Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cocksucker Blues - Rolling Stones

I just watched Cocksucker Blues, a documentary from 1972 about a Rolling Stones tour of America, directed by Robert Frank. The film has never been officially released. When it was finished the Rolling Stones decided they didn't want it shown, so it's remained in the vaults for the past 39 years, viewable only in bootleg copies. I watched it in ten parts on YouTube.

I did enjoy it as a period piece from the 70s, but it wasn't the wildly exciting documentary I anticipated. It does have its moments, including quite a prolonged scene of a woman injecting heroin. There's a lot of traveling, a lot of hotel rooms, some music, brief glimpses of sex and nudity, but the main impression you get is of a lot of stoned people sitting around talking. There isn't much of the young Rolling Stones on stage, though the few live performances are good. I suppose the director was just trying to give an impression of what life on tour was like, in which he succeeds.

I wasn't a Rolling Stones fan while young, but in later life I started to like them a lot more. The tour in the documentary is to promote the album Exile on Main Street, and that's a really fine album, one of their greatest moments.

Cocksucker Blues is an odd choice of title. I suppose it was just chosen to be offensive. Cocksucker is not a common insult in Britain. I've never used it, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone use it for real. (I've probably heard people say it in imitation of an American film or TV show.) The Rolling Stones certainly wouldn't have used the word when they were growing up. In common with the rest of London, they would have insulted someone by calling them a facking cahnt.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Runaways / Epictetetus

When a person does something really stupid, and their foolishness is pointed out to them, they sometimes say - All right, I might have got it wrong but it's not like I killed anyone.

Faced with this, some time around 100 AD, the Stoic Philosopher Epictetus made this reply - You didn't kill anyone because there was no one there to be killed. But the only thing you could get wrong, you did get wrong.

I think that's a fair point, and a good reply.

I'm not surprised that people used the familiar excuse - Well it's not like I killed anyone - as long ago as the first century. In ancient literature people often have the just the same sort of problems and attitudes as people do today.

After musing about this for some days, and thinking I must have something really interesting to say about people always being the same, I realise I don't. Hum. Oh well, I find it interesting anyway. And I like Epictetus. I admire him too. He was a slave when he was young, and then went on to be one the founders of Stoic philosophy.


I watched The Runaways. I thought it was a good film. Kristen Stewart was excellent as Joan Jett. I liked her a lot. (I haven't seen any of the Twilight films however.) Dakota fanning was a good Cherie Currie too.

Kim Fowley, their manager, comes over as strange, and quite creepy, though I'm sure that the members of the band have said things about him far worse than portrayed in the film.

When the Runaways were around, in 1978 and 79, music journalists in Britain completely derided them. I don't think I ever saw a good word written about them. They were dismissed as just a bunch of young girls selling records by dressing in revealing corsets and so on. This was very unfair. They were a very good band. Their Live in Japan album is great, they could really play.

I looked at their page on Wikipedia and at the foot of the page, under the heading 'Use in media' it says 'In the 2008 novel Lonely Werewolf Girl, by Martin Millar, the main character's favorite band is The Runaways.' I was pleased about that. In the next book, Kalix will go and see the film.