Just Another Moody Monday, continued

Okay, so I figure this won’t be the venue for soliciting reactions (I have no strong reaction myself, frankly, beyond mouthing what a few others have already said), but here’s a bit of what’s out there: Maura Johnston: But this is all part of a nastier trend in writing about music, one that resembles a dying yawp of a certain type of white dude who … Continue reading Just Another Moody Monday, continued

From the Archives: Stanley Booth (2000)

Steven Ward’s August 2000 interview with the great Stanley Booth, another out-of-the-blue coup for Steven. Incidentally, a few months ago, on a family excursion, I travelled for the first time ever to the deep south, including Waycross, Georgia, which was practically down the road from where we stayed. Every time we passed the sign leading to Okefinokee Swamp — we never did make that turn, sadly — I couldn’t help but mutter to myself, “Wow, we’re in Stanley Booth country now.” 

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The True Adventures of Stanley Booth
E-mail interview with the Stones’ greatest chronicler

By Steven Ward, August 2000

Stanley Booth is one hell of a writer. The evidence is clear once you pick up his book on the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, The True Adventures of The Rolling Stones . Many writers and Stones fans feel that Booth’s tale is not only the definitive book on the Stones, but one of the definitive rock books, period.

Why? Like I said before, Booth is one of hell of a writer. Also, because a younger Booth actually was there. He went to parties, sat in on press interviews, ate dinner, did drugs, and drank and toured with the band during one of their most creative periods–after Brian Jones died, but before Exile on Main St. took shape. Booth was at Altamont during the filming of Gimme Shelter and the stabbing death of Meredith Hunter. He also witnessed the awe-inspiring, passionate performance the Stones gave after Hunter passed away–maybe the only way the band could deal with the evil and destruction that was growing out of the community that was the free concert’s audience that day in 1969.

But Booth is much more than a guy who followed the Stones around in the late ’60s. He’s an intellectual Southerner that learned to read before he was three and wrote his first novel at nine. A voracious reader who is as comfortable with Twain and Faulkner as he is with Eastern philosophy scribes, Booth is a man consumed–passionate about good writing, and not just music writing. As the Waycross, Georgia native says in the interview below, he does not have much use for people who write “about” music. He writes stories about people. His history of the musicians who represent the South, Rythm Oil: A Journey Through the Music of the American South is about to be re-released in October by Da Capo Press. Run out and buy it. Booth is currently working on a biography about his buddy and fellow Waycross native, Gram Parsons.

Below are some of Booth’s thoughts on rock journalism, the Rolling Stones, favourite books and authors, and the answer to a question many people like to pose to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards today: “Can you ever be too old to rock and roll?”

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Steven:   The first thing that pops into my mind is, do you still keep in touch with any of the Stones and what do you think of the last few albums and tours?

Stanley:   Yes, I still keep in touch with the Stones, though we do go for long periods without communicating. This happens when friends grow older and have kids and grandkids.

The Stones still do more or less what they used to, but history has changed the context in which it happens. The Stones’ actions will probably never again carry the weight they bore in 1969. I don’t enjoy the big stadium shows, and I find the precision of the later tours off-putting. Keith, Charlie, Ronnie, Bobby Keys, are still great. But I prefer the earlier Stones records, up through Tattoo You, I guess. On that album Sonny Rollins plays more and better than any Rolling Stone ever played on anything.

Steven:   I know you grew up in Georgia. Give me some bio info connected to that experience. How old are you, where exactly did you grow up, etc.?

Stanley:   I lived in Georgia from 1942 till the end of the fifties, seventeen years. I was born in Waycross, near the Okefinokee Swamp, a heavily Protestant area with many blacks and many white racists. In fact practically all the whites were racist to some extent. Racism was in the air one breathed. Physically it was a great world for a boy–pine trees, alligators, horses. I lived for a time in a turpentine camp in the pine woods near Waycross and even when I didn’t live there, stayed there a lot with my grandparents. I thought it was Heaven until one of the black woods hands tried to stab my grandfather. I was five years old then and it opened my eyes to the fact that the world wasn’t perfect.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Stanley Booth (2000)”