Entertainment Tonight this week featured a spot on Mick Jagger’s tryst with MacKenzie Phillips, daughter of John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas. One night during the ’60s, when things were psychedelic and free love was in the air, and Jagger and the Mamas and Papas lived in the same apartment building, Mick and MacKenzie and John Phillips were making tuna fish salad sandwiches in Jagger’s apartment. Sly old Lucifer told Papa Phillips that they needed mayonnaise for the tuna salad and sent him upstairs to get it it. As soon as Phillips left, Jagger bolted the door, told MacKenzie, then 18, he had been waiting for this moment since she was 10(!), and took her to bed.
Most people would think Mick Jagger was a “wham, bam, thank-you ma’m type of lover,” said MacKenzie, but he “wasn’t at all.” He was “very sweet,” she said, bringing her tea, toast and fresh strawberries in the morning, and advising that she better call her dad who was probably worried about her (gasp, gasp, chortle, chortle).
I laughed when I heard that story (I laugh at everything Mick Jagger does). My husband said they’d have to scrape me off the ceiling if I heard Bill Clinton had sent someone’s dad to get mayonnaise and then bolted the door behind him so he could have his way with the guy’s daughter. I couldn’t deny that was true.
It’s just that everything Jagger does is cute. Everything Keith Richards does is cute too. The Stones have always been my Achilles Heel, my example, to use the currently voguish term, of Compartmentalization. If I met Jagger, I’d be reduced to a speechless, inarticulate, babbling melt of mush, worse than the most disgusting of groveling groupies. When I observe his antics, I feel the last smidgen of outrage dying in my soul. When I was a feminist/activist in the ’70s, my sisters, incredulous, would exclaim, “How can you like a rock star who is so sexist that he sings ‘Under My Thumb,’” a song that any real feminist would hate.
Like Camille Paglia, who was ejected from the women’s movement because of her adoration for the Stones, I came close to being kicked out myself. I was active in Women Against Sexist Violence in Pornography and Media, and even while criticizing the Stones in an article that I wrote for The Humanist, “Pornography, Rape and the Cult of Macho,” taking them to task for a billboard that read “I’m black-and-blue from the Rolling Stones and I love it,” I loved their music, their wit, their talent, their dancing, their freedom, their rebelliousness, their sense of irony, their sense of humor, their faces, their verve, their guitar and drum skills, their incredible talent, and the life force that makes stadiums shake!
“By the time the women’s movement broke forth in 1969, it was practically impossible for me to be reconciled with my ‘sisters,’” explains Camille Paglia in her book, Sex, Art, and American Culture. “And there were, like screaming fights. The big one was about the Rolling Stones. This was where I realized — this was 1969 — boy, I was bounced fast, right out of the movement. And I had this huge argument. Because I said you cannot apply a political agenda to art. When it comes to art, we have to make other distinctions. We had this huge fight about the song ‘Under My Thumb.’ I said it was a great song, not only a great song but I said it was a work of art. And these feminists of the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band went into a rage, surrounded me, practically spat in my face, literally my back was to the wall. They’re screaming in my face: ‘Art? Art? Nothing that demeans women can be art!’ There it is! There it is! Right from the start. The fascism of the contemporary women’s movement.”
Like Camille, I love “Under My Thumb” and consider it a work of art, authentic and ironic. It’s the authentic voice of the Honest Male (or maybe, more accurately, the authentic voice of the Honest Human). I loved it when the Stones opened with “Under My Thumb” in Richfield Coliseum near Cleveland in the ’70s. It was the first time that I saw, live, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.
Charlie Watts came out first and sat alone on the darkened stage, quietly drumming the opening notes. One-by-one, he was joined by the other Stones, until Mick Jagger came out, the strobe lights and searchlights circled the coliseum, and the song reached a crescendo. Since then, I’ve seen the Stones in Washington (where Jagger joked derisively about Bill Clinton, and were no-shows for the Stones’ personal White House invitation), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlantic City, and, last year, two nights back-to-back at Madison Square Garden. I’m going to see them again on Thursday night in Pittsburgh where, due to recent surgery, I tried to get a space in the handicapped section. No such luck. Handicapped is sold out! “They’re so damned old,” said my husband, “that they sold handicapped out first.” Well, never mind, forget the wheel chair, I’ll crawl to my $150 seat if that’s what it takes.
When I saw the Stones re-emerge at a Philadelphia concert after their long “retirement,” back in the days when Mick and Keith weren’t speaking, when Jagger was trying to hold to his promise not to be singing “Satisfaction” when he was 40, we had second-row seats that we’d bought on the streets of Philadelphia from a scalper, so close to the stage that when the show opened with 30 foot high blasts of fire, we could feel the heat. My husband jumped out of his skin, and a drunken bare-chested 20-something male behind me leaped in the air and landed on my head. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “Just don’t let it happen again,” I snapped. The guy, of course, had no idea that I didn’t care if I died at a Stones concert.
Once, in Pittsburgh, I was standing on a folding chair with my daughter-in-law on the floor of Three Rivers Stadium, swaying to “Tumbling Dice” with the crowd. I’m no lightweight, definitely not folding chair material, and we had no control over whether we would tumble like some over-sized dice ourselves, or whether the chairs would hold, but we kept on keeping on. Usually I’m claustrophobic in situations like that, but Rolling Stones music zooms me right over the top, transcending me right into Fearless. That was the last time I’ll ever take floor seats (unless, of course, everything else is sold out).
At a Stones concert, I usually wear something appropriately Stoneish, something like a black velvet jacket with a purple scarf with gold threads running through it. This year, I’ll be wearing a colostomy bag. I’ll feel old and decrepit, ’til I get to the concert. It’ll be the first time I ever give myself a shot in a ladies room stall, but I have medicine to take. At first, I was afraid to give myself a shot. No matter how often the visiting nurse reminded me that the insurance company wanted me to give them to myself, I couldn’t do it. Finally, I realized that I couldn’t go to the Stones concert unless I could do my own shots. In a flash, I learned to shoot up like a common street junkie. I just hope I don’t get arrested by an undercover narc who might think I’m shooting up something that Keith might have done in the ’70s.
Once at the concert, I’ll watch Mick and Keith cavort, and gray-haired Charlie smiling and drumming, and I’ll know that if Mick Jagger had a colostomy bag he’d still be doing “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” He will be singing and dancing when the Stones are even older and grayer, and as long as they’re around to perform, I’ll be there to watch them. This year, if some young stud behinds me lands on my lap, he might get more than he bargained for. When I get older and life gets scarier, I will play “Gimme Shelter,” my all-time Stones favorite, even more than I do now. In a recent interview, Keith said, “I’m a grandpa. You can do it better than me? Let’s see you come out and try.”
It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but we love it.
Sarah J. McCarthy, a Pittsburgh writer, is a frequent contributor to WorldNetDaily. She’s one year older than Mick Jagger.