Ev’rywhere I hear the sound
Of marching charging feet, boy
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right
For fighting in the street, boy
Well now, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n’ roll band?
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man, no…” –
Mick Jagger/ Keith Richards,”Street Fighting Man” 1968

In preparing this fiftieth anniversary rockumentary on the Rolling Stones‘ Beggars Banquet  album and the lead single from it in 1968,”Street Fighting Man”, the concurrence of history, song inspiration, and current events has been uncanny. Just this past May 5, writing in the New York Times  under the headline “May 1968: a Month of Revolution Pushed France into the Modern World”, reporter Alissa Rubin states that May 1968 ” mass protests, street battles and nationwide strikes transformed France. It was not a political revolution…but a cultural and social one that in a stunningly short time changed French society.” This event was the inspiration for the song by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger then. Ms. Rubin went on to write in May this year, “Today it is hard to imagine a Western country completely engulfed by a social upheaval.”

Oh my. Take a look at Paris this past Saturday.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet  and barely seven months following that naïve notion there is no need to imagine  it, as the same reporter yesterday 12/9 wrote in the NYT under the headline “Tear Gas Still Lingering, France’s President Will Address the Nation” that “…after a fourth weekend of protests…France’s President Emmanuel Macron’s speech will answer the so-called Yellow Vest movement that has transfixed France and spilled into other countries in Europe.”

Writing on AllMusic.com, one of our most trusted rock writers Richie Unterberger refers to the Rolling Stones‘ 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request  as “… a fascinating anomaly in the group’s discography.” Four significant things occurred to explain in part why the follow up in late 1968, Beggars Banquet,  sounds so completely different: 1) Stones co-founder Brian Jones lost his high-profile model/ girlfriend to another man, who just happened to be his band mate Keith Richards; 2) Jones attended the Monterey Pop Festival in full bloom of the San Francisco psychedelic scene but, most conspicuously, without his band;  3) Keith Richards finally found time to actually listen to all of those American blues and r&b records he had purchased on the Stones’ first trip to the U.S.; and 4) the Stones finally let go of their self-conscious competition with the Beatles, and found their own groove in embracing rough hewn country blues. There are timeless classics served up at this feast such as “Street Fighting Man” and the leering “Sympathy for the Devil”; chugging bloozy rockers “Stray Cat Blues” and “Parachute Woman”; and musical signposts “Dear Doctor” (their first stab at unabashed country and western) and the under-appreciated “Salt of the Earth”. And that does not count the non-album singles which bookended the album, “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Honky Tonk Women” ! (L-R the late Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Stone alone Bill Wyman)

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and original Stones bass player and band historian  Bill Wyman are our dinner hosts. And for your ultimate  Stones fan or guitarist on your holiday shopping list, Fender  released the commemorative “Keef” Beggars Telecaster ! – Redbeard

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