Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Now, how old do you feel?...

I don't know why I listen to "classic rock" radio. It's just an invitation to feel old, engraved in gold and served up on a silver platter.

They just finished playing (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Rolling Stones, of course. I can't say I've ever been a huge Stones fan, but whenever that song comes up, the volume gets cranked up. Good song. Rocks, even all these years later.

Yeah, all these years later. That's the key here. I did a little figuring, and now I feel like one of those fossils I've been reading about for the writing I'm doing now. Satisfaction was released in the US in June 1965. 47 years ago. I was just finishing up the third grade. Lyndon Johnson was President, for Pete's sake. Completely different world, really.

Of course, me being me, I see more in the song besides just a rocking good sound. If you've read this blog much, you know I tend to over-think things from time to time. Still, it has been my opinion for a long time that Mick Jagger wrote some insightful sociological commentary into this song, even if he didn't mean to.

No, really.

Consider the line, "...but he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me."

How does that not capture the essential tribalism human beings still hang on to, all these millennia since we became supposedly "civilized"? We get into arguments with people who don't support the same teams we do. We marginalize people who don't come from the same culture we do. I once knew a woman, a friend of my mother's, who thought that people from the town she grew up and lived in should only marry people from that same small town. "Marry a good Sanger boy," she told me one time. As if. That woman had done that, and ended up in a loveless, abusive marriage.

Of course, rock and roll is just as tribal as anything else. You've got your rock fans and your pop fans, who often look at each other like they're crazy. You've got people who have bumper stickers on their cars that say, "There's two kinds of music: Country and Western". There are jazz purists, and blues purists, and bluegrass purists, and on and on and on.

But, in that song, with its snide comments about the commercialism that was rampant when it was written and is even worse today, you have that line that can be taken either as a straightforward statement of how it is, or as a finger-pointing statement of how stupid it is to judge someone else's manhood by what brand of cigarette they smoke.

As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter which way Jagger meant it. What matters is that the observation was made and presented for our consideration.

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