When I started living in such close quarters with all of these phenomenal musicians, I was surprised to find out that a lot of them were into the Stones. Many of the justifications they used for their adoration sounded uncomfortably similar to those I had for my own unconditional Rush fandom. One of my closest friends, the self-proclaimed Mr. McKoolChords, would often describe Keith Richards as the “best worst guitar player ever.” There were also several Mick Jagger impersonators in my hall that developed heated rivalries, sometimes spontaneously erupting into hilarious competitions.
Those three albums have generally sat in my record collection since them. I think I have played the first two a couple of times, but I can’t remember if or when I have ever listened to Goat’s Head Soup. Of the three, it has the least amount of fan support, but I still could not bring myself to get rid of it. Recently, I had a desire to get some new music, but really no good leads on anything interesting. It seemed like it might round out the mix, so after eighteen years, I finally put it in rotation. Despite the criticisms that the average Stones fan seems to level at this album, it kind of clicked for me.
The Stones have always had more attitude than substance in their work, but my recent encounter with Goat’s Head Soup has forced me to consider the possibility that the Stones' attitude may actually be their substance, and possibly their most relevant innovation. By pure charismatic will, the Rolling Stones convince their listeners that they are the sexiest, baddest boys around, despite the fact that they clearly aren’t. I mean, if I was a woman and Jagger whispered in my ear like he does on Angie, I would probably be genuinely frightened. Still, when he does it, it somehow works. This song was always one of Mr. McKoolChords favorites, and it is impossible for me to hear it without thinking of him fluidly switching between the melodramatic wail of Jagger and the drunken swagger of Richards. It is his impersonations that make the song captivating and memorable for me – probably more than the song itself.