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mick jagger interview esquire 1968
Posted by: ProfessorWolf ()
Date: June 18, 2021 01:01

sorry if this one is well known but i haven't read it before and thought it was really interesting appearently they lost the tape for parachute woman for a while


Re: mick jagger interview esquire 1968
Posted by: 24FPS ()
Date: June 18, 2021 07:16

They won't let you see the story. Can someone get around it and print the thing? Thank you.

Re: mick jagger interview esquire 1968
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: June 18, 2021 13:48

Meeting a 26-Year-Old Mick Jagger (And Reluctantly Learning to Like Him)
His act was a kind of pop flamenco: all fury, passion, authority, male arrogance. When Helen Lawrenson met up with him during the recording of the Stones' 1968 classic album, 'Beggars Banquet,' she eventually gave into it.

By Helen Lawrenson
Jun 3, 2021
This story originally appeared in the June 1969 issue of Esquire. A landmark profile of the Rolling Stones frontman, it contains an outdated and potentially offensive description of race. Read every Esquire story ever published at Esquire Classic.

“Mick Jagger is probably the greatest performer to have emerged from the pop world. Erotic, mercurial, destructive, narcissistic, violent.” —The Observer (London)

Even if you loathe Mick Jagger, as I first did, you cannot afford to ignore him, because he is a significant leader of the pop-culture scene, perhaps more acutely than anyone else the voice and symbol of the new generation. At his visceral, demonic best, he can make all other pop singers seem namby-pamby by comparison. The endless procession of young men singing in childlike, barely audible, hillbilly castrato style or the affectedly droning monotone which makes so many of them indistinguishable from each other; even The Beatles—especially Paul McCartney with his sweet, thin voice and wide-eyed innocent face, looking like a Twenties’ ingenue about to chirp boop-boop-a-doop—not one of them can match the menacing, flashing intensity that Jagger can bring to a song. His act is a kind of pop flamenco: all fury, passion, authority, male arrogance.

I first saw the Rolling Stones more than three years ago on a British television pop-music program. Mick was blasting forth his cri du ventre—“I can’t get no satisfaction”—strutting, prancing, jerking, his face distorted, his voice strident, a Corybant of boiling energy. I was appalled. More disturbing, though, was the realization that I was curiously angry, a reaction I couldn’t understand, because the major interests of my life do not include song hits in the Top Ten, as ephemeral as spume, or those who sing them. An examination of my initial response revealed that the feeling of shock (which, in my case, soon changed to fascination) was one I shared with older people everywhere. While they may dismiss other pop singers with boredom, annoyance, amusement or contempt, Jagger provokes anger. With that latent misoneism common to most, they instinctively resent and resist his incendiary challenge to their comfortable citadels of compromise, built on the familiar rites and rules which, whether they really believe in them or not, have come to represent the acceptable norm.

Because of this, the Stones are anathema to most people over the age of thirty. You don’t catch middle-aged matrons gurgling over them, the way they do over The Beatles (“The Beatles are just darling!” the late Dorothy Kilgallen twittered on a David Susskind television program), nor are they apotheosized by long and lucubrated exegeses in magazines like the Partisan Review. Nobody calls them adorable, sweet, funny and nice; Jackie Onassis doesn’t take her children to hear them; it would be unthinkable for the Queen to honor them with the M.B.E.; and British ambassadors do not entertain them. Instead, they were recently referred to in one London newspaper as “every mother’s nightmare,” and they are abhorred by millions of older adults who generally tend to regard them as suggestive of the sort of social pariah you might expect to meet in your friendly neighborhood opium den.

It was with some trepidation, therefore, that I approached my first interview with Mick. Although by this time I was a dedicated, not to say mesmerized, admirer of his talent, I was still intimidated by his reputation. After all, even The Village Voice had said that he “defies approach…. You want to touch Mick Jagger? You can’t even come close.” (The writer, Richard Goldstein, in the Stones’ own age group and an accepted habitué of the pop scene—which I certainly am not—also quoted a British journalist as saying that “talking to the Stones is like going to the dentist … [they] reduce reporters to stuttering, embarrassed heaps.”)

Our meeting was arranged for seven in the evening at the recording studio where the group was to spend most of the night working on the tracks for their new album, Beggars Banquet. I had been warned that Mick was never on time and that he was so unpredictable he might show up hours late or not at all. The photographer and a friend and I arrived early and waited in the empty control room. Right on the dot of seven, Mick came in. He was wearing a long yellow jacket, violet slacks, a lime-colored crepe shirt with a ruffled front, white socks and dark-brown and white saddle shoes. There was nothing scruffy about him. His long, light-brown hair looked shining and proper (a crew-cut Jagger is a dismaying thought) and his clothes were immaculate. He has the slim, tense, graceful body of a young bullfighter and, although some might consider him ugly—the too-full lips, the pale, cold eyes, light blue, in the pale, cold face—there is about him a quality of unmistakable machismo that instantly makes clear his iconic appeal to youthful females, who have been known to go crawling down the aisles in mass hysteria at his concerts, writhing like eels on the floor.

Charlie Watts, the drummer, arrived shortly after Mick. He is quiet and polite and seldom smiles. He was more conventionally dressed than Mick and explained that he had been to a christening where he was the godfather. He seemed worried that I might hold this against him, because later in the evening he came over to me and said, apologetically, “I didn’t want to go to the christening, you understand. It’s not the sort of thing I—well—it was my sister’s baby and I only went because it meant something to her.” “Was it a nice font?” Mick asked.

The others were obviously going to be late, so Mick suggested we go to a pub. He drove us there in a Jaguar which belongs to the group (he himself owns a dark-blue Aston Martin, a 1937 Cadillac convertible, and a second-hand Citroën). In the pub he was the one who took our orders, went to the bar, and brought back the drinks. He was pleasant in an offhand, self-assured way. I got the impression he wanted to avoid, or at least postpone, any questioning on my part. He talked mostly to the others, who were all his own age, and the conversation there and also back at the studio, after the rest of them had arrived, gave me an idea of why would-be interviewers collapse with frustration.

For the first hour I could hardly understand a word he said. This was not only because of the use of pop idiom. It was partly because he has a tendency to strangle his words (although when he wants to bother, he expresses himself lucidly), but mostly because, when he’s talking to his friends, he uses a verbal shorthand, a sort of empathic communication code. Once you get the hang of it, which can only be achieved by tuning into the thought pattern, you begin to catch at least some of the clues. For example, when I mentioned the name of a press agent, he said, “Yeah. I met him today.” There was a silence. Then he said, “He had a briefcase.” That was all, but from that one sentence I caught the picture. It wasn’t always that easy, and often I had to ask for a translation.

Although he knows exactly what he’s doing, he doesn’t like to appear serious or businesslike. He pretends he knows nothing about the group’s organizational setup, but an associate told me, “He runs the whole thing. He has lawyers and accountants, of course, but Mick makes the decisions. He’s like the chairman of the board. Others offer suggestions and he can take them or leave them. He doesn’t ever make a big production out of it, but he’s the brains and guts of the outfit and what he says goes, but without any phony go-getter executive stuff.”

He even brushes aside questions about their songs. “Keith does them. I just help him,” he said. Actually, he writes most of the words and he also knows just what he wants in the music, although the atmosphere that night in the recording studio was so wildly casual that the uninitiated outsider might have thought none of them had the faintest idea of what they were doing. They lolled around, joking, looking at magazines, acting as if they were killing time on a rainy Sunday, with nothing else to do. Any record-company executive, happening in, would have had a conniption fit on the spot. For one thing, they couldn’t find one of the tapes for the album. “Didn’t we have them in little tin cans?” Charlie asked. When a search of the room failed to locate it, one of the technical crew went to look in the basement.

“It’s a drag,” Mick said. “Like a kid looking for a marble: here’s that one I lost two years ago but where’s that blue one?” After a while, another man came in. “They’ve lost Parachute Woman,” Mick said, “and now we’ve lost the bloke who went to look for it.” The new man went out to look for the first. “Well, there’s another one lost,” Mick said. “Can anyone remember what were we doing the night we made Parachute Woman?” It was an hour and a half before they found it. “You know who found it?” Mick said. “The doorman found it.” I didn’t know whether he was kidding or not. He turned to me. “How long are you going to be here?” “Well, I’d like to talk to you,” I said. “All right. Let’s go in another room. This is sort of impossible.” It was, too, because by then the sound engineers were at the controls and blasts of music were jerked on and off with bone-shattering volume.

He led the way into a small, cluttered room, where we sat on a bench. I was wondering how I was going to overcome the language barrier but I needn’t have worried. He obviously understood my dilemma because as soon as we were alone he began talking clearly, a concession he makes to outsiders from the square world, except when he deliberately wants to confuse them.

I started by asking him about Performance, the movie he was going to do for Warner Brothers-Seven Arts. “I hate the film world,” he said. “The press agents and producers and business people. They’re so stupid. Press conferences really bug me. First of all, why you do it is because you’re a pop singer who’s going to act in a film. Right? Why should I give interviews? To help sell the film. Why do they want to sell the film? To make money. Make money for whom? For them, the business people. I suppose this is a valid reason, but it’s one I rather balk at. It’s not going to affect me because I’m not dying to become a film star. I question my motive: why should I be doing a film at all? I hope I’ll enjoy doing it and I hope it may use another part of my brain that’s been lying dormant, but maybe I’m just doing it to promote my own ego. It’s all hung up in every direction. That’s why music is such a groove. I’m happy with that.... No, I don’t want a personal commercial empire. The Beatles opened a shop. That’s the English dream. I don’t want to fulfill it. They didn’t either. Well, they want to but they don’t want to, if you know what I mean…. The Maharishi? Yeah, I went with them to Wales to hear him. He was pretty groovy, but I had no desire to go to India. It’s like—if you’re looking for something, you want to try to find it. You want to find something. It’s okay if you feel that way and you think it helps you. I don’t feel I need it.”

What about his trip to Brazil? “We were in Rio, living very grandly at the Copacabana, and then I was walking on the beach and I met some Brazilians who had a hut a thousand miles north of Rio they said we could have. It was near a village, but where we were, there were only two other huts with families. Thirteen children in all. We stayed a month. We had a great time, just lying on the beach and playing with the children and grooving. We played the drums a lot. You know, native drums—with the Brazilian Negroes. They have a lot of voodoo and a black saint and shrines. It’s a mixture of the Pope and African voodoo. Very weird. They have a sort of vision, a fantastic vision that has no relation to the sort of incredibly limited economic vision we know. You ask a politician what’s his vision and he talks about export-import or gives you a lot of baloney about helping the people, but he means material incentives, not humanitarian values, not helping people to be what they want to be, which is themselves as human beings. We poison the air and the water for commercial profit and we cut down the forests for newsprint. I don’t see capitalism, but Marxism doesn’t seem to make life much happier. In the Communist countries they’re greyer than grey. It’s all a mess. We gave a concert in Warsaw and there were police everywhere. So an American reporter asked what I thought and I said, ‘Yes, it’s awful. Just like in Los Angeles. They’re richer there, but just as many cops with guns.’ Most people don’t think about it like that. Most people think in clichés they’ve heard or read which are baloney. You realize they’re not even really honest about that, and then you get brought down. They subscribe to the contemptible ethic of valuing people according to their capacity for making money. They don’t even know they’re not happy, never enjoying the moment, always working and planning for the future. Save money to buy a house, work thirty years and get their gold watch. Never take time to explore themselves. Society is all wrong. All those vibrations of fear. The students are right: you have to change not only the setup and the rules but the whole concept. You have to learn how to live in the moment and enjoy it. I don’t mean living for kicks. I don’t want to sound mystical, but I believe in living for each eternal moment….”

I told him I had been nervous about meeting him, and he smiled. (He has a smile of great charm, which lights up his whole face.) “It has been suggested,” I said, “that the Stones deliberately created a public image that was mean and tough in order to be different from The Beatles, who were considered so lovable.” “God, I wish I were that shrewd!” he said. “The Beatles used to say very sarcastic, rude things to reporters, but no one ever wrote it because it didn’t fit the image. We were really quite horrible to everyone because they were so horrible to us. We didn’t dig any of it—all the interviews and crap—and we didn’t like talking to them anyway because they were such stupid jerks. They didn’t understand us, so we were very bad-tempered. We thought we knew everything—which in a way we did. People were frightened by us into paranoia. They were rude about our hair and the way we dressed. We’re clean, you know, we’re not dirty and our hair shouldn’t be important. It’s what kind of people we are that’s important. In Wales, for example, we were hungry and we started to go into a place to eat. It wasn’t the Ritz, it was just a pub, but the guy at the door didn’t even say, ‘You can’t come in because you haven’t got a jacket and a tie.’ He just took one look and said, ‘No.’ Through the door we could see an elderly guy at the bar so we asked him, ‘Do you agree with him?’ He got all red and said, ‘I bloody well do. You’ve got no bally right. I’m still able to give you one right on the nose.’ He was hysterical. If Keith had been with me, he’d have hit him, because he’s got more of a temper. I’m quieter. I don’t want a fuss. Of course, when we were younger, you know, nineteen, we used to flare up and yell back. It’s other people who cause the trouble. They’re the ones that are rude and insulting. We don’t stare at them and start making remarks about how fat they are and how horrible they look. But it makes them furious, just the way we look. People are so brainwashed by rules and authority they don’t know what really matters. They’re afraid of teachers, parents, bosses, fuzz, army officers. In Rome we met some Americans going to Vietnam. They didn’t want to go, but they were going. They were afraid of what their friends and other people would think if they didn’t—that they were cowards—or of going to jail, which I would think is better than getting shot. I can’t even talk about it: the whole Vietnam thing, from beginning to end, is so immoral and insane. It’s so indefensible what can you say about it? ‘My country, right or wrong’? That’s just about the silliest slogan ever invented. All you have to do is think of what the words mean and you see how moronic it is.”

The next time I saw Mick was in the Stones’ office, off New Bond Street. He had been to California on business for the Beggars Banquet album and already there was a row about the album sleeve which Mick helped design. He showed it to me. It depicted a Los Angeles gas-station toilet, the walls covered with graffiti and part of a toilet seat showing. The color was beautiful—predominantly yellow ochre—and I thought it was striking. It certainly was original. “They say we can’t use it because it’s obscene,” Mick said. I thought it must be something in the wall scribblings that was objectionable, so I began reading them. They seemed harmless: no four-letter words, just phrases like “Lyndon loves Mao,” “Strawberry Bob for President,” and references to songs in the album. “Decca have put out records with an atom bomb exploding on the cover,” Mick said. “I find that more offensive than a lavatory. I’m going to insist they use it.”

(As it turned out, he had to give in eventually. The album release was held up for two months while Mick stood his ground. But it could be expected to earn easily around $2,400,000 in the first few weeks, so the delay made everybody frantic except Mick. For a while he thought of releasing it through The Beatles’ company, but it was pointed out to him that under the existing distribution contracts the Stones could be sued by Decca. He finally agreed reluctantly to the substitution of the innocuous “invitation” cover.)

I told him I had heard he had difficulty with Immigration in America. “Not this time, but the trip before, after the drugs things, they questioned me for two hours. They didn’t do that in Poland. I bet they wouldn’t do it in Russia. Only in America. They couldn’t understand what a conditional discharge was, and I had a hard time explaining it.”

As everyone knows, Mick and Keith Richard were arrested in 1967 as the result of a police raid on Keith’s country house and were subsequently convicted under the Dangerous Drugs Act. A Sussex judge sentenced Keith to one year in prison for allowing his house to be used for smoking pot and Mick to three months for illegal possession of four pep pills, which he had bought legally in Italy. (His London doctor testified in court that Mick brought the pills to him and asked if it was all right to use them, but the judge ruled that oral permission could not be substituted for a written prescription.)

The absurdly savage sentences aroused immense controversy. Half the British population, according to an opinion poll, thought the sentences were not stiff enough, but The Times came out editorially against their severity and published interviews not unsympathetic to the two beleaguered Stones, especially Mick. In one of these The Times writer said: “There is no doubt that, in any poll for the best-hated men in Britain taken among people over forty, Mr. Jagger would be near the top. Equally a poll among young people would reflect the special respect and admiration in which they hold him.”

The two Stones appealed to the High Court, which set aside Keith’s conviction and quashed his sentence. Mick’s sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge, which is similar to being put on probation by an American court. The High Court’s decision was followed by what must surely have been one of the most remarkable press conferences in history, a television confrontation between Mick Jagger and what The Observer called “a token show of strength drawn from the ranks of the Establishment,” consisting of Lord Stow Hill (ex-Home Secretary and ex-Attorney General), the Bishop of Woolwich, Father Thomas Corbishley (a Jesuit priest), and William Rees-Mogg, editor of The Times.

Mick asked to be interviewed in the open air instead of a studio, so television executives persuaded Sir John Ruggles-Brise, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, to let them invade his estate with some thirty technicians, two vans and four large cameras. Mick, accompanied by Marianne Faithfull, was flown to the rendezvous in a helicopter, the pilot of which had his destination orders in a sealed envelope not to be opened until airborne. The drivers of cars taking the distinguished interviewers to the spot were also given sealed envelopes, and the American Air Force stopped all flights from its nearby base for three and a half hours, presumably to prevent shattering the hush deemed requisite for the occasion. The resulting program, according to English TV critic George Melly, “came over like a lost scene from Lewis Carroll.”

Talking about it with Mick, I mentioned that what seemed to impress viewers most was his patrician poise and calm, obviously disconcerting to his interlocutors. “I was filled with tranquilizers,” he said. “I just kept swallowing them, so by the time I got there I was really freaked out. I thought it was very nice, sitting there in the garden with the Bishop and Lord Whosis and the others. They were fantastically nervous, standing up for their generation.”

“About that generation gap, how do you get along with your own parents?” I asked. He gave me a brief oh-come-off-it look but then decided to humor me. “I’m not going to reiterate any hippie theories, but you just can’t bridge that gap. It’s impossible. I get along all right, I guess, but I couldn’t say we’re close. I don’t see much of them.” “Are they proud of your success?” I persisted. “Uh—I suppose so. I doubt if they ever listen to our music. They don’t like it; they don’t understand it. They don’t understand me, or what I’m all about. That’s not their fault, you know. It’s just not possible for their generation to understand. Not really. We’re not the way they used to be when they were young. We’re something new, and they get all shook up by it. Some of them may get flashes of understanding but most of them just get uptight.”

Michael Philip Jagger was born in July, 1944, in Dartford, a town in Kent, where his father was a physical-education instructor. (He doesn’t go in for sports himself, and says he hated rugger.) He knew Keith in Dartford Grammar School, although Keith left at fifteen to attend art school in London. Mick’s grades were good enough to get him a government grant to go to the London School of Economics. He arrived in London at the age of eighteen, in 1962, the year of The Beatles’ first hit record, Love Me Do. Keith and Mick already wore their hair long—they didn’t copy the style or anything else from The Beatles—and they were both crazy about rhythm-and-blues records (they took the group’s name of Rolling Stones from Muddy Waters’ song, Rolling Stone Blues). At the time the British teen-agers’ idol was Cliff Richards, a junior Pat Boone type. (On a recent TV program I heard him say he’d like to do “a song that really did say something Christian-wise.”) Mick and Keith couldn’t stand him.

They met Brian Jones in a Soho pub where they used to hang out, and the three of them would play blues records and practice together. They shared a crummy room in Chelsea: peeling wallpaper, one light bulb, cracked cups with no handles, a dark toilet up the stairs. “We were always broke and we practically lived on mashed potatoes.” Mick was going to school every day but in his free time he sent tapes and wrote letters to everyone: promoters, club managers, record-company people. Almost nobody bothered to answer. A few times Mick and Keith sat in, just for the experience, on small dates with a rhythm-and-blues guitarist, Alexis Korner, whose pianist was Charlie Watts.

The Stones as a group made their first public appearance in the Summer of 1962 at a small jazz club. They received no pay. Then came a few straggling dates for which they were paid little more than a dollar each. On the day after Christmas, still 1962, they earned about $20 (for the whole group) for an appearance at a small club. Nobody applauded and it was a total disaster. From their beginning, they were more basic, more earthy, than The Beatles, and they never compromised. They refused to play trad jazz; they scorned any gimmicks; they never wore makeup on stage; they performed in their street clothes; they didn’t flash big smiles or try to adopt a “show-biz” style. They were so different from what “entertainers” had always been like that no one knew what to make of them. True-blue jazz fans hated them; disc jockies jeered at them; a promoter who booked them said, “I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh at them or send for an animal trainer.” But less than a year later, in November, 1963, they were to replace The Beatles as the number-one group in Britain at that time.

What happened? What happened was their electrifying effect on young audiences. Word began to get around. They got a job at a club ten miles from London, across from a railway station. There were only fifty people at their first appearance. Three months later there were over four hundred every night and more waiting outside. George Harrison went to hear them and helped spread the word. They met Lennon and McCartney, who gave them the song, I Wanna Be Your Man. They began to make records and although their first was Number 50 in the Top Fifty, they won two popularity polls as the favorite British pop group. When they appeared on television, jazz musicians wrote indignant letters; horrified parents turned off their TV sets and forbade their offspring to buy the group’s records; one affronted citizen wrote to his newspaper, “I have today seen the most disgusting sight I can remember in all my years as a TV fan”; and Melody Magazine entitled an article, “Would You Let Your Sister Go Out With A Rolling Stone?” Mick’s comment was, “I don’t even care whether parents hate us or love us. Most of them don’t know what they’re talking about, anyway.” Heckled about their album, Aftermath—“Why Aftermath?” reporters demanded—he replied, “Why not? We had to put something on the cover. We couldn’t just leave it blank.” In Montreux for a TV festival, they were asked to leave their hotel because, so the manager was quoted as saying, they were “not like the rest of our guests.” Writer Pete Goodman, preparing a biography of the group, Our Own Story, called the headmaster of the school Mick and Keith attended in Dartford. “No comment. We don’t want the school connected with them,” the headmaster said, and hung up.

In the Summer of 1964 the Stones had their first American tour. (A British politician, making a speech, said, “Our relations with America are bound to deteriorate…. The Americans will assume that British youth have reached a new low in degradation.”) When they played to middle-aged audiences they were a flop. People yelled at them, “Get your hair cut!”, and when they did one show with a performing horse also on the bill the horse got more applause than they did. Nobody liked them—except a whole generation of young people. In San Bernardino they played to five thousand teen-agers, and girls tried to pull Mick off the stage. (Physical action by his fans is not uncommon: in Zurich he was pulled off a twenty-foot platform and almost torn to pieces, while in Marseilles a chair thrown by an overly exuberant admirer hit him in the face, causing a wound that had to be stitched up in a hospital. The next day he did two shows in Lyons with a bandaged head.)

In 1965 they topped the U.S. hit parade for six weeks, and a tour of twenty-nine cities in twenty-seven days earned them around a million dollars, although fourteen hotels refused them reservations. (When they threatened suit, the hotels capitulated.) Their next to last album, Their Satanic Majesties, issued in America around Christmas, 1967, sold six hundred thousand copies in the first weeks. (Last summer it was the number-one hit in Japan and is still selling fantastically all over South America.) Of this album, Newsweek’s Jack Kroll wrote: “The revolutionary excellence of work like the Stones’ and The Beatles’ … has just about become the most amazing cultural fact of our time.” In one year, the Stones sold ten million single records and five million LP’s; and fans paid more than $4,800,000 to see them in concerts. Their total record sales, as of last summer, had been more than $72,000,000.

Mick’s attitude toward all this remains casual. “I never particularly wanted to be rich. Money makes people very peculiar.” It also makes them very comfortable. Mick now owns a $120,000 Chelsea town house overlooking the Thames, and he recently bought a two-centuries-old twenty-bedroom country house from Sir Henry Carden. He lives with Marianne Faithfull, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of an Austrian baroness. A former singer herself, Marianne made her London stage debut in 1967 at the Royal Court Theatre as Irina in Chekhov’s Three Sisters, receiving sympathetic notices from the critics, who were not impervious to her cool snow-maiden beauty. She also appeared at the Royal Court as Florence Nightingale in Edward Bond’s Early Morning, which portrayed an imaginary lesbian relationship between Miss Nightingale and Queen Victoria. Scotland Yard took a dim view of this and threatened prosecution for obscenity, so the play closed after one Sunday-night club performance. Last year (1968) Marianne starred in the film, Girl on a Motorcycle.

The announcement that Mick and Marianne were expecting a child (she later had a miscarriage) but have no plans for marriage caused the Archbishop of Canterbury to comment that this is “a terribly sad instance of the way in which our society has disintegrated,” to which Marianne replied, “We are both very glad about the baby, and neither of us really cares what people say.” Queried on a David Frost television program, Mick said, “The whole wedding thing is very pagan. It’s an initiation thing, and I don’t really need it. The signed piece of paper is the part that’s completely unimportant to me.... If two people are reasonably understanding and they love each other, they shouldn’t be worried about pieces of paper…. That’s what I’m trying to explain. Otherwise, I’d keep quiet—and maybe I should!”

As it happens, Marianne is still married to an ex-Cambridge student and former art dealer, John Dunbar, by whom she has a son, Nicholas, now three. Divorce proceedings have been started, although Mick maintains his opposition to marriage, slightly qualifying it by saying, “If the woman I were with believed in marriage and felt she needed that kind of security, I’d give it to her. The woman I’m with isn’t that kind.”

When Mick was filming Performance in London I went to watch him. It was his first acting role. (The Stones appeared as a group in Jean-Luc Godard’s One Plus One, but those scenes were shot during an actual recording for the Beggars Banquet album.) It was also the director’s first directing job, the co-director’s first venture in that line, the producer’s first try at producing, and the first film for the associateproducer, younger brother of the director. It was not unexpected, therefore, that the atmosphere was seething with tension during the early days of shooting. Although Mick had said it was okay for me to come any time, whenever I appeared the nervous press agents started making vague little mews of distress and whisking me from one room to another in an effort to keep me out of sight of the director, who was also the author of the script. When I caught a glimpse of Mick, I hardly knew him. His hair was dyed dark brown, he was heavily made up, and he was wearing skintight black tights and top. I thought he seemed embarrassed and he should have been. On a television screen his face has a harsh masculinity, but here, with that costume and all the lipstick and eye makeup, he looked as if he were playing some medieval court catamite. Actually, in the film he’s supposed to be a former pop singer who lives in seclusion, experimenting with electronic musical forms. His way-out sanctuary is invaded by a gangster on the run, played by James Fox, and the confrontation between the two alien personalities is the theme of the film.

The first scenes I was allowed to watch were not inspiring. Mick had been on the set every day at eight in the morning, an unprecedented hour for him to be up and around, as he usually goes to bed at four a.m. He looked tired and bored. Also, he’s used to running things himself, but now he was being told what to do at every moment: where to stand, how to hold his head, what tone of voice to use, what movements to make. You couldn’t expect instant Paul Scofield, of course, but the niggling supervision seemed to rob him of all his natural spontaneity. After all, he was playing a pop singer, not Winston Churchill, so it seemed to me that his idea of how the character would move and react should be just as valid as anyone else’s. The director was adamant. Mick was supposed to walk over and take a colored ball from a bowl. First he did it too slowly, then too fast, then too slowly to suit the director. His lines were: “Fourteen balls. Fourteen balls! Juggle, bubble, juggle bubbling in the scrotum of God.” No human being should be asked to utter such lines even once, but Mick was made to repeat them over and over again. After the sixteenth time I couldn’t stand it any longer. As I left, I could hear him still doggedly intoning, “Fourteen balls.” It was depressing.

Things were considerably improved when I went back in a couple of weeks. Mick was cheerful and seemed to have adapted philosophically to the vagaries of the film routines. He wore less makeup and looked more like himself. He was drinking wine with Anita Pallenberg, who is also in the movie. “It was boring till Anita came,” he said, “but now it’s a gas. I go on the set and say a few words and then go out and wait another hour.” “Do you think you’d ever want to do another film?” “I’m planning one in Morocco next spring. Keith and Brian and Marianne and Anita and Donyale Luna and John Philip Law—they’ll all be in it with me, I hope. We’ll do it ourselves and have it the way we want.”

We talked about his latest songs, especially Street Fighting Man—“The time is right for fighting in the street”—and he said he had taken part in a big anti-Vietnam rally and had been at the famous demonstration in front of the American Embassy last year. “I didn’t see your picture.” “I didn’t do it for the publicity,” he said dryly. I showed him a news clipping which said the United States Defense Department was investigating a report by a panel of scientists that tanks of nerve gas stored by the Army near Denver were a threat to people living in the area. The scientists, according to the paper, estimated that more than one hundred billion lethal doses of the gas were stored in the tanks and that three percent of this amount was enough to kill the population of the world. Mick shook his head and began to laugh. “That means they’ve got ninety-seven percent more than they need to kill everyone in the world. Man, it’s so sick, it’s so weird! They talk to us about responsibility. You know, like that judge who told me I have a responsibility to set an example. If I have a responsibility, it’s to illustrate my idea of what’s right and just and human. My idea doesn’t seem to be their idea.”

Before I ever met Mick, I told a friend of his that I was afraid I would find him selfish, frivolous and insulting. “He isn’t like that at all,” the friend said. “He’s a very decent, intelligent guy.” He was right. The more I saw of Mick, the more I came to respect him. It isn’t, really, a matter of what he says. You don’t get to understand him through talking. Most of it is in his music. He expresses what he thinks and feels through that. He doesn’t feel that it’s necessary to explain through conventional conversation. You get to understand his attitudes by being around him. He’s very honest, and he won’t fake a conformity to standards he thinks are hypocritical or stupid. The people who detest him are those for whom he crystallizes their uneasiness over today’s iconoclastic youth and the increasing erosion of orthodox mythology. What makes him so infuriatingly insufferable to them is that he seems to know he’s right—and they’re wrong. Whatever they think of him is, however, irrelevant both to him and to them. He is the present and the future. They are the past.

Re: mick jagger interview esquire 1968
Posted by: drewmaster ()
Date: June 21, 2021 00:38

Great piece, hadn't it read it before. Thanks for posting.


Re: mick jagger interview esquire 1968
Posted by: 24FPS ()
Date: June 21, 2021 06:32

Thank you, His Majesty.

Re: mick jagger interview esquire 1968
Posted by: Send It To me ()
Date: June 21, 2021 17:02

An anti-commerce Mick! Kinda miss that guy. We can't stay young, alas...

Re: mick jagger interview esquire 1968
Posted by: GasLightStreet ()
Date: June 22, 2021 00:51

1967 was the garden interview.

Re: mick jagger interview esquire 1968
Posted by: exilestones ()
Date: June 23, 2021 19:48

Thank you

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