Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" by Sam Cutler

You Can't Always Get What You Want You Can't Always Get What You Want by Sam Cutler


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I find fascinating with respect to books about the Rolling Stones, is that the subject matter (The Stones) are not that interesting as a subject matter. But all the side characters in their long narrative is on another plane itself - and they are fascinating. The drug dealers, the managers, the audience, groupies, the money people - all of them are interesting, but the Stones themselves never come off as interesting figures in their own story. Keith of course is the closest of being an interesting guy and the same goes for Brian Jones (of course).

Sam Culter was the Road Manager for the 1969 Stones tour and then after that went off into the weird world of the Grateful Dead. And his book on both band's life is great. Another classic rock n' roll memoir of life beyond the stage - and the Stones on stage is the one moment where the band comes to life - but alas, the real story is what happened before and after their shows.

And it is not just the rock n' roll sex thing, that becomes common place and kind of boring. Its the American gangster element that came to force during the 1969 tour, and how it sort of was left to attach to themselves to the Stones' inner world. Basically Mick Jagger looked the other way, while Cutler had to deal with shady (are they or aren't they) mafia figures as well as the Hells Angels culture.

The Stones' free concert is a mixture of horror, dread, and watching a slow fatal car wreck as it happens in front of your eyes. Cutler saw it going that way, but couldn't stop the machine or the engine heading towards disaster. And that is the highlight of the book, like the great film "Gimmie Shelter" you just want to cover your eyes to all the ugliness - and Cutler writes about the experience in a straight forward manner that is classic journalism.

Cutler then jumps into the Dead world, and that also captures a time and place like no other. Cutler was in love with the LSD vibe that was going around the band and its followers. Naive is not the exact world, more like a horror show being placed as a foundation to allow a mixture of thugs and hippie dreamers. A weird combination that is through out the book.

Mick Jagger comes off as passive/aggressive and Jerry Garcia is .....very simple. Just wants to focus on the music and nothing else but the music. Which means looking away from the culture that has produced various bad traits as well as some good highlights - the good trip here and there.

But also the practice of the Grateful Dead world (if not the band themselves) spiking various drinks with LSD in their party and beyond is kind of weird and scary. Sam Cutler's memoir of those years leaves a bad taste, but you can also see the need to go through all of that with the hope of tasting something great. But the 'great' has a limited time period before disaster strikes. Essential rock n' roll book.

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