Exile On Main Street
The Rolling Stones
1. a. A crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point; ..from Greek krinein to decide.
One of the things that make the Rolling Stones album, Exile on Main Street, interesting, and why so many people invest it with significance in the story of the Rolling Stones, is that it is a product of crisis. When the Stones collected themselves to begin assembling their first album of the 1970s, they were faced with a dilemma that everyone who had invested any sort of hope in the recently passed events of the late ‘60s was also facing. Like early Christians in A.D. 100 finally conceding that the Kingdom of Heaven wasn’t arriving any time soon, the vanguard of the cultural revolution had to figure out what to do now that the revolution hadn’t come. Just a couple of years before, rock and roll bands had been hierarchs working their magic to effect the great turning of the age that almost everyone who had anything to do with the “counterculture” was in one form or another anticipating. But Exile was recorded on the world’s great morning after, when everyone awoke and found themselves in the 1970s. The curtains were torn open to let in the glare of daylight, and for the first time you could see how pasty, bloodshot and unwell everyone really looked.
And in that morning the Rolling Stones found themselves, like it or not, living out the question that the Beatles broke up rather than face—what meaning does mere rock and roll have when the energies that made you icons and avatars, that provided your music with half its meaning, have been turned off like a gas flame under a pot? How much of your greatness was your music, and how much was the moment? What is rock and roll supposed to do when it becomes merely music, and not a huge cultural signifier?
Read the rest at The Bluegrass Special.