Sixties-looking photo of naked black woman covering up her private parts with arms and legs, she has a huge Afro against a brown background

Thank god there are no statues to the Rolling Stones.

Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in the market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he's doin' alright
Hear him whip the women just around midnight

Brown Sugar how come you taste so good
Brown Sugar just like a young girl should

Ahem. When I first heard the first verse, first two words, I had no idea what the hell a “gold coast” was. So, having nothing else to do in study hall, I got a pass and went to the library and looked it up. Huh, Ghana. Interesting.

Ghana has had the unfortunate (or perhaps fortuitous--Indians have been known to toast “two cheers for colonialism”) of having been colonized by the British, Germans, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese and Swedes. A veritable colonialist gang bang which inspired a colonialist rock'n'roll song of sexual exploitation a couple centuries later.

Drums beating cold English blood runs hot
Lady of the house wonder when it's going to stop
House boy knows that he's doin' alright
You shoulda heard him just around midnight

First line: wow, racist cliche alert par excellence--the “drums.” I'm assuming at this point it's a brothel situation and some sort of negro 'jass' band is providing the music (think of America's greatest Afro-American musical invention's birthplace).

As for the stereotyping of the English blood, scientific studies have proven the Brits do have a cooler hemoglobin temperature--except for a select group of thin British boys from south London who learned to play the blues between 1959 and 1962.

The “house boy” is obviously Mick Jagger's fantasy projection, he having had a string of black girlfriends early in his career. At least the whipping's stopped in the song.

Brown Sugar, how come you dance so good?
Brown Sugar, just like a black girl should

Racist stereotype alert! A recently free African female now enslaved and dancing in a brothel? I don't think so. This is, like, so demeaning. "Just like a black girl should?" Wow, Jagger, you owe reparations as far as I'm concerned. Whitney Houston couldn't dance a lick--guess you wouldn't have been her house boy? While it is true dance is integral to most African cultures why could Jagger have just said, C'mon, baby, light my fire?


I bet your mama was a tent-show queen
And all her boyfriends were sweet sixteen
I'm no schoolboy but I know what I like
You should have heard me just around midnight

I've always liked how the Stones dipped into genuine American culture. As if appropriating swing, country, funk, blues and slave sex for Brown Sugar wasn't enough, “tent-show queen” refers to the traveling entertainment cultures of the 19th century. Of course they had the morals of carnies—they were carnies. Sex, sex, sex--in a rock'n'roll song? Vapors!

But the implications of sado-masochism with the whipping of slave girls and sex, too, along with fantastic cultural imagery of staid Englishmen and seductive ululating girls of color, well, on a politically correct scale of one to ten, Brown Sugar is a virtual crime against humanity.

And if there were statues to the Rolling Stones, as perhaps there will be someday in some part of London at some point seeing how Jagger is officially recognized by the British Empire as Sir Mick, we will have to do deal with this conundrum of cultural drums signaling something less than virtues down the road.


Which brings me to the Kinks--by way of the new Jagger solo single lamenting Britain's exit from the E.U., England Lost.

The single really sucks as does most of Jagger's solo work. It's a sludgy piece of vastly over-produced muckery with virtually no song to it and of course some guest rapper because Jagger likes to think young. He of course doesn't see Brexit from the working-class point of view (maybe Keith does?) so he doesn't echo anything you haven't already heard. Heard it once, never wanted to hear it again. But I forced myself for you, faithful and literate reader. It didn't get any better.

The Kinks Konnection?

Well, thanks to my fave-rave-coffee-cave, Luck Brothers Coffee on W. 1st and its intrepid work crew of music-minded lads'n'lasses, I am happily subjected to their tastes--frequently provided by a substantial collection of in-house vinyl.

Tim was playing the Kinks double-LP best-of which had the Dave Davies-written, brother Ray-sung “Living On A Thin Line,” a haunting 12-string minor-key ballad about the fading away of England, written and recorded in 1983:

All the stories have been told
of kings and days of old
but there's no England now

It goes on with a mixture of ambiguity and melancholy, the empire's fumes and the inability of the narrator to find meaning in a national purpose to pass on and starkly hints at fascism at the top. An absolute show-stopper, its stately guitar figure could be played by strings at the Queen's Jubilee--or her funeral--and its meaning discussed for ages.

By fantastic coincidence, two nights later it pops up again in the life of yours truly: The Sopranos, the sixth episode of season 3, University, where Ralphie murders the 20-year-old stripper Tracee outside the Bing, enraging Tony who clobbers him. In that show, everybody's living on a thin line.

The Kinks embraced their English-ness throughout their career, with and without enthusiasm for its colonial character. Thus their statues must remain untouched from the majoritarian lynch mob. But the Stones? Naughty, naughty. They gotta go.

Caveat time: Keith apparently had almost nothing to do with the writing of Brown Sugar, that Jagger even came up with the chord progression which, if you'll notice, is nearly identical to Wilson Pickett's In The Midnight Hour. I would be surprised if Keith didn't birth the intro figure which if you'll notice is lone guitar, no drums.

So just tear down Jagger's statue, what say?


I really have to discuss my Luck Brothers Coffee house experience a bit more, if you don't mind.

Their bathroom, actually.

The men's room's sound is serviced by a lovely and very efficient Bose speaker above the door. Given the historically wonderful natural reverb of bathrooms (is it the porcelain?), the excellent air conditioning, the quality speaker sound, the fine tastes of the kids and a facility cleaner than any in all of India including the finest Bollywood producer's palace, there are mornings I don't want to leave it.

Like this morning. I had a doom metal Luck Brothers Coffee House bathroom experience.

There I was, all alone like you're supposed to be, minding my own business when the apocalypse-announcing graveyard guitar chords of Sleep wafted down upon my head from the Bose speaker atop the door. The deep state stoner band whose members were obviously all conceived by parents listening to the first Black Sabbath album during the act, the slow-motion slashing waves of guitar moved like Lucifer's scythe through the cool bathroom air. I was, uh, sorta transfixed being alone with sonic doom in a super-clean bathroom. An unusual experience for me all-round and one I'm willing to pay three bucks a day for a cuppa and a refill.

And then there's the ex-Marine Mike who loaded 30-mm. ammo into Harrier jets somewhere in the western deserts of Iraq. That boy is Mr. Garage Rock Incarnate and once his shift starts at noon I find it hard to leave. Garage bands new to me, like Mystery Lights, the Groupies, Shivas, Needle Pointe and the Nude People with Stooges thrown in for good measure leave me nostalgic for Stache's circa '80s and '90s when the Lyres, Fleshtones, Chesterfield Kings, the Henchmen and plenty more came to town regularly.

And jazz? Todd's the man with his Charles Mingus vinyl, The Saint and the Sinner Lady, which is a mighty fine Sunday morning substitute if you can't make it to your regular pew

He did blow my mind the other day with a couple of tracks out of nowhere from Yusef Lateef's 1961 four-star Eastern Sounds, particularly Blues For the Orient.

Yusef Lateef. In a coffee shop. Wow.

And I wasn't even sitting in the bathroom.

Appears in Issue: