Uncut Editor's Diary

Scorsese, the Stones and Shine A Light

Allan Jones

Bear with me a minute while I blow away a few of these cobwebs. Yeah, that’s better. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I went yesterday to a screening of Martin Scorsese’s Shine a Light, his film of The Rolling Stones in concert at New York's Beacon Theatre.

I’m sure that given my very public affection for the Stones, for which I am occasionally slapped around by readers in whose lives, quite mysteriously as far I’m concerned, the band loom less significantly, no one is going to be left in a shocked or breathless condition, heads reeling in gob-smacked surprise, by my reaction.

I fucking loved it.

John’s already posted a fascinating response to the film on his Wild Mercury Blog, elsewhere on uncut.co.uk - which anyone interested in either the Stones or great writing about rock music should go to now -and I’ll be reviewing it at no doubt windier length in the issue of Uncut that will coincide with its official release in April, so I won’t say too much about it here, although I am sore tempted to invite you to pull up a chair while I wax what they call lyrical about the thing, the Stones’ enduring excellence and the technical brilliance with which Scorsese has captured what was obviously a barnstorming performance.

Biting my tongue, though, I’ll just mention one of many highlights – Buddy Guy’s show-stealing version with the Stones of “Champagne And Reefers”, which pretty much brings the house down and ends with a suitably-awed Keith Richards taking off his guitar – an old favourite, apparently, of Keith’s, probably with its own name, like something you’d call a pet – and giving it to Buddy. “Here, man,” Keith tells the blues veteran, who looks at him, handsomely baffled. “It’s yours.”

It occurs to me to also mention here a fantastic new book, also due out in April, from Jonathan Cape, called Sway, written by Zachary Lazar. Like last year’s Eat The Document – which told the story of a suburban American mother’s secret history as a member of the Weather Underground terrorists via her son’s obsession with The Beach Boys, in which Denis Wilson and Arthur Lee had fictional cameos – it’s that rare thing: a novel that convincingly and intelligently touches upon rock’n’roll and the people who make it, and apart from Don DeLillo’s Great Jones Street and Thomas McGuane’s Panama, there haven’t been too many of them.

Sway, however, compellingly tracks the linked histories of the Stones, film maker Kenneth Anger and Bobby Beausoleil, the failed young rock star who became a murderous acolyte of Charles Manson, and thus therefore takes in both the slaughter of Sharon Tate and her friends by the Manson Family and the grim events that followed when the Stones played Altamont.

I’ll be reviewing that in our May issue, also, so enough for me at the moment


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