Friday, March 22, 2013

SALT OF THE EARTH by The Rolling Stones

Ambivalence is a quality that is regarded in general as a gutless affectation of those with money who cannot muster a concerned moan or a sigh about the plight and fate of those less well endowed . Sometimes, though, it is a tale that must be told  at times by poets, novelists, playwrights. 

The undecided experience is an experience none the less.  There are those, of course, in this class who at least have what they consider the decency to feign a concern, the very subject of  "Salt of the Earth" by the Rolling Stones from their 1968  Beggars Banquet    album.An amazing song; Jagger's lyrics does not the very neat and difficult trick of commenting on it's own expression with a verse, late in the song, we have the admission 
 "...when I look in the faceless crowd /A swirling mass of grays and Black and white /They don't look real to me/Or don't they look so strange..." 
It's worth noting that if  this song didn't have this qualifying , confessional side note where the assumedly monied liberal admits his inability to empathize with the plight of the  poor and oppressed, it would have been a first rate Lefty/Wobbly/Pro Labor protest song geared to rally the base and convince the still apethetic. Joan Baez must have noted this as well, and changed the lyrics when she covered the song to words sympathetic to the  proletariat. It is one of the best inside jokes of the Sixties.

 From the Rolling Stones original, however, we have a profound and  rare admission from 60s pop-star that the causes and the suffering outside their privileged bubble were alien, "other", and that dealing with them was another pose to strike for the cameras. The Stones were always ambivalent when it came to the politics of the period, but I do admire the way they never shied away from their inability to pick a side.