Shine A Light. starring The Rolling Stones, directed by Martin Scorsese, Paramount, 2008
… he, manic film director he, hell, famous film director, Martin Scorsese, all Hollywood –awarded, all blank check name your next project, all well known for capturing the mean rumble-stumble-tumble streets of Little Italy corner boy life in front of Mama’s Pizza Parlor, for New Jack City taxi cab saviors, or devils, for be-bop blues Muddy-Howlin’ Wolf- Ike (Tina-less)Turner-Willie Dixon- The Blinds(Blake-Jefferson-Johnson-McTell-Lewis) tributes (kindred to Stone-blessed early day Chess Record Mecca trips) and for a scad of other worthy projects lay heaven-bent in his hotel suite, sweating, sweating like he had just landed his first directing job and his whole career depended on getting the essence of his generation’s music, second wave (first wave Elvis, Chuck, Roy, Jerry Lee and progeny) stone-crazy rock and roll. So he fretted the night before the big theater performance (always a tough venue for camera perspective shots anyway) away thinking about what god crazy impulse made him think he could capture such energy, such performance level, such potential for everything to go off the wheels and wind up like so many rock docks looking like some stoned (weed stoned not depths cousin cocaine stoned) suburban kid’s homemade video. Like some kid in the audience. Jesus.
And they, they the reigning emperors of the known rock universe fought him every inch of the way, cut the lights, brighten the darks, keep those goddam cameras out of our faces, off of our stage, and away from our big- wig event audience. Hey, maybe you should film it from the last row of the balcony and deal with chasing away those kids that snuck in the theater through the back door. Wise guys, he thought, we knew how to deal with these limey river rats back in that Little Italy corner boy night, and no questions asks. And to top it off they didn’t even give him the play list (or rather he, Mick he, okay, it’s his play list and depends on his moods), the potential play list, hell, maybe they were going to do a night of Muddy Waters or Beatles covers for all he knew. He needed, desperately needed, to know whether they were going to burn the stage down opening up with Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Gimme Shelter, or Tumblin’ Dice and then pick up the wreckage or slow and easy rider their way in with As Tears Go By, Far Away Eyes, or Back Street Girl and then burn the place down. Jesus, he thought to himself, this one will age me about ten years.
He, his satanic majesty, he, Mick, Mick Jagger, laugh, Queen (no, not the rock group) benighted, oops, be-knighted on that same pre-show night sat on his hotel suite sofa fretting, fretting about whether he had done enough voice exercises, like his coach, that damn bastard coach had insisted to keep him from sounding like Bob Dylan’s brother, fretting whether that new lame shirt would hold up, fretting whether his slightly arthritic fingers could guitar hold the notes on Shine A Light night, and fretting whether his new diet of soy milk and rice puffs were enough to keep his fighting weight slim body in one piece. Yah and then he fretted, fretted simple stuff like what do you call an ex-president of the United States and the bag of glad-handers he was bringing with him. Fretted whether doing a Muddy tribute with Buddy Guy on Champagne and Reefer would just be taken as an autobiographical note. And fretted too whether Keith might use something, anything, as an excuse to go all crazy-up before the show. Start Me Up alright. Ronny and Charley too, for that matter.
And then he thought maybe he should ask around and get a little something for the head, a little something to put that edge on when he was coming out all black and black satanic on Sympathy For The Devil. And then he thought back, back to the youthful jails, the endless court appearances, the close escapes, the missing days (damn weeks when he was in high dudgeon stoned, sister morphine stoned, or love girl stoned ) and thought better of it. Christ he was probably just going to squeeze out the two hours straight as it was. And on top of that the pressure from Marty (and his maze of a crowd) to do this, do that, put this camera here, put that light there (burning up his bum or some other part of him in the sweaty night) AND he wanted to know the play list. Christ he himself didn’t know it, that was part of keeping the act fresh, of keeping the boys, Keith, Ronny, Charley, those boys, on their toes (to speak nothing of those wacko trumpet players, sexy sax players and that damn bass player)
Showtime. All doubts gone, or put aside for the siege, eyes front he, Mick he, forget Marty he until the film premier, Rasputin-like, Rasputin on speed maybe, drawing the audience in with his first juke moves, feet moving faster than the speed of light, hips playing ring-a-rosy, bounce shirt showing a little skin around the waist (eye-candy for the girls, girls six to sixty, and AARP papa moans about how can he keep so fit and jealous ),every hand moving like some stoned hitchhiker out on the great blue-pink American search night, gesturing about twelve different ways. Ready, set, go. Jumpin’ Jack Flash for the opening, They, Mick, have decided to burn the place down, take no prisoners, and see who is still standing at the end. Mick is on fire, Keith, like some William S Burroughs’ Naked Lunch junkie, like some poor mother’s (mothers’) worst nightmare daughter coming home with (what will the neighbors say), doing some ten thousand year old blues riff, mixed with every sound he has heard since about 1956 solid (solid smoking that cigarette , bans Keith-exempted, okay). Yah, for about the nine hundredth time he and Mick are in synch, check Ronnie, and check steady drum beat Charley, cool as a cucumber Charley. And just for that one moment (okay two hours) for those who went through it the first time back in the day, and for those who were spoon-fed it on their mother’s lap, the audience, knew what it was like when men (hell, women too) played rock and roll for keeps.
Labels: the rolling stones