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(Note: This tape was transcribed by Vicki Perry. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
Male: The following is a discussion of (unintelligible). Instead of the news this morning, you are responsible for this (unintelligible) for the test.
Female: The music of soothing passivity. If I could only have known that Mick [Jagger] would one day become a pop star of the first magnitude, I would’ve paid more attention to him on that occasion in Geneva. I was introduced to him by a journalist friend of mine from the music section of (unintelligible). Our interview was short. I just asked three questions. Whether he thought his art was real, whether it seemed to him that there were too many like him and that he had been luckier than others, and whether he thought that in two or three years’ time, he would be forgotten. The answer for the first two questions (unintelligible) yes and no. To the third question he replied in more detail.
He said it was far better to be forgotten than to be a civil servant awaiting the death of his boss with impatience to take his place. He added that he hated journalists. That was about ten years ago. Since then, interviewing Mick Jagger has become as easy as shaking hands with a panther. He still hates journalists, and his bodyguards keep a watchful eye over the peace and quiet of the superstar. In 1976, Mick Jagger and four of his pop music colleagues toured nine western European countries. They were accompanied by a service team 100 strong. It took 13 lorries to carry the group’s belongings, including Mick Jagger’s own wardrobe, estimated at 250,000 francs and 18 electric guitars belonging to Keith Richards. Needless to say, the maintenance cost of the magnificent five were more than justified. In London alone, over one and a half million requests were made for their concert. Mick has long since been a millionaire, and he does not conceal his satisfaction. He is now rich enough to indulge in every whim. Some years ago, he had an emerald put into one of his teeth. He later replaced it with a ruby and finally with a diamond. Now, by his own admission, everything is okay. The Rolling Stones are now a legend. Books are written about them and films are made, and yet their beginnings were quite ordinary.
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman – who at the time were under twenty, were sons of schoolteachers, a building worker, a driver, and an engineer – formed a group and began playing on Sundays in a London restaurant. Mick sang, Keith strummed his guitar, Bill tried his hand on drums. It was in those years that the Beatles started out on their career in Liverpool. But while the latter were well groomed and decently dressed, Mick Jagger and his friends shocked their audiences with their disheveled hair and dirty clothes. Scandalous publicity is also a form of publicity. The group’s motto was “the Stones are those who are hated by parents.” In other words, in the Rolling Stones, the music world had an upended version of the Beatles. Official Britain was profoundly shocked. One of London’s colleagues [colleges] expelled several of its students for their Rolling Stones hairstyle. Colleagues [Colleges] and universities elsewhere in Britain introduced regulations which said that Beatles haircut was decent, was “in” with society, while the Rolling Stones hairstyle was “out,” rejected by society. Things were made worse by the fact that the lyrics of Rolling Stones songs centered around drugs, alcohol and sex. In fact, one of the group’s members, guitarist Brian Jones, died of an LSD overdose.
By the mid ‘60s, the Rolling Stones songs began to sound the theme of rebellion and later of revolution. True, they did not specify just how either should be brought about, they just called for the destruction of the old world, and that was that.
“The Stones are with us,” I was told by one of the students involved in the student rioting of May 1968 in Paris. “They’re spitting in the ugly face of capital.” Thus, the Rolling Stones found themselves in the mainstream of a youth protest movement. Singing their songs, the students of the west rose in spontaneous rebellion against the establishment mentality. As a result, the charm and charisma of the Beatles could not compete with the aggressiveness of the angry children, aggressiveness of the noisy and shocking variety, but also fruitless and non-dangerous.
Mick Jagger, not once declared aggressiveness and violence to be stronger than politics, because politicians are incapable of changing anything in this world. The Rolling Stones identify inept and fruitless po– politicians, of whom there are indeed quite a few, with political figures and politics in general, and this way set hundreds of thousands of their fans against all political and social activity. The Rolling Stones’ followers identify with them, with their non-involvement in politics, and at the same time they identify with their contempt for factory work or office work and for work per se. And although most of the Stones’ fans can hardly afford to copy their idols and stop working, they do find satisfaction in their verbal ravings and rantings against bourgeoisie values. Stupefied by the rock rhythms, they pay no attention to the fact that their idol, Mick Jagger, while protesting against the consumer society, is flashing his diamond-studded tooth, that his shocking suits are made of [by] some of Europe’s most expensive tailors, and that the best hairdressers spend hours creating his disheveled coiffure. They– they don’t, but those who Mick Jagger is overthrowing certainly do. They have long stopped looking upon the Rolling Stones as “out.” They have been lavishing upon them the sort of publicity which even those of the top artists whom they have put into the “in” category rarely qualify for.
In the whims of western propaganda wizards, Mick Jagger and his brethren have become a peculiar myth, which attracts the imagination of young people like a magnet and which demoralizes their creative energies, reverting them into an abstract, enhanced safe protest. There is no denying that some of the Rolling Stones songs do have a definite social thrust. They do aim at the moral values of the square bourgeoisie society and call for emancipation of the individual from sexual taboos established by bourgeoisie law. Only this kind of protest does not threaten the pillars of the western world. The western world is not afraid of a physical assemblage as free individuals. What it does fear is the unification of individuals into a revolutionary force. The attitude of the western world to the (unintelligible) movement of young men, free from all kinds of taboos. The hippie movement is the best proof of this.
Realizing the harmless nature of this kind of emancipation, western ideologists began to encourage the movement for personal sexual freedom, permissiveness or a personal freedom in the field of protest art, and although (unintelligible name, sounds like “P. Novak”), the idealist of the New Left, claims that the youth’s counterculture is an implacable opponent of the traditional bourgeoisie culture, the latter, in fact, manipu– manipulates the former and swallows it up. And youth opposition itself thus becomes a marketable commodity on the market of bourgeoisie values.
Aren’t you Soviet journalists hooked on– hipped on finding an ideological meaning everywhere? It’s absurd. Do you really think that the Rolling Stones divert their fans and are themselves almost in politics? I think they could not care less for politics. They just do what they feel like doing. They play, they sing, they dance.
(unintelliglbe name, sounds like “Jaros Dumar”) was angry. I’ve never seen him so angry before. A student, a member of the progressive political organization, he hated capitalism and loved the Rolling Stones. We do not come to any agreement on the subject of the Rolling Stones, but during our argument I had to listen to his lecture about my vogue (unintelligible) illusions. Having had his say, Jaros calmed down a bit and concluded in a conciliatory tone, “Perhaps I’m wrong somewhere, but why don’t you go and see for yourself how young people react to the Stones? Seeing is believing. Go and see them in action.”
Easier said than done. It was next to impossible to get tickets for their concert. After a colossal effort, I managed to get one. Even at the entrance to the hall, which looked and sounded like a raging human sea, one could say with confidence that the live concert success was a– assured. Inside the hall itself, the atmosphere was full of gentle– general excitement, electrified. One felt a thunderstorm was in the offing. Then for a brief moment, everything was quiet. Suddenly, the silence is exploded by the thunderous applause that greeted the entry of the Stones. I recalled the stories about one of their live concerts during which the over-excited audience began to wreck chairs and everything else in the hall. The ensuing melee claimed the lives of several fans. Dozens were injured. But on this occasion – mercifully – the concert passed off without casualties.
I would like to sketch what I saw. Mick Jagger was twisting and writhing on stage like a cobra. They say they lose a few kilos in every concert. His suits, with their green, red, and violet scales, were shining in the spotlights, and all the while he kept up a non-stop torrent of obscenity, abused what he called the “serving public” accompanying the whole performance with indecent gestures and manipulating his doubtful accessories.
I had often witnessed how African tribesmen worked themselves up into a frenzy in the ritual dance to the sound of tom-toms. Compared to the Rolling Stone fans, they look like children. Two girls of about sixteen sitting next to me were screaming shrilly for all they were worth. I don’t know the natural color of their eyes, but at that moment they were quite white. I doubt if they saw anything except perhaps their idol, Mick Jagger. In the state they were in, they could hardly hear the lyrics nor the music. They must’ve felt like rabbits, mesmerized by the hypnotizing eyes of a boa constrictor. As for me sitting next to them, I felt ill at ease, like a teetotaler at a table with a bunch of alcoholics.
When the concert was over, I was still unconvinced and kept to my former opinion, although I must (unintelligible word) some of their numbers appeal to me, as did some of the songs by the Beatles and other pop groups. In fact some of these pop songs carried a message of dedicated struggle, songs like, “Power to the People,” “Angela,” and “The Working Class Hero” of John Lennon. The same Lennon was reported to have contributed a large sum of money to the strike fund of the Upper Clyde shipyards. And yet the personal aspirations and thoughts of the pop musicians change nothing in the general situation where bourgeoisie ideology and culture has swallowed up the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and other pop groups, and the phenomenon of pop music itself has become a powerful tool for confusing the younger generation. The Rolling Stones songs carry no meaningful message. They appeal to instincts, the same irrational instincts which are an easy target for the yellow press describing violence, sadism and all manners of sexual perversions. For pop music, just like the Black (unintelligible, sounds like “series”) novels, gradually accustoms its addicts to a mindless attitude to life. By exciting reflexes, it dulls the mind and ex– expands eventually, develop a definite pattern of thinking, pop thinking, pop mentality. The music creative– musical creativity of the Rolling Stones is combined– fined to inventing way-out sound combin– binations.
When Mick Jagger was once asked what message his music sent to the audience, he replied with characteristic heavy-handed humor, that whenever he wanted to send a message, he usually went to the nearest post office. Not surprisingly, his fans come away from his concert with their heads as empty and as ringing as Bill Wyman’s drums.
Social environment which creates the ultra modern human being includes art as one of its organic ingredients. Under the impact of art, the aesth– aesthetic senses of man are developed as the cen– centers in his brain which control his perception of the beautiful. At loud concerts given by the Rolling Stones, contorted faces and twisting bodies make one thing clear: that certain forms of modern art are quite capable of destroying the human in people and reviving long-forgotten animal instincts in men and women which may reduce consciousness to the level of reflexes, and whatever Giles Zimmer may have– say to the contrary, he– this does play into the hands of social propaganda. His theoreticians have been recently careful to draw a line of distinction between political slogans and practical activity. They’re not concerned about declarations and protests, however radical sounding, as long as these are not met by action. Jacques (unintelligible foreign name) has designed [described] this phenomenon as ortho-proxy, as distinct from ortho-doxy, where, according to (same name), actions correspond to convictions and spring from them. And he considers this phenomenon as a major characteristic of today’s western propaganda. According to (same name), which– what is important is not so much to change the individual’s convictions by intellectual means and convince him to accept a new doctrine, but rather through emotional influence to involve him in an active process. The important thing is to excite his reflexes rather than offer him a choice. Elements of this line of reasoning could be found in [Paul Joseph] Goebbels’ theoretical explorations. Goebbels identified two basic ingredients in propaganda. (Unknown German word), behavior and (Unknown German word), morals and up– ap– opted for the former without hesitation. In this propaganda mechanism, action – no longer a logical result of thinking, choice or decision – is a reflex. The individual so affected– affected may even have political convictions, but he acts contrary to them.
Not long ago, a sociological poll was conducted among France’s young people with the subject, “What do you think of the future and your own part in it?” Many young people replied that the future belonged to socialism. As for their personal participation in that future, some of the answers described plans for finding employment, of marriage, and of ache– achieving material security. What they did not mention was their personal participation in the struggle to establish the new social system. The ruling class in the west has no objection against this kind of abstract socialism which will be handed to the young on a silver platter, some day, some how. In this sense, the revolutionary Rolling Stones are a godsend for western propagandists. The Stones make a lot of harmless noise, a noise that does not rock the pillars of society and merely tickles the nerves. Their verbal attacks on the bourgeoisie system and their denunciation of politics do not rule out the fact that they themselves unwittingly help others to make a quite definite social policy and implement it.
The Rolling Stones spit in the ugly face of capitalism is a tiny speck of the fashionable rebellion against the high brow academic culture which they identify with the elite, exalted spheres of society. But along with the anti-democratic barrenness of this elitist culture, the pop rebellion destroys real culture. As a result, man’s counterculture, deprived of any ideas, is just as dead as the elitist culture they criticize, which leaves the masses separated from thinking and rational perception. The music of the Rolling Stones, despite its mad– its aggressiveness and screaming sound, encourages passive attitude. Just because this passivity is noisy, it does not become less passive. This is soothing passivity, if you like.
An interesting sidelight: the noisy advance publicity that had preceded the Rolling Stones li– the Rolling Stones live concerts in Paris and the concerts themselves, coincided with the decision of the French authorities to shut down the Paris opera house because it was losing money. This decision was made and reversed, following a storm of protest by the French artistic community. No doubt, this coincidence was accidental, but the trend is clearly defined and logical. According to official figures, between 1968 and 1975, an estimated 33% of professional actors and actresses lost their jobs.
I once interviewed a jobless actor who complained that the mass of the French theatergoers do not know the difference between real art and its substitute, that their cultural standards are dismally low. True, he qualified his complaint by saying that he had attended las– la– mas– luminate festival and was impressed by the genuine interest with which the young people listened to grand (unintelligible) by Berli– [Hector] Berlioz. To be sure, it is not a question of the public. It is perfectly possible to improve the standards of music– musical culture among young people by encouraging them to visit concert halls. But for this to be a realistic proposition, several things must be done. A large network of concert halls must be set up, the price of tickets cut, and wide publicity and promotion of the great works of music and musi– musicians must be organized. So far however, this is an empty dream. For France’s Ministry of Culture get a meager five-tenths percent of the state budget. It is surprising then that 78% of Frenchmen between the ages of 15 and 26 have never been to a single concert of classical music. Their introduction to serious music is limited to listening to records and tape recordings, and they’re produced entirely by private companies whose aim is to make a quick profit and keep on doing so. They find it far more profitable and easier to satisfy primitive musical tastes than to educate the public’s musical taste in the spirit of altruism which would give a low return on investment. And as a result, the French music market is swamped with American pop songs. To popularize and promote this music, vast amounts of money are spent. By contrast, piti– pitiful sums are allocated from the Ministry and [of] Culture’s meager budget to sport– support composers and performers who draw on the best in national and international classical tradition. In this instance, the pursuit of maximum profits by the monopolies fully fits in with their ideological interests: the desire to sell culture to the maximum number of people inevitably leads to a leveling out of cultural standards to a mediocre average to a form of cultural conform– conformi– conformism. But conformism is– in culture goes hand in hand with political conformism which is also inculcated at an early age.
Hit, Podium and others: I have before me the Paris magazines Hit, Podium and Salut Les (unknown French). Let’s scan their pages. Salut Les (unknown French)’s announces a super quiz with five free tours to the Philippines, California, and Senegal for the winners. There are attractive prizes for runner-ups. Trend– dy clothing, stereo systems, electric guitars, records, Polaroid sunglasses, et cetera. The questions, the magazine says, requires no special knowledge. Here is a sampling: “Pop star Sheila opens several shops selling ready-to-wear apparel. When was this?” “France (unintelligible) is well-known to the folk on the island where she always spends her holidays. Can you say in what village she resides?” “You all know the young, charming singer Leslie. But do you know the name of her pet dog and its breed?” To answer these questions, one does not have to be a Solomon. It’s enough to be a regular subscriber to Salut de– Les (unknown French) (unintelligible) or Podium, which organized similar quizzes. If you score the right answer, you can identify with your idol, not only vicariously but in the flesh as it were. For instance, Helene Granier of (stumbles over French name) won (unintelligible)’s fur coat. Edith, from (unintelligible), won a Rolls Royce, a carbon copy of the Rolling Stones star Mick Jagger’s car, or Daniel from (unintelligible) in– in Montaine, whose prize was a motorbike like Johnny Hallyday’s. (French name) is of the ordinary working class stock while Michel Delpech was once a farm boy. Hit devotes three full pages to a description of (French name), the village where Bellpage grew up. We see the idol with his father and grandfather (French name). Their wrinkled faces and horny hands are those of a true farmer. Thus, even if you are a young worker or farmer, don’t lose hope. Of course, only 4% of France’s student body– student body are from working class or farmers’ families, yet the magazine– the magazines give the impression that they can make up for those (unintelligible word) with a vengeance. Thus we celebrated guitarist and singer Mike Grant did, not so long ago. Podium tells us Mike was an ordinary garage mechanic, and today, we are treated to a series of photographs. In 1970, he was a simple boy. In 1971, he had his first big concert and first big hit. The year of 1972 brought his first television appearance. In 1973 he signed a con– contract with Polydor. In 1974 he already held the top symbol of success, the golden (unintelligible). Why necessarily Mike? Why not Gene or Jeanie? After all, neither Mike nor (unintelligible) have unique voices.
It certainly seems worthwhile to try one’s luck in the “Everybody Sings” radio contest. True, thousands take part and only a few make it to the top– not even one out of a thousand – but some do, even when still quite young, like Canadian René Simard for whom critics predicted an Elvis Presley career after his spectacular success at the Olympia Music Hall at the tender age of 12. A millionaire after uh– A millionaire today, he has uh, toured many countries. Is there really any difference between him and other boys and girls of his age? He does his homework, plays hockey and adores ice cream. He’s just lucky, that’s all. A lottery, of course, but why not take a chance? Of course you’ll have to be patient. Don’t get depressed if success doesn’t come overnight. Just bide your time and keep smiling. A case in point is another idol, Dave. Hit tells a touching story of this Dutch boy, who came to Paris with empty pockets, but with a guitar and “never-say-die” spirit. In a 1966 snapshot, we see Dave playing his guitar on Place de la (unknown name) with cap held out to caf– café patrons. In another photo taken in 1975, we see him at a table in that same café, in that same square, as unknown English boy strums his guitar in front of him. Recalling his own story, Dave presses a coin into the strolling musician’s hand. The magazine comments, “Dave’s Revenge – Now He Stretches a Hand the Other Way” and adds, “Who knows but that the future might give the English guitarist what the present has brought Dave.” The readers should not lose hope, but do and dare and believe in his lucky star.
Incidentally, more about stars. Not stars of stage and screen, but stars in the sky which can also help, it seems. The January issue of Podium provides a horoscope for all born under the sign of Capricorn, that is, between December 22nd and January 21st. We are confidently told that Capricorns are realists with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Capricorns are advised: you are persistent, patient and even a bit obstinate. You always g– go forward to your goal. You look far ahead and spare no effort to get what you want. Your main traits are perseverance and pluck. You get what you want, whatever the cost to the surprise of all, hoping for easy success. True, this year, uh, right up to autumn, Saturn will stand in your way. You must be patient. Even hindrances from Jupiter should not discourage you. You appreciate most of all the saying that, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” You need proof? Here it is. Youth idol Françoise Hardy is a Capricorn. The supposed (unintelligible) Podium or Hit is an Aquarius. It’s just as good. Mike Grant is also an Aquarius. Mick Jagger is a Virgo. Sheila a Leo. Alain Delon a Scorpion [Scorpio]. Johnny Hallyday a Gemini and Brigitte Bardot a Libra. In short, there’s a star for every sign.
But supposedly (unintelligible) need a voice (Unintelligible). That’s nothing to be unhappy about. You can i– identify in other ways. Steve (unknown last name) complains in a letter to Podium that he’s lonely. The magazine cautiously asks, “Does that mean you’re hot, Steve?” When the answer comes in the affirmative, it bluntly asks, “What sort of girls do you like?” Claude is not particular. It doesn’t matter if she’s blonde or brunette, so long as she’s– she’s charming and good. The magazine wonders whether Claude won’t be taken aback by all the letters he might get from girls after these answers are– answers are published. That doesn’t embar– embarrass Claude at all. On the contrary. “I’ll be very happy,” he writes, “and will try to answer every letter I get. Maybe in one I’ll find the girl of my dreams, and the girl, too, will find her Prince Charming.” Since Podium circulation run into three and a half million, Claude (unintelligible) chances seem to be pretty good. This cannot be said of the thousands of girls.
But that’s no cause for worry either. If your star doesn’t come to you, then go to your star as the groupie does. The (unknown French name) encyclopedia explains that a groupie is an astonishing type of girl whose main purpose in life is to be at every show and rehearsal of her favorite performer and to be with him everywhere. Groupies are always found backstage at the Olympia and at the hotels where performers stay. They hitchhike hundreds of miles to follow their idol. They assume their heroes– amuse their heroes when they are tired.
The encyclopedia furnishes a whole heap of information. Thus, we’re told that the guitar is the basic instrument in pop music and a symbol of today’s young people. That hashish is extracted from the leaves of Indian hemp and that doctors are still undecided about potential health dangers. That a Harley Davidson motorbike symbolizes Hell’s Angels and rockers, and so on and so forth. We even find some political concepts, true, few and far between. For instance, war. The encyclopedia defines war as a “fiendish human invention” which everyone condemns but in which everyone takes part. Despite the pacifist– pacifist movement and celebrated, “make love, not war” motto, there’s always war. Let’s hope that new generations will be more sensible and give up war.
There you are, a fiendish invention, we’ll be more sensible, we’ll give up wars. But not a word about the causes– causes of war. Which is qu– all quite logical and natural. After all, the aim of Salut Les (unintelligible) and similar publications is precisely to keep away from politics. Leave politics to the politicians. Just sing and make love. True, now and again politics– politics does intrude. (Unintelligible) writes in Salut Les– Les (unintelligible) that she was taking part in every contest, and always turns to the page giving the list of winners, but could not find it in the latest issue. She is told that she probably forgot the six-weeks strike of French postal and telegraph workers which prevented the magazine from getting quiz answers and listing the winners in time.
The magazine tries to help young people forget such things as politics, crises, inflation, unemployment and strikes. Suppose they go in for self improvement, say, strive to resemble their idols or stars. “You find Stone charming and want to look like her?” Podium puts the question. “Don’t worry, a few words of practical advice, and everything will be okay.” They follow drawings and photographs telling you how to do your hair, use eye shadow, lipstick and powder all in order to look like Stone. Girl readers spend hours in front of the mirror, powdering noses and putting on lipstick. And boys, too. Recently four hundred odd young people sent in their photographs to say they were the spitting image of John Halladay. In short, the magazine gradually develops into the young reader’s father figure and friend, telling him how to think and act. The main aim of advertising is not to popularize the commodity, but to condition mentality, desire and need. But how can this be done? By using superstar Michael (unintelligible) as a model, for instance, or telling readers to follow the example of Patrick (unintelligible). Hit invites young reader– readers to visit his country villa, scanning its pages and seeing Patrick with the things he loves. His fireplace with its crackling logs, his creamy white telephone, his oval couch, his TV, tape recorder and amplifiers. Yet another magazine tells us, as it describes French film star Alain Delon’s “villa de (unknown French name)” that he’s an anti-communist. This is the Paris Match, an illustrated magazine for adults, which along with certain other western news media attempts to scare the Babbits with the communist threat. It is the youth magazine that breeds– that breed that babbitry. It was not at all coincidental that most youth magazines such as Podium or Hit appeared after the tempestuous days in May 1968, in Paris, when the architects of western ideology realized it was too dangerous to low– allow young people to drift. No wonder the ideologists of the bourgeois seek to establish a sanitary zone between young people and politics to instill through the mass media definite tastes and needs, to implant consumer attitudes. The class meaning of this attempt is clear: in the realm of labor people– uh, people are split into property owners and wage earners, and the awareness of this fact inevitably generates conflict between them, whereas in the realm of consumption, class interests are often swamped beneath the overall consumer interest. Then it becomes fairly simple to convince a young man that when he wears the kind of suit or tie that multi-millionaires Rothschild or (unintelligible name) wear, he’s more or less like them, and that it is in his interest not to fight the Rothschilds and (same name), but try to catch up with them, as those simple people, Johnny Halladay, Sylvie (unintelligible), Michel Delpech and Mike Grant did. The views instilled into the minds of young people by the youth and children’s magazines often develop into a distinct philosophy as the boys and girls mature.
End of tape
Tape originally posted January 2012