“ 'Street Fighting Man’ was the first time I had a sound in my head that was bugging me. That would happen again many times, of course, but after that song I knew how to deal with it. Only in the studio could I put the two things together—the minimalist sound and the overdubbing. That's where the vision met reality. When we were completely done recording ‘Street Fighting Man’ and played back the master, I just smiled. It's the kind of record you love to make—and they don't come that often.”—Rolling Stones guitarist and co-composer Keith Richards, quoted in Marc Myers, “What Can a Poor Boy Do?”, The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2013
Now what can a poor boy do ‘cept wish a 70-year-old rock ‘n’ renegade “happy birthday”?—and wonder how on earth he made it to this age?
Well, you could read the interview from which the above quote was taken. It still won’t help you fathom why Keith Richards didn’t die 25, even 45, years ago, from all his substance abuse, but it’ll renew your appreciation for his keen creative intelligence, especially the studio smarts displayed in this interview.
If there ever was an annus horribilis, it was not, contrary to what Queen Elizabeth II might believe, the year all her children had marital difficulties, but 1968, a time of assassinations, a futile war, racial disturbances, and transatlantic campus unrest. But it also produced masterly attempts to gauge the temper of the times, such as this classic tune written by Mr. Richards and his composing partner, Mr. Jagger.