This will be the only song from Mick Jagger’s solo career that I will be writing about.
And in fact, there might be some confusion as to whether or not “Memo From Turner” is truly a Mick solo song. Not only was it co-written by Keith Richards, the Stones themselves — or some semblance thereof — recorded a version of it in 1968 that ended up on Metamorphosis some years later.
But that version is a run-through, a trifle, when compared to the version that Mick put out as what stood as his only solo single until he actually thought he could sustain a career without the riffs of Keith Richards upon which to stack his vocal dexterity.
Luckily, not. And while 30 years of not being the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band should have taken its toll upon the Rolling Stones, it turns out that they’re like The Simpsons: you can’t kill them, but you can ignore whatever it is they’re doing now, because they were so great for so long it doesn’t even matter.
In any event, during the mid-point of that period where they Could Do No Wrong (I mean, except for Altamont, of course), Mick Jagger filmed a Nicolas Roeg movie called Performance, where he played a rock star called Turner, meaning that “Memo From Turner” was written to order for that character, so it’s Mick Jagger even more in character than normal.
So his vocal is near-manic, taking the piss out of the “gentlemen” — who are, of course, no such thing — he’s addressing with a slur and a tease.
Come now, gentleman
Your love is all I crave
You’ll still be in the circus
When I’m laughing, laughing in my graaaaaave
Also near-manic: Ry Cooder’s slide guitar, which spends the entire song dancing like Jagger over Gene Parsons nervous, jumpy beat, which is so skittery it nearly slides right off of the record.
If I was being honest: “Memo From Turner” isn’t anywhere as great as the songs from Let it Bleed and Sticky Fingers it would have had to compete with had they decided to put it on one of those records.
But, of course, they didn’t — because it was during that period where the Rolling Stones Could Do No Wrong — and I do love “Memo From Turner” enough to write about it, even if it’s just an excuse to tell you how fucking excited I’m going to be to write about the Stones proper in 2020 or so if we ever get there.
“Memo From Turner”
“Memo From Turner” in Performance
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