Monday, April 18, 2016


Just when you thought there was nothing left to say about the Rolling Stones, along comes a new book by Rich Cohen, contributing editor to Vanity Fair.  

Its title comes from an interview he did with Keith who asked Rich when he was born (1968) and said: "What's its like to live in a world where the Stones were always there? For you, there's always been the sun and the moon and the Rolling Stones."

Rich Cohen was on the road with the Stones for Rolling Stone magazine back in 1994 when he was 26. After this he really landed on his feet, working for years with Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese on a movie that became Vinyl, an HBO tv series, which started screening Feb 2016.

Cohen describes having three-course dinners in the grand dining room of Scorsese's house on Manhattan's Upper East Side and listening to the two reminisce. Jagger then gave a him a list of people to interview - legendary vets who'd seen it all from the inside of the music business.

Cohen recalls talking with Joe Smith who ran Warner Brothers Records, by the pool at the Mondrian in LA. 'He told me about buying Van Morrison's contract from the Mob. "I flew  to New York with a briefcase of cash. We made the exchange in a warehouse near the river: "You got the dough?". "Yeah, you got the contract?" Classic and real.

These details come from a warm-up piece for the book in the April issue of Vanity Fair. Cohen gets to sit in Keith and Ronnie Wood's "guitar room" which is replicated at every gig and arena they play at, with a snooker table, couches, coffee tables, ashtrays and loads of guitars. He describes it as 'the inner sanctum, the back room where the cardinals prepare for Communion. Poking through the doctor's bag he carried everywhere, Richards might look up, smile and say, "Tell me what's wrong. In Here, I've got a cure for whatever ails you."

He says Mick scares him but Keith is reassuring. 'He stands for survival. There's nothing you've done he's not overdone - nothing you've suffered he's not survived.' Mick, on the other hand, is one in a million, a force of nature who is unknowable. He is 'not understood because he does not want to be...mystery is power. Distance is charisma.... Mick Jagger is over-exposed and yet remains hidden...even his real name sounds like a pseudonym.

Cohn explains how the Stones began as a gang and then became 'like a bitter married couple who stay on for the kids. Only the kids are grown. Or maybe the money is the kids.' Cohen believes  'Exile on Main Street' was the pinnacle of their greatness and the death of their friendship explains the loss of their mojo. He believes 'Some Girls' to be the last great Stones' album: 'That record is pure New York in the late 70s. Fantasy Gotham. Cocaine and rats, mean streets at dawn. The licks as sharp as any Keith ever dreamed up.'

Full review to follow. 

'The Sun, The Moon & The Rolling Stones' by Rich Cohen will be published in the UK by Headline in May. 

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