Monday, October 20, 2008

Exile on Main St. by Robert Greenfield (prologue)

Exile on Main Street: a season in hell with the Rolling Stones by Robert Greenfield (prologue)
Pages 1-4

  • An inauspicious start:

    In the short space of ten months... three of the greatest individual talents ever to grace a rock 'n' roll stage ended their lives with drugs before their twenty-eighth birthdays. That rock itself did not die seems even now like a miracle....
    The three of the greatest individual talents ever to grace a rock 'n' roll stage? Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison.

    Wait, what?

    Look, I don't want to shit over anybody's faves. But can we be honest here? Of those three, the only one who had a meaningful, lasting effect on rock and roll was Hendrix. That the author thinks that the death of Joplin and Morrison could have spelled the end of rock and roll music itself does not bode well for his historical perspective.

  • Greenfield sets the scene: it is 1970 and the world is reeling from the death of Janis Joplin, the generational divide, Kent State. "Something that had been very much alive was in fact now dying. To be replaced by what, no one seemed to know." Ominous. "As always, you could blame it on the Stones." What?

    Two years earlier, Brian Jones, who always liked to refer to himself as "the undisputed leader of the Rolling Stones," had become the first great rock star of his era to die — by drowning under mysterious circumstances in his own swimming pool.
    As sad as it may have been, I get the feeling the author is placing slightly more importance on the deaths of Jones and Janis Joplin (really? Joplin?) than is warranted.

    Also, Altamont was another sign the world was ending.

  • Okay, I get it now. The author wants to paint a picture of rock stars turning to drug use for escape or something. In addition to the weltanschauung-changing death of Janis Joplin, the members of Cream had all begun to use heroin in worrisome amounts.

    In a world no one under the age of thirty had made, where everything seemed so fucked up as to be far beyond repair, numbing yourself to the pain of just having to wake up every morning to begin yet another hopeless day seemed to make eminent sense.

Three pages of this is all I can stand for now. More tomorrow.