It is my inclination to write about music that I enjoy. But “Doom and Gloom” by the Rolling Stones just irritates me. They are, for me, despite a few songs that are irreproachably good, one of the hardest of the “classic rockers” to enjoy across all their work. So many of their lyrics over the years pull from the dirty streets, the rough life, and seem so patently inauthentic to me. I’m not saying that one needs to live a rough life to be authentic (street cred not required), but most of the Stones songs come across as formulaic to me. And, no, I don’t count being a rich, strung out (or recovering) rock star as being particularly rough on its own terms.
It’s not just about the money – I don’t begrudge success to anyone. For example, I know Bruce Springsteen has plenty of money, but “Thunder Road” seems at least plausible in his world. Keith Richards has made a public spectacle of escaping the bonds of society (and taxes, and manners, and keeping his machete sheathed), they’ve all been filthy rich for decades, so hearing Jagger whinge on in song about “sitting in the dirt” etc., is hard to take seriously. And then, leaping to “take a chance, baby won’t you dance with me” is just pandering. It’s like they took a bunch of song lines that “sound like the Stones” and threw them all in a hat, pulling them out and stringing them together. More strut than substance for 50 years, but they were at least innovative when they first came out. I can still listen to The Who any day, major or lesser songs, without being irritated like this. There are a lot of bands, in fact, that have artistically withstood the test of time, but I feel sometimes the Stones have merely withstood the test of the market. This single has certainly done nothing to change my opinion.
All that said, just in case you came to my post as a Stones fan, I’ll also share this Keith Richards “Conversation Portrait” at the New York Public Library, illustrated and animated by the wonderful Flash Rosenberg. Does this help make up for the fact that I basically don’t like the Rolling Stones new single all that much?