Jim Dickinson Loves Rock and Roll
You said at certain point, “Jagger has used me as a club to the band with a couple of times so I don’t blame the keyboard player for being paranoid.” What exactly do you mean, ‘used you as a club’?
I was over in Europe with Cooder and the Stones were rehearsing to go on the road.
And this is roughly when?This… phew…. ‘83? ‘84? It was Chuck’s [Leavell] first tour with the Stones, I’ll put it that way. We went out, me, Keltner and the bodyguard went out to the old Hammer film studios to watch The Stones rehearse in the middle of the night. Jagger just made a big fuss over me and I couldn’t understand it because I mean, I know him, we’re semi-friends but it wasn’t that big a deal. And he just ran up and hugged me and made this big commotion. And then I saw Chuck sittin’ over in the corner. Oh ok, I get it. And it’s happened a couple of times since. It’s kind of funny.
It’s always the keyboard player though, huh?
Yeah, well it’s always Chuck! It was never anybody else. I don’t know, I shouldn’t have said what I said about him but the idea, the gall of counting off Charlie Watts is so offensive to me… he plays like he came out of a Shakey’s Pizza Parlor. It’s not just him, it’s the bass the player. I don’t care, I know he played with Miles, blah blah blah blah, but those fuckin’ bass parts are compositional and who ever is playing with the Stones oughta fucking play them. You know what I mean?
But wouldn’t somebody argue that if Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie are putting up with it, that it’s ok?
It’s not ok with me! [laughter] The fans in the stands man. You go see them now, it’s not The Stones, it sounds like a cover band.
Yeah, I saw them a couple of years ago out here in the New York area.
It took me a while to accept Ronnie though he did get to the point where he played the shit out of the set. He’s a great musician. I don’t know. I didn’t even meet The Stones, I never ever even met Brian [Jones]. It was his band. But [Bill] Wyman, I’m sorry, Wyman is absolutely key to what they do. There have been many keyboard players of course—[Ian Stuart] Stu was the one, Stew was their keyboardist—but Nicky Hopkins did the best playing of his career with the Stones.
You said “Pop music is like American democracy, it’s a sponge, and it’s sucked up every musical form that’s come along.”
God, man! Where have you read all this shit? [laughter] They did an article on me years ago about smoking spider webs, did you find that one? That’s one of the better ones! [laughter] Written by a guy who I met in a whorehouse, truly! [more laughter]
I didn’t see that one sadly. But anyway, some would say that pop music just plain sucks nowadays.
Well, I think it’s a barometer of culture. I mean it’s the culture that sucks, it’s not the music’s fault. And the door to the street has been closed. It’s the corporate structure that’s doing it. My god, go eat a salad at Denny’s. You know? It’s the same thing: chop it up, spit it out. In the ‘70s, which is now described as the “golden age” era, we called them “pukes.” That’s what they were—they’d just gobble up a bunch of culture and puke it out. And they’ve always been with us. And I know this is immoral to say, but I think Buddy Holly was the first rock-n-roll puke, not to speak ill of the dead. But he was just gobbling it up and puking it out. The danger of pop culture, as it touches things and absorbs them, it diffuses them. Now rap is, so far, has been able to withstand it. It’s the strongest thing that’s come along since initial rock-n-roll, certainly stronger than punk rock which folded to the corporate structure. But rap, amazingly enough, black culture is strong enough to produce something that is both still appealing to white youth and repulsive to their parents. That’s rock-n-roll but as you see now, if you turned on MTV, by being absorbed by the pop culture, it is of course diluted and diffused and eventually goes with away. It’s an utter miracle that there’s any wrong music left. It’s only because it’s strong. It’s like Elvis said, “Whatever replaces it is going to have to be pretty damn good.”
You said that Sam Phillips, when he was recording Elvis Presley, was recording an idea. That would seem to be the antithesis of a puker.
Yeah. Oh yeah. What Sam wanted, what he said over and over to all his artists, was he wanted something different, he wanted something unique. He was trying to make progress, as he saw progress. The thing that I think is really unique about what Sam did, was the people he did it with. Because, to a man, everybody he worked with, who he treated as artists, most of whom never even thought of themselves that way until afterwards, he encouraged these people. Not only did he encourage them, he encouraged them to be themselves. These are people that had never been told anything but sit down and shut-up. In their lives; people who had been put down, brushed aside and dismissed. And Sam Phillips taught them to be individuals which is what Memphis is about. Johnny Cash is, even more so than Elvis, the glowing example. And Sam said, I heard him say it twice so I think he probably meant it, Sam said that he thought his discovery of Howlin’ Wolf was more significant than Elvis. That’s heavy.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
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The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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