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Mick Jagger on the Future of Live Music, the Stones’ Next Album, and More

“We’re in the never-never land,” Jagger says from his home in the European countryside, where he’s been writing, recording – and keeping in shape for the next tour

Mick Jagger onstage in Manchester, England, in June 2018.

Andrew Benge/Redferns/Getty Images

Mick Jagger was supposed to have a very different 2020, playing sold-out stadiums on the Rolling StonesNo Filter tour. But he’s not letting the pandemic slow him down. Isolating at home in the European countryside, he’s been writing, recording, and working on documentary projects. “Can’t feel sorry for yourself,” he says. He’s also spent a lot of time looking back: The Stones just released a huge box set celebrating 1973’s Goats Head Soup, one of the band’s darkest and most misunderstood LPs. Jagger and Richards recently went deep into the making of the album; here is the extended Q&A with Jagger, where he talks about the future of live music, the next Stones album and more.

What have you been up to during this time?
I’ve been in Europe, in the country, and I’ve always had outdoor-space access. I’m feeling really sorry for some of my friends who don’t have as much, or can’t get out, or if they do get out, it’s a bit fraught. Every time I read the American newspapers, it looks just horrific.

What do you think will come of all this?
We’re in the never-never land. I mean, all we can say is that looking, analyzing it, some places are better than others and are doing better, but you’ve got to look at it from a global perspective. It’s awful. And we can’t see into the future. But we can learn from other people’s mistakes, and we can learn from other people’s successes.

What have you done with your days to occupy yourself?
Well, I have been able to go out, so that’s been a great thing for me. The weather’s been lovely. It hasn’t been, like, the middle of November and rainy. That would be depressing.  It was a beautiful spring, and that was amazing — I’m normally not in my place long enough to watch the blossoms unfold. And then I did a few bits of work here and there. I finished off that “Ghost Town” track. Then I finished off these extras for Goats Head Soup, which I did at home. And I’ve been finishing off more tracks that we recorded before that we hadn’t finished. I’m doing some of that now. I’m writing some new songs and getting along with some documentary projects for different things. A few movie things I can get on with. You know, you try to keep yourself busy, because there’s quite a lot of downtime. But I still try to enjoy that as much as possible, like a lot of people.

Does this make you appreciate performing more?
I mean, I love performing. I’ve been singing quite a lot, so I’m trying to keep that bit together, and I’ve been exercising quite a lot, so I’m keeping that bit together. Yeah, I miss performing. But I’m not in such a bad position. And I do have other jobs to do, so you can’t feel sorry for yourself. The larger point really is: how, in the short, medium and long term, is everyone that performs live, and in fact even in cinema and so on — how is it going to function in the future? How are are we going to function?

Well, we don’t know how it’s going to function. In Europe, we’ve had small-scale concerts. We’ve had socially-distanced concerts. You can see [concerts] starting in some parts of the world, New Zealand, Australia, so on. But as far as the U.S. is concerned, we don’t really know what the future holds. So many people [are] out of work, losing money. Is it ever going to be the same again? Will it be always different? We just don’t know.

Well, last summer was incredible. It’s going to be a big moment when you guys step back onstage again.
We might be playing to very few people. Even though we know we might be lucky enough to sell tickets, we might not be able to play to them all at once.

Would you play a socially-distanced concert?
Yeah, I suppose if that was the way of the world, of course.

Where does Goats Head Soup fall in the Stones catalog in your mind?
Well, you know, it’s not an album that’s as revered as Exile on Main Street, which preceded it, in most people’s minds — I suppose including me, though we do songs from it onstage. We do “Angie.” We do “Heartbreaker.” We sometimes do “Dancing with Mr D.” We’ve done that a couple of times. I should have the list in front of me. I should be better informed of my own work.

Silver Train,” “Winter.”
Yeah, we haven’t done “Winter” or stuff like that. There’s quite a few things we haven’t done. It’s not an album we do that many songs from. I mean, it’s a different kind of album. It was more or less done in one place, in a relatively short space of time, as opposed to Exile, which was very spread out time-wise. And so it is a different-sounding record. It’s got some good things.

You guys had made Exile, toured it, and you went straight back into the studio.
Yeah. I remember we wanted to go to L.A. to record, but we had some visa problems at the time, so we decided to record most of it in Jamaica. A couple of things, I think, were done in London. They said to me, “Well there’s unreleased tracks there.” And I remember thinking, “Oh no.” Unreleased tracks to me, that always means a lot of work. It’s like, “Things that you didn’t like and didn’t finish!” I’ve got a bit of a negative thing about them. But then you start  listening to them and going, “Well, actually, it’s not bad at all. I don’t know why we didn’t finish it.” We were just being lazy, you know. You finish them like you would if you recorded them last week. Finish the vocals, or redo bits of them. “Where are my maracas? Surely I must have my maracas around here….” Stuff like that.

So you went back into the studio and finished “Scarlet” and “All the Rage” and “Criss Cross“?
Yeah. Actually not as much work as some of the ones I’ve done on previous releases. “All the Rage” didn’t really have much vocals, so I had to write that, basically. And obviously do the vocals. But “Criss Cross” and “Scarlet,” I didn’t do any vocals for. I just did some stuff at the end [for] my fade-out vocal. “Scarlet” is a bit of an odd one, because it wasn’t really recorded for Goats Head Soup. It was just a song that we had knocking around. I remember doing it with a couple of other people, in addition to the version that was found.

In This Article: Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones