Saturday, May 17, 2003

I was asked, via email, what I think of the Beatles and Rolling Stones. That's pretty easy, actually.

The Beatles I respect, but don't actively enjoy. Never have. I know their music is ridiculously influentual, and that McCartney/Lennon was quite the songwriting duo - though honestly, I prefer their efforts apart to those together (Yoko Ono helped, not hurt, John musically, and McCartney's Wingspan comp is all the evidence you need regarding his post-Beatles life) - but I also find some of their material rather overrated. Their legend seems to precede any critical analysis of their work anymore. I firmly attest that Sgt. Pepper's is a good album, but by no means a masterpiece. My favorite song of theirs? "The Ballad of John and Yoko."

On the other hand, I'm definitely a fan of the Stones. Keith Richards is undoubtedly Chuck Berry's spiritual son/heir, Charlie Watts perhaps the finest "just keepin' the backbeat, ma'am" drummer ever, and in Mick Jagger they had/have the perfect strutting, king-of-showmanship frontman. If the blues had a baby and they called it rock'n'roll, then the Stones have been the nurse on call for nay on 35 years. My love for the Stones also keeps in line with the theory I recently mentioned of Quentin Tarantino's that everyone's either a Beatles or Elvis person. The Stones, like Elvis, give it up for black American music. I'm part of a minority of two which finds their finest moment to be - well, or which even defends - 1986's Dirty Work, one of the nastiest slabs of rock I've ever heard. The other guy in my corner, I'm pleased to say, is Robert Christgau.

Does that answer the question?

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