Monday, June 8, 2015

many miles on the ground

"I bought you a brand new Mustang
'Bout nineteen sixty-five..."
> Wilson Pickett

------------------------- [excerpts, Life, by Keith Richards with James Fox] ------------------

Chapter One

In which I am pulled over by police officers in Arkansas during our 1975 US tour and a standoff ensues.

Why did we stop at the 4-Dice Restaurant in Fordyce, Arkansas, for lunch on Independence Day weekend?  On any day?  Despite everything I knew from ten years of driving through the Bible Belt.  Tiny town of Fordyce. 

Rolling Stones on the police menu across the United States. 

Every copper wanted to bust us by any means available, to get promoted and patriotically rid America of these little fairy Englishmen. ...

In previous days our great lawyer Bill Carter had single-handedly slipped us out of major confrontations devised and sprung by the police forces of Memphis and San Antonio. 

And now Fordyce, small town of 4,837 whose school emblem was some weird red bug, might be the one to take the prize. 

Carter had warned us not to drive through Arkansas at all, and certainly never to stray from the interstate. 

He pointed out that the state of Arkansas had recently tried to draw up legislation to outlaw rock and roll.  (Love to see the wording of the statute -- "Where there be loudly and insistently four beats to the bar...") 

And here we were driving back roads in a brand-new yellow Chevrolet Impala.  ...A conservative, redneck southern community not happy to welcome different-looking strangers.


We did many miles on the ground in the early tours.

Roadhouses were always an interesting gamble.  And you better get ready for it -- and be ready for it.  You try going to a truck stop in 1964 or '65 or '66 down south or in Texas.  It felt much more dangerous than anything in the city.

You'd walk in and there's the good ol' boys and slowly you realize that you're not going to have a very comfortable meal in there, with these truckers with crew cuts and tattoos.  You nervously peck away -- "Oh, I'll have that to go, please."  They'd call us girls because of the long hair....

But then all you had to do was cross the tracks and you'd get a real education....The white side of town was dead, but it was rockin' across the tracks.  Long as you knew cats, you was cool.  An incredible education.

Sometimes we'd do two or three shows a day.  They wouldn't be long shows; you'd be doing twenty minutes, half an hour three times a day, waiting for the rotation because these were mostly revue shows, black acts, amateurs, local white hits, whatever, and if you went down south, it was just endless.

Towns and states just went by.  It's called white-line fever.  If you're awake you stare at the white lines down the middle of the road....Then you walked into these brief bits of theater behind the road. 

These are minor roads in the Carolinas, Mississippi and stuff. ...You'd drive by these little juke joints and there's this incredible music pumping out, and steam coming out the window.

"Hey, let's pull over here."

"Could be dangerous."

"No, come on, listen to that...!"

And there'd be a band, a trio playing....and then you'd walk in and for a moment there's almost a chill, because you're the first white people they've seen in there, and they know that the energy's too great for a few white blokes to really make that much difference. 

...And they get very intrigued and we get really into being there.  But then we got to get back on the road.  Oh -- I could've stayed here for days....We all get in the car ... and the music drifts off in the background.

I think some of us had died and gone to heaven, because a year before we were plugging London clubs, and we're doing all right, but actually in the next year, we're somewhere we thought we'd never be.  We were in Mississippi.  We'd been playing this music, and it had all been very respectful, but then we were actually there.


Mustang Sally, think you better slow your mustang down

You been running all over the town now.
Owh!  I guess I'll have to put your flat feet on the ground.

All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride. ...


{"Mustang Sally" -- written and recorded by Mack Rice, 1965; recorded by Wilson Pickett, 1966}


No comments:

Post a Comment