Getting Older and Buying the Remastered Version of Exile on Main St.
I’m turning thirty in a few months. To some, this would mean I’m officially getting old, but as someone who has no fear of aging, I don’t think I’m nearing the whole “burn out/fade away” scenario that turns many music fans jaded and incurious. I buy into the Aaliyah (R.I.P.) school of thought that age is in fact, nothing but a number, and I also think that like 7 Seconds, I’m going to stay young until I die. While I’m not as rock n’ roll as some of my friends, I’m pretty sure that the fascination I have with music that can trace its roots back to the Mississippi Delta will never go away.
As one slowly (and in my case, gracefully) grows older, the world moves quickly by them. When I was born, the summer of love was only a decade behind, and the music writers who were around to witness it had either finished the metamorphosis from long-haired freaks to respected rock journalists, became “real” writers (I say this in quotation marks only because I’ve heard rock journalism referred to as “whore work” for writers who can’t get “real” writing jobs) or in the case of Lester Bangs, they overdosed on cough medicine and died.
Those who soldiered on got jobs at magazines like Rolling Stone, Spin, and Mojo, publications well-regarded as authority figures on all things rock and/or roll. Some were curious about new music like punk, hardcore, and new wave. Others stayed stuck in the decades of their youth and clung tight to the idea that rock n’ roll died when (insert dead rock n roller here) died. And while the 80′s and 90′s weren’t the most stellar decades for American music, critics managed to write the history books of rock n’ roll, creating mythologies from Bo Diddley to The Boss, impressing upon millions what exactly the greatest guitar licks were, who the best frontmen were, and of course, what the best records were.
When you ask me my favorite albums ever, it would depend on the day, my mood, or season. I’m a child of the ADHD generation, and I can’t firmly decide. I’ll usually say In the Aeroplane Over the Sea or White Light/White Heat. I go through bouts of playing “which Dylan album do I like most?” And of course, the worst handicap of a music nerd would have to be the utter necessity of categorizing everything. Can I really say I like Leonard Cohen and The Replacements equally? Since I think Gino Washington’s “Out of This World” is one of the best songs ever, can I include the single on my list? The Minor Threat discography really SHOULD be included due to the impossibility of actually collecting all those out of print seven inches, and if you ever catch me talking shit on Green Day, play Dookie, I’ll sing every song and tell you the personal story behind each one.
Then there are the records that are actually the GREATEST RECORDS EVER. Those records include, but aren’t limited to: anything by The Beatles (except Magical Mystery Tour), Pet Sounds, Forever Changes, London Calling, and of course, Exile on Main St. Do I love all of these albums? Are they the greatest of all time? Yes. Because somebody told me they are, and at this point when I listen to them, it’s like walking on holy ground. Do I believe in Jesus? No. But if I walk the streets of Jerusalem, and I’m told “you’re walking where Jesus walked”, I immediately think to myself, “that’s so great.”
That’s the powerful influence historians have over our minds, and as a connoisseur of music, I’ve come to regard listening to the titles previously mentioned as great pieces of art. I can’t listen to them with a critical ear anymore, as I feel like I’d have just as much luck making a statement like “the Mona Lisa is an ugly painting because…” or “William Blake was a hack because….” (obviously I don’t believe either of these things to be true), because everything that could be said about Pet Sounds and Rubber Soul has been said a million times before, and there is new music to talk about and new classics to be uncovered.
But there is something that can be said about the Rolling Stones album that will always come up in the “best ever” conversation: Exile on Main St. It’s as good as it gets for the band. It’s the opposite of a sob story; a bunch of tax evading rock stars down and out in France, hanging out with a bunch of their friends, doing god knows whatever millionaire rock stars do, and probably living a life that would make Rimbuad blush. Still, every song on the album feels so free from the idea of making a hit, and each note feels so loose and so unpretentious, that from start to finish, you realize this was the album The Stones were meant to make.
This week, Exile will once again see the reissue treatment. Normally this sort of thing means nothing to me, these great bands of my generation — Pavement, My Bloody Valentine, etc. — putting out remastered versions of classics that include another record full of demos, outtakes, and live tracks. I hardly bat an eye. When a classic album is remixed, like Iggy & The Stooges Raw Power was in 1997, I just wish people would leave well-enough alone. And when one of the Greatest Albums Of All Time goes from being a double album to a triple album, complete with 30 minutes of coked out studio banter, and demos that are sub-Basement Tapes quality, I simply say “meh.”
Exile on Main St., 2010 is a different animal. Aside from a fantastic job of making the best batch of songs by the band even better, the inclusion of a handful of songs shelved during the original recording of Exile, have been unearthed, re-recorded, and come out sounding like the best new thing The Stones have given us since, well, before I was even born.
Sitting here looking at my bank statements, I’m unsure if I’ll drop the cash needed to add a tangible copy of the new-old album to my collection. Instead, I’m pretty sure Exile, 2010 will be downloaded on the internet and put alongside my original version of the album, as a nice compliment to a record that I’ll probably play for my kids one day.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 2 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 3 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 4 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 5 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 6 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 7 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 8 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 9 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Strartup
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook