>>>    Scott W. Schwartz






A Democrat, Mick Jagger 1960 - 1969.
- Translated from the French by Griffin Smith.

People have told you that Mick Jagger started small. That he was born Michael Philip on 26th July 1943 in Dartford, Kent, under the sign of the Lion, ascending towards the Virgin and then pushed out of her by a mother named Eva. That at age nine he appeared on his father's television show. That one day at school he bit his tongue and during four days he could not speak, from which would come later his voice. That he loved strawberry ice cream. That already, for such a young boy. That the nights he slept and the days he lived. That the girls liked him, didn't like him, liked him a little. That already, for such a young boy. That he had an unhappy happy unremarkable childhood, cavorted in the weightlessness of the post-War, or was forced into the muck of the Cold War.

They lied to you.

People have also told you that Mick Jagger remains the singer of the Rolling Stones. That he gives concerts in the world's largest stadiums. That he and his acolytes appear before crowds awed by the groups' longevity and by their form yet intact. That they're still putting out albums, that they never did stop to, and they're not all bad. That Keith Richard and Mick Jagger have been on the outs reconciled been back on the outs been reconciled again and that a good bit of fucking rock n' roll still lights the spark. That forty years of performing haven't changed their passion. That Mick Jagger is still living.

Another lie.

The truth, is that Mick Jagger was born in 1960 and died in 1969. Born the summer of 60, and dead 9 December 69. It is precise, dated, documented, and verifiable in my records. You didn't know, me, I do. Of Mick Jagger I know everything. Read nothing, studied nothing, no archives pilfered, no land registries dusted off, no relics unearthed, I know everything. And foremost this: that he was born in 1960 and died in 1969. And I will say how.

How he lived, and how he died.

Mick was never a child. Mick never pushed teeth, never shot pool, never snuck cigarettes hidden under a bus stop. Never picked cotton, never rode horse. His fingernails neither crusted with coal nor polished with diamond-set files. Spoon in mouth neither of silver nor plastic, Mick comes from nowhere. He was born brand-new spring of the year 1960. Fresh as an amnesiac. Born at seventeen, that's right, these things happen, there are some troubling phenomenons, apes standing laughing at men, rainbows of seven colors curving across the sky, and the stripes of zebras, are they white or are they black? Mick was born at seventeen, in Dartford, yes, southeast suburb of London, they weren't lying there, but straightaway at seventeen they didn't say, I'm telling you.

Born at seventeen, dead at twenty-six. Yes, yes, a natural death. There was, quite true, something of an incident, an accident, a note of interest, a drama. However this 9th December 69 was but a logical conclusion, his killer but the docile executioner of the law which states a rock n' roll singer lasts no more than seven years, eight max. This is no romantic mythology or youthful mysticism - I'm speaking here of the most materialist artist of the century. Just a chemical equation. At the dawn of their era punk rockers very correctly said No Stones in 1977. Observational statement and not prescriptive as one had believed. The Sex Pistols and consorts weren't putting forward orders to wipe the Stones from the planet, they were observing that what had been the world's biggest group no longer existed. That's all. Mick had died eight years earlier, on a December night in California. Punks were merely attesting to this bit of news. And cautioning: do not buy their latest disc, they have not made it; do not go to see them in concert, it is not them.

It's dead.

The time is far and a hundred times past when in 1978 the significant Stones came into my view, long since past November 86 when I set about listening to them, one hundred times I could have gone and watched from a hundred meters their miniature colored figurines shaking on a stadium-fit cruiseliner of a stage. In hand first a camcorder and later a tiny digital, one hundred chances to rectify my late arrival, my having been born two years after Mick's death, having not known him as a living being. I never did. Have they tricked us? Old age, crumbling regime, fallen kings, sadness of an old clown. N'importe quoi, all of it. Peanuts for melancholic baboons. It's much worse than that. It's worse and not, at the same time. It is just that they are not the same band.

Not the same bodies.

Under a certain set of circumstances I could be drawn in by these sexagenarians who call themselves the Rolling Stones. Who light up Olympic stadiums with adulatory flashbulbs. But no. A rock n' roll group is outfitted with young individuals, that's the way it is, it is a definition. Because rockers are obliged to beauty? This is not an eliminating clause. Because rock n' roll music requires cells in full health? Yes but Mick would still adhere, swish and sporty as a mountain goat. Look at Johnny Hallyday, the idol that France deserves: never so fit, never such vocal rigor. No, the idea, is that rock n' roll is made only by bodies in-process, incomplete, unfinished, wriggling, nervous as puppies, up for anything, impatient to take in matter and to inhale life. Little snakes ready to swallow everything, believe anything. And on whom the planet feeds. Without this reciprocal completion between the world and a cluster of lacunary beings,

rock n' roll does not happen.

Mick was born in the non-place of a train station, and of no one at all. Or rather, born of another's birth at the same time and place, to which he in return gave birth, and inversely. On the platform in the space of a second, there were an additional two bodies, both of them seventeen, not a scream not a cry, no cord to cut, just extra; fully clothed already, tight pants, somber colors for the moment, soft start, no trumpet, two birds hatched of no egg set soundlessly on the platform. And so one named the other and inversely. Interbaptised the two of them, simultaneous ceremonies. The one said Keith and the other would be named Keith, the other said Mick and the one would be named Mick. Mick Jagger, Keith Richard. Begetters the both of them, crossed fathers, mutual creators and creatures. Later on Keith would say brothers born accidentally to different parents. Which just proves that we are only half-aware of our own miracles, because in this story there are no parents, even different ones.

No fathers but perhaps tiers. The pair only works with a third, so as to not get lost in the whites of one another's eyes, to not get caught up in the novelty of symbiosis. A third is needed to set the dialectic machine in motion, someone to get out and turn the crank on the car with which the two train station newborns will crack open the decade and in turn be cracked open themselves. On this spring day and how could it not be a spring day? on this day in 1960 and how could it not be 1960? on this day it was not just Mick and Keith at the southeast London suburb station of Dartford. Chuck (Berry), Muddy (Waters) and Little (Richard) were there too. Not in person but practically: on disc, vinyl, 78 rpms, that's how they were at the time. If Mick hadn't had these under his arm Keith wouldn't have known what to say after having named him, they would have stood staring at each other for hours and of this silence would have died, nothing would have been set in motion. Instead they talked and thus became friends. Keith said Are these things yours'? Mick said I don't know, they're here under my arm anyways. Keith said Let's find a pick-up so we can listen to them. Mick said Yes, lets. They found a pick-up, they listened, they said, We'll do the same, reproduce the blues and add rhythm. You'll play guitar I'll sing I'll play the guitar you'll sing.