Re: Beatles versus Rolling Stones (the whole post)

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Posted by Fleabit Peanut Monkey on April 05, 1999 at 17:44:17:

In Reply to: Beatles versus Rolling Stones (the whole post) posted by Lord Voodoo on April 05, 1999 at 14:17:32:

Well considered opinions, but the subject matter is broad enough to support a vast array of differing viewpoints. And it all boils down to personal taste and, even more fickle & unreliable, public opinion. It interests me a great deal that the ability to admire the Beatles and the Stones simultaneously seems to be a trait which skips a generation. As a kid I had no problem basking in the glow of both of these bands, alongside Bob Dylan, in their heyday.

Consider: in 1965 I heard, for the first time, on AM radio, "Help!", "Satisfaction", and "Like A Rolling Stone", not to mention "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away", "The Last Time", and a lot of other great stuff which is still great today. What was "best?" Who stopped to consider? There was incredible new music being released every 15 minutes in those magic days.
1966: "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby", Aftermath, Revolver, Blonde on Blonde. Jesus. The world is spinning so fast that everyone has become a genius. The Beatles, The Stones, and Dylan will all keep getting more and more incredible until everyone explodes. When I grow up I will smoke pot, wear sideburns & paisley shirts, and be a genius too.

Well, it didn't work out that way. (I DID grow sideburns.) But it sure looked like that when I was growing up. Dylan actually got his foot in the door first, establishing himself as Important by '62. The Beatles achieved the biggest fame, but it was a hysterical fame. The pee on the theater seats has long since evaporated and we're left puzzled by what all the fuss was about. I quietly retain an allegiance to the Beatles, especially their output in '65-'66, but it is inextricably entangled in the mystic webs of nostalgia for childhood lost.
The Stones are a whole other ball of wax. They manage to simultaneously pluck these same heartstrings, while also summoning up the older and more debauched 70's, while retaining currency (after a fashion) AND pointing out the possibilities of what can be done with one's golden years. Their music may not be The Future, but their ages are - we will all be 57 someday, and I for one am glad to see that you can still kick some serious ass at that once inconceivably advanced age.
The timing of the death trauma in each band's career plays a part in the comparison, too. People like me (& Keno, I bet) hung on to a deep desire to believe the Beatles would reform and make everything alright again right up until Dec. 9 1980. With the death of John Lennon, the Beatles ceased to exist in any tense except the past, and made it possible for me to see that, as Lennon himself said, they were "just a band" after all. So Lord Voodoo's assertions that the Stones breaking up at any given juncture would have altered the public's perceptions of them has this flipside: our Artists and Entertainers are reflections of US, and our perceptions of them has much to do with who WE are at any given point. If _I_ had died in 1975 I would be remembered as a guy who thought the Beatles were the best band ever.( As it is now, it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility for a band's name to be carved on my tombstone, and it won't be the Beatles.)
So Lennon's death ended the myth of the Beatles, but Brian Jones' death had the opposite effect. It fixed one aspect of the Stones as forever young, sneering & snotty. Brian will always be beautiful. The Stones will always be that band in my mind. They will also always be the Stones of Cocksucker Blues, drugged-out outlaws come to rape & pillage. They will always be the Stones of Some Girls and Dirty Work, of Beggar's Banquet & Sticky Fingers. They are all of those things and more.
So, are we comparing these bands as: social phenomena? recording artists? Live acts? songwriters? chart-toppers? album-sales champs? teeny-bopper idols? Each category has a different answer as to who's best. In any way that's important to me, the Stones win.

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