like Steve Jordan and Dennis Chambers who are technically superior drummers (esp. in Chambers’ case) but not stylistically ground-breaking.
Steve Jordan, who’s played in Keith Richards’ solo band “The Expensive Winos,” intentionally copied Watts’ stutter-step backbeat on certain Winos songs because it creates that “Stonesy” feel that isolates the snare drum backbeat to create a microsecond pause in the time. (Like the deeeeeep-in-the-pocket feel of Al Jackson Jr, who happens to be Watts’ favorite drummer). This feel is essential to the Stones’ groove and while it may be due to some lack of technical prowess the Stones WOULD NOT sound the same if Charlie had played the beat “correctly.”
When Steve Jordan (or anyone else) imitates this beat, it sounds like, well, an imitation ‘cause nobody can play it like Charlie can. Jordan also does a Ringo “imitation” and in his days with the Letterman band he used to set up a large crash/ride cymbal off to his right that he referred to as his “Mersey Beat” cymbal and he’d wail away on it like Ringo in the Beatles’ Hamburg days. Jordan is one of my favorite drummer because he can play so many styles convincingly but in many ways he’s still imitating true ground-breaking drummers like Watts and Ringo. And he’d be the first to admit it.
And, while Dennis Chambers is one of the most technically proficient drummers on the scene today and he does have a serious pocket, check out the way he plays Zigaboo’s “Cissy Strut” on his instructional video “In the Pocket.” Lord knows he has the technical part down pat (and then some), but Chambers can’t cop the FEEL that Zig brings to the beat. No way, no how! Chambers sounds kind of like Andres Segovia playing “Louie Louie.” It just ain’t right!
This whole rant is a way of calling myself out for being a “technique over feel” drummer for way too many years. I remember back in high school when I thought Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio, Bill Bruford and anybody else with a gong, 15 tom-toms, and a set of wind chimes were the REAL drummers while guys like Watts and Ringo were overrated simpletons. Then, to my surprise, I tried to play along to the tunes on “Tatoo You” and discovered that, while I could cop about 95% of what Peart was doing, I could NOT cop Charlie Watts’ feel.
That’s why there’s such a proliferation of technical super-freaks in the drumming world today like Virgil Donati, Thomas Lang, and Marco Minneman (do drummers really need to play a one-handed roll?) because you CAN practice 15-hours a day for 10 years and become ridiculously adept at 17 1/2 against 2 1/4 polyrhythms or playing double-stroke rolls on your bass drums but it’s much, much more rare to hear a drummer today that’s playing with an imitiable feel and that has something original to say.
That’s the difference: you can teach technique but you can’t teach feel, much less originality. And Watts and Ringo are true originals.Posted by on 01/06 at 11:05 AM
Michael, ever since I discovered your blog around 2 years ago, I have been following it religiously. May it be known that your international audience, at least here in Germany will miss you painfully! Thanks for all the perspectives and insights you offered over the last years. My aunt, who has a 15 year old son with down syndrom loved your Jamie stories. Now all we’ll have (at least for the next year) will be the archives and of course your books on my shelf....Posted by Adrian on 01/06 at 11:56 AM
I too appreciate the drumming on “More Today Than Yesterday.”Posted by Bob In Pacifica on 01/06 at 12:13 PM
I wonder if the precarian percussionistas here might be able to place this drumming in its proper place on the Watts-Chambers spectrum.Posted by Chris Clarke on 01/06 at 12:42 PM
Todd R: that was a lot of fun to read. I’m suspicious, you know, of the divide between technical wizardry—‘total fretboard mastery’ as we said about some of the instruments I used to play—and ‘feel.’ I suspicious because I believe it. I’m reminded of seeing The Fall a few years back. Marc E. Smith had some new backup band, and they certainly knew the songs. But they looked as bored as hell, which I suppose is a nice complement to Smith’s vocal stylings: but it’s not exactly a good foundation for an exciting show.
Chris: oh man, thanks for linking to that.
And all, bon voyage to MB, and perhaps you might consider this: I just received a certain book in the mail, graced with a huge, looming head. If you, like me, are going to miss the blog, just read Rhetorical Occasions, pen in hand, and pretend you’re inhabiting a comments thread. The long endnote early on that treat Norman Levitt are particularly well-suited for this fun. If you like, you can even “ban” Levitt by taping those pages together.Posted by on 01/06 at 01:30 PM
i’ve been walking central park
lurking after dark
people think i’m crazy
i’ve been stumbling on my feet
shuffling through the street
asking people, whats the matter with you berube?
say it ain’t so sir?Posted by on 01/06 at 02:09 PM
jpj: The conception of culture I use in my professional work is pretty much that used by anthropologists. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes use the term in a narrower sense, as I did in #86 when talking about the difference between appreciating (narrow sense) culture and being qualified to comment professionally on culture (in whatever sense).
As for bio-phobia, I certainly do not think that all critics of sociobiology or evolutionary are biophobes. But there does seem to be a lot of bio-phobia around and that’s what bothers me.Posted by Bill Benzon on 01/06 at 02:19 PM
From #54 —
But the best thing was that I had 16-17 waking hours to myself every day for the first time in twenty years. It was amazing.
It is an eerie moment, a truly pleasant WTF. Certainly bigger than “I didn’t change a diaper yesterday”, a very big deal in its time. I rank it higher than “I didn’t think about not smoking a cigarette yesterday”, a sublime moment to any former smoker.
Odd, though, for me, a few years downstream from recapturing the larger part of my day: if I had to choose a Groundhog Day I’d pick any one of several thousand starting just after Diaper-free Day.
2nd captcha: simply.Posted by black dog barking on 01/06 at 02:19 PM
Whoops! Sorry about 89. Wrong thread.
That’s what happens when you have too many internet tubes open at once.Posted by Bill Benzon on 01/06 at 02:21 PM
Since we’re now in the end days and no one else has spoken up I’ll just have to put in the Ginger Baker nomination for the academy’s consideration (see URL below). Go for the Toad but stay for the White Room.Posted by Jim in STL on 01/06 at 03:16 PM
“Monkey Man” starts with awesome tinkly piano Nicky Hopkins will always be one of my true heroes of rock-n-roll.
Maybe rock and roll is just the thing for geezers. Too.
Geezers still Rock!!! Well how’z this for those that have trouble with all that thunder and lightning, while we all survive the post-Bérubé era before the multiple annual farewell tours? The House Democratic Leadership and the House Democratic Caucus for a Celebration Concert Honoring Speaker Nancy Pelosi
...but that did not stop most members of the California Congressional delegation—led by the masterful, non-stop dancing of Jane Harmon, to get the 2000 people rocking and on their feet dancing in the aisles. The highlight was watching Senator Barbara Boxer rock out to the music of the bandPosted by on 01/06 at 07:50 PM
Holden Lewis in #80: It’s Al Perkins on pedal steel guitar.Posted by J— on 01/06 at 08:59 PM
I wanna hear “Caravan” with a drum solo! And I want this blog to go on and on...it’s the treat I save for the end of the day. So, now what, eh, monsieur?
Captcha: programs—like, will you get with them?Posted by on 01/06 at 09:36 PM
I wanna hear “Caravan” with a drum solo!
Try this YouTube video. The band is tight and the young lady really wails on drums.Posted by Bill Benzon on 01/07 at 04:41 AM
Thanks for the information! It’s better than nothing. (For anyone interested, the link to the torrent is at the bottom of this thread. Who knew that Miguel de Icaza was a fan of Billmon?)
The file can also be found at:
andPosted by Adrian on 01/07 at 09:15 AM
Chris, that drumming is clearly on the Tommy Ramone spectrum! Not so much a spectrum, really, as a single, static point but one that I am in favor of (in fact, I think it is awesome).Posted by on 01/07 at 12:17 PM
Very sad to see you leave the ‘sphere’. Right after Billmon, the web is poorer for this.
Charlie is a jazz drummer who made a lot of $s with the stones. He does not have much to do with them otherwise. He shows up does the show and leaves.
His jazz bands are where you will find his real work.Posted by PenGun on 01/07 at 04:50 PM
I will miss your writing, too. Thanks so much for all you’ve shared, all the family fun, hug Jamie and let him know I’m way older his dad and don’t know half as much about the Beatles (or many animals)as he does.
I saw the Stones in 1972, I think, in Albuquerque. Johnson Gym, UNM. I couldn’t hear a thing for about 3 hours after the concert!
The wild wailing of the guitars in Honky Tonk Woman...that’s just IT for me. I love that sound.Posted by on 01/08 at 12:52 AM
I always thought that McCartney was the other drummer in the Beatles. Some tracks don’t sound like Ringo at all, and I heard him live on the radio in 62/3.
Kenny Jones has always been awful, he single-0handedly ruined the “Jerry Lee Lewis in London” record.
“Let it Loose” is is a nice fluid Watts performance (and everyone else). I have a soft spot for the UK release of Between The Buttons, but it’s Watts thumping all 4 beats all the way through.
The Watts/Keltner album from 2000 is interesting - he plays a bit on that.Posted by dave heasman on 01/09 at 12:50 PM
Charlie is a jazz drummer who made a lot of $s with the stones. He does not have much to do with them otherwise. He shows up does the show and leaves.Posted by ev hanimi on 01/30 at 03:16 PM
Great post! Epic drummer.. he made a lot of inspirational songsPosted by Todd on 11/27 at 05:00 PM
epic music man! soo awesome.Posted by on 11/27 at 11:13 PM
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I love this article. The random places that google will take you. You are a fun writer to read. I especially like your telling of the Elvin Jones story about the bass drum in the trunk instead of for it’s sound. Great!Posted by Free Jazz Lessons on 01/09 at 11:58 PM
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thank you for sharing manPosted by hafsel on 01/26 at 09:38 AM
Your taste of those type of instruments and songs are good, you impress myself.Posted by David on 02/04 at 10:59 AM
I love this post. You are such a fun writer to read it.Posted by on 02/06 at 04:02 AM
great posts,thanks.Posted by best drum software on 02/16 at 01:49 PM
Let’s face it – dogs bark. Some dogs bark for good reason and some do for apparently little or no reason and some do a little of both, stop dogs from barking. Of course there are also certain breeds that are more prone to barking than others. The dog problem is not always the barking but the need for dogs to be quiet at certain times or when asked.Posted by Barking Dog Co. on 02/18 at 10:52 PM