Pêchée tout récemment dans le SFJ :
With Jagger's help, 'Alfie' making a comeback
October 17, 2004
BY CINDY PEARLMAN NEW YORK --
How does it feel ? A rock legend asked that question years ago and now Baby Boomers must revisit the inquiry. Specifically, how does it feel when the AARP starts sending that magazine? How does it feel when the gray hairs stage a mutiny and outnumber the darker ones ? And how does it feel when on a Saturday afternoon in SoHo, the guy in the Scholastic bookstore buying educational materials for his grandchildren is none other than Mick Jagger ? The lead singer of the Rolling Stones is 61 years old. When did this happen ? It's not like he's slowing down.
On another day in New York City at the Essex House, that randy rock 'n' roll twinkle remains in Jagger's eyes when he enters a hotel suite. Looking fit in a gray sweatshirt and jeans, he's athletic-looking, thanks to those marathon rock shows and daily swimming sessions. Despite a road map of facial lines, hints of a rebel remain.
"I can't handle the big questions today!" he says, feigning exhaustion. But he's not the least bit tired, just simply amused that his mere presence in a hotel means bodyguards in the hallways, publicists in large groups and second glances from every single woman in the vicinity. But he's not here to talk about being an icon -- more on that later. Jagger just released a critically acclaimed CD featuring the music from the upcoming film"Alfie." He sings several songs and was the soundtrack's producer, along with Dave Stewart. In November, a new double live CD set of Stones songs is due out in stores, plus a new Stones album is in the works. All of the above leave him with little time to be buying little train books for the grandkids, but that's fine with him."The key is to keep going. You never stop," says the man who is living thelyrics: "Start me up and I'll never stop."
Q. You recently wrote the music for the new film "Alfie," about a notoriousplayboy. Is this a topic you know well ? And how is the life of a rock star differentfrom the life of a playboy ?
A. First of all, there aren't any playboys anymore. They don't exist thesedays. It's rather sad, really. Our modern playboys just wrap themselves around treesin badly driven sports cars. I don't know what the difference is between a rock star and a playboy.
Q. So, you are not a playboy ?
A. I've always been a rather career-minded person and any vague resemblance of my life to a playboy's is merely coincidental.
Q. How did you link up with Dave Stewart to write the "Alfie" songs ?
A. One of the first things we ever did was a song for this movie "RuthlessPeople," which starred Bette Midler. We got paid lots of money, which we then spent on worthless consumer items. [Laughs] So it was easy to say yes again.
Q. What are the challenges ?
A. Doing a soundtrack, you don't have this complete freedom to write. You have to write a specific song around a specific character and enhance a specific scene. So it's very disciplined in that way. In a way it's kind of interesting because it'sanother form of writing. You have to get it right for the scene, which is ratherinteresting. And on top of that, there's a lot of craft that goes on. You have to look at other scenes and make these songs work in other scenes. For example, one of the lead songs on "Alfie" is "Old Habits Die Hard," which is a rather happy-go-lucky tune when you first hear it. But when you put it in another scene and slow it down and take out some instrumentation, it becomes a much more romantic or sadder tune than it initially appears. You need to fit the movie's mood.
Q. Was it different writing songs with Dave vs. Keith Richards ?
A. I write songs a lot with different people. I write a lot of stuff with Dave, I write a lot of stuff with Keith, and I write a lot of stuff on my own. There's hundreds of different ways of writing songs within that formula. I just spent two weekswriting songs with Keith and some are songs where I'm just there on my own and Keith walks in and plays the bass on what I've written. And some days it's the reverse, I go in and play the piano on something he's written. Dave and I are very concentrated and we're quite detailed. We force one another to finish everything. We like to do our work and get it done.
Q. The original movie "Alfie" with Michael Caine was such a hit in the1960s. Were you familiar with his world ?
A. To be honest, I saw the original movie "Alfie" at the time and I don't remember an awful lot about it, except that the character made Michael Caine a bigger star than he already was. But I know of the theme. The Alfie character is a guy that doesn't want to commit to a relationship. I think that's a character throughout the last 300-400 years in literary history that comes off again and again. He's a young guy who has lots of girlfriends before he realizes he has to settle down somehow with one of them.
Q. You've acted in and produced movies. What's the attraction ?
A. It's very exciting to get a good part. But it doesn't happen very often in my case.Some actors don't ever get good parts, so it's very competitive. There aremany good people out there who can sing, dance and act. There shouldn't be a greatdivision between these things. Some people get really annoyed if they specialize in one field and someone else moves into it. But I don't care. A lot of people in music can do all things to varying degrees of success. I don't see why not. I admire people who can do more than one thing.
Q. Will the Stones tour again ?
A. I don't know who's going be ready first -- [the new] Wembley Stadium or the Rolling Stones. Charlie's [Watts] a lot better. He's had all his treatments andhe's been pronounced sort of free and clear of everything, so we're very pleasedabout that. And Keith and I have been writing new material for the Stones' new albums. I don't know when the Stones will actually tour, but I suspect we'll do the album and then we'll do a tour.
Q. So how does it feel to get up onstage these days ? Is it the same thrill as when you were younger, hearing the roar of the crowd ?
A. It's still a wow. Of course, it's the same thrill. It's exactly the same thing. You get in front of an audience. It's a similar feeling to when I first started. when I get up now. You know, in a lot of ways, it's exactly the same. I don't think that the thrill or the excitement that drew you to it in the beginning is the same.But it's still a thrill.
Q. Can you define that thrill ?
A. It's about never really knowing what's going to happen. You never never know what the audience is going to be like. You never know how they're going to behave. You expect them to do certain things, but they don't always do that. You don't always do the same things that you've done the night before. I think that's what brings you into live playing and what makes live playing so interesting as opposed to being in the studio.