Mick Jagger gave a Q & A for the new Rolling Stones doc, Stones in Exile, about the recording of the 1972 double LP Exile on Main Street. In exile from Britain for tax evasion, the Stones holed up in a Riviera villa not far from Cannes, where they reveled, noodled, created and recorded one of the great all-time albums. "We were young, handsome and stupid," Jagger, 67, told the Palais Stephanie crowd in both French and English. "Now we're just stupid."
Back then, Nixon was in the White House and troops were still in Vietnam, he said. "None of that is in the film." Director Stephen Kijak admitted he was a year old when all this was going on. He uses footage and never-before-seen outtakes from Robert Frank's never-released Cocksucker Blues as well as other archive video and stills shot by Frank and others at the time. I enjoyed seeing the Stones' process of recording an LP back then. It could take two weeks to get one track done. "Mick's rock, I'm roll," Keith Richards says in the film of his low-key approach to recording.
The Riviera scene was idyllic--until the sprawling group's excessive lifestyle got the better of them. Richards and Anita Pallenberg were attending to year-old Marlon. Jagger says he tracked down one of the kids in the photos, Jake Weber, who talks in the film about his job at the villa: rolling joints for the grown-ups. (He turned out OK.) At one point Jagger takes a detour to St. Tropez to marry Bianca. Their cook would disappear every Thursday to go into town and score. "With a hit of smack I could walk through anything and not give a damn," Richards says. Adds Jagger, "You think you're in control of your lifestyle and suddenly, it's in control of you."
Because the album has taken on such iconic status in the Stones canon, it's hard to remember that critics didn't embrace it--until after The Stones took it on a wildly successful tour.
Here's video of the press conference: