Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer of the Stones

Erik Lilleby crawls out from the rock he's been hiding under to talk a little bit about his "Summer of the Stones."

“Did you ever wake up to find
A day that broke up your mind
Destroyed your notion of circular time
It's just that demon liieforgotju in its sway”

Though I've been listening to the Stones all summer and have written a few pages worth of notes on them from a lot of research, I haven't been sending most of it to Puddles for review and posting.  

Domino e-mailed me back in June and asked if I would just simply rant a paragraph about each song—like that's enough. It's been easier to let my thoughts carry themselves for pages, and really exhibit a true reflection of my love for The Rolling Stones. It took a lot of time and practice (i.e. making long soliloquies to large spiders in my backyard while drinking either beer in the morning or coffee at night), but the first rant is finally here. Enjoy!

The month of August begins the settling of the summer; it is the easy time when everyone is too accustomed to the heat and the true meat of the season. It is the time when we are all inoculated and fever-broke. And because of this essence of August, I thought it would be a good time to finally write that one paragraph about the Stones song “Sway.”

(Writer’s Note: I'll give you time to listen to one verse and chorus, then we can continue. I’ll give you about 50 seconds or so.)

“Sway” is from Sticky Fingers, the album basically right smack in the middle of the Stones' sweet-spot of late 60's and early 70's albums—a period that stretches from Beggars Banquet to Goats Head Soup or 1968 to 1973 just so we're clear. Anyone can hate of the Stones now (or even then for that matter), but if you focus solely on these works, as pieces of their time and not over-played hit singles (two per album), then they are gloriously overwhelming with a sublime tapestry of R&B; a rock and roll Eden of never-ending soul gardens, trees and plants and shrubs stretching as far as the eye can see. If you can picture yourself on a country road with fields and sky and sun being your only view and only company, driving a car too quickly with a traveling song keeping your mind tuned to a far off destination; and the song is the guide that keeps you going, makes you focus on one point ahead of you, unconsciously taking in all your surroundings but leaving your few real thoughts on that destination, that fruitful endeavor waiting wide-eyed at the end for you—on a beach alone with the sea picking up clouds and brushing them across the steady face, eyes pointed straight-out to wherever, the glee surmounting the doubt. You can drive for days with the right kind of music and the right kind of destination. The music and the road mix into the experience of moving, the feeling of sitting inside a great machine that's covering distance at a high rate when you're, in reality, sitting still at 70 miles per hour. The steady calm of long drives makes your passionate thoughts boil and sweat, pent up words you wish to say, and your foot slowly eases on the gas as you take a smooth turn going 50. All the thoughts you think while driving to a song, are better than the thoughts you have while you’re just sitting and listening to a song because your brain does something weird when you’re doing the driving. At that point, you’re driving from instinct and letting your thoughts wander, the wandering becomes more surreal because you’re not even really paying attention to where they’re going; the brain is distracted by the driving and the music and you end up coming to points of conclusion in your thoughts that are confusing and curious, but all the more affecting because your senses are high.  The drop of this song, “Sway,” when it pauses in the beginning but then dives right into heavy-fucking-brain-gushing guitar, that's the point where you've realized you’re distracted thoughts have gone too crazy and you pop back to the driving circumstances at hand, and really rock your head to the song that jarred you back to reality. And you are left tracking down that last, lost thought and piqued feeling, when you left the obsessive reflection of your mind. 

Every bit of spinning passion that chops-up my regular thoughts for a moment and leaves me idiotic comes from thoughts and feelings I get from, and have attached to, songs like “Sway,” and this year my entire summer experience has been lived with the Rolling Stones as the soundtrack.  I did this purposefully, knowing that if I saturated my car and computer with The Rolling Stones, they would affect (or infect) my life and my memories of this summer would be wrapped in a bluesy blanket of soulful nostalgia.  

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