As Bryan suggested in his last post, I feel honored that my proposal to write about Some Girls by The Rolling Stones has been accepted for the 33 1/3 series. My goal is to take Martin Scorsese’s suggestion that the Stones are “a New York band” seriously and to examine Some Girls as the New Yorkiest of their albums. I intend to listen to the album through the prism of New York in the 1970s, to see it as a document of the days in which New York was burning and going broke and seething to the sounds of both punk and disco.
We were asked to think about what the back cover copy might look like. Here’s a stab at mine:
It’s October 1977, and the Rolling Stones are in a Paris recording studio. They’re still routinely described as “the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band,” but they’re under siege. Keith Richards’s legal troubles after his arrest for heroin possession in Canada threaten the band’s future, and the consensus among rock aficionados is that the band will never again reach the heights of Exile on Main Street. Punk rockers like the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten are saying the Stones should have retired years ago.
But in Paris Mick Jagger is writing lyrics inspired by the year he has just spent in New York City, where he was hanging out with the punks at CBGB and with the glitterati at Studio 54. And new band member Ron Wood is helping Richards recapture the two-guitar groove that the band had been missing since the Brian Jones era. The result? Some Girls, the band’s response both to punk rock and to disco, an album that crackles with all the energy, decadence, and violence of New York in the 1970s. Weaving together the history of the band and the history of New York, Cyrus R. K. Patell traces the genesis and legacy of the album that Jagger would later call the band’s best since Let It Bleed.
I expect to be blogging my way through this project, both here and over at patell dot org. If any of you have any tidbits to share about either the Stones or New York in the 1970s, please don’t be shy!
The cover above, by the way, comes from one of my favorite Stones bootlegs, Welcome to New York, from a Madison Square Garden show during the 1972 tour. It predates Some Girls by about five years, but the cover captures the self-image that Jagger would project in “Shattered.” After the release of Some Girls, Jagger would proclaim: “Keith is the original punk rocker. You can’t out-punk Keith. It’s a useless gesture.”