Hi Everyone! Are you familiar with the book series “331/2?”
Well, it is a series written by all different authors, mainly different musicians, and each book is dedicated to an entire album. I recently learned of this series from my brother, who sent me 2 of the books: one is penned by Colin Meloy, lead singer of The Decemberists, and is all about The Replacements’ album Let it Be. I will start that soon, probably tonight. I just finished the other one, though, written by Bill Janovitz, lead singer and guitarist from the band Buffalo Tom. His book? Is all about The Stones’ “Exile on Main Street!”
Now, I first have to admit that, although I’ve always loved the album, I sometimes secretly (and a bit guiltily, being a “Stones Freak”) wondered why almost everyone, from the casual fan to the obsessed fanatic, seemed to consider it the absolute, hands down, greatest album by The Stones. Many of their albums, like Beggar’s Banquet, Metamorphosis, Some Girls, and Sticky Fingers have had many more “spins” by me than Exile. (Until now, hehe).
Amazingly, reading this book has truly made me listen to the album in a different way; I have more appreciation for some of the songs, not to mention a familiarity, an intimacy, even, that I never felt so strongly before reading this book. Janovitz is a good writer, yes, but understanding even more than I knew about the circumstances surrounding the recording of the album, the dynamics of the relationships between not only the band members (especially Mick and Keith) but also the extended families and musicians involved, and understanding more of the technicalities of every single instrument played, described in extreme detail for each song on the 4 sided masterpiece, left me at the end of the book feeling as if I had been there, right there with them all, in the crumbling mansion in France.
Now, I won’t bore you anymore with descriptions of my excitement and freshly opened ears, but let me say this: I have played “Exile” more times in the past week than I have in the past year. I’m currently OBSESSED with an album I’ve had forever, but before I just loved it!!
Now, this computer has not been cooperating. I wanted to just play the song, but it’s not worth coming to tears because of trying repeatedly to get the song from Windows Media player into my post. I succumbed and got this from youtube, but at least it’s not the video. Nothing wrong with videos, of course! But, for this, I wanted you to just close your eyes and listen. Close them if you want to, still!
This is originally by the one and only Robert Johnson. Mick picked this song himself, and also a Slim Harpo tune, but the rest of the songs are written by The Stones. They also covered Johnson’s “Love in Vain” for Let it Bleed, and Mick, Keith, and Mick Taylor especially embraced the great Blues artists from the generation before and alongside them, as opposed to just copying (and not giving much credit to the originals), like Led Zeppelin. I like a few LZ songs, but The Stones delightedly invited and worked together with their idols and later mentors.
I digressed. Please enjoy this bluesy, sauntering number that I think they cover very well.
Stop Breaking Down!