A dear, good friend of mine and a man whose music taste I appreciate (who also happens to be the editor of this local rock’n’roll publication for this deprived rock’n’roll town) just sent me a text message: Beatles rule, Stones drool.
As a 26-year-old man who owns no music released after 1999, this question has always puzzled me… Beatles or Stones… why not both? Chocolate and peanut butter work well together, as does marijuana and alcohol, cigarettes and coffee. When I grew up, my father and mother were highschool sweethearts; both graduated the same year (1971), the heyday of what I truly consider the rock’n’roll we all know now. Both of my parents were “Beatles guys” and I own 13 original Beatles records that sit in my shop to this day. And on the back of each of them reads “To John, from Sandy. Winter 1968.” Or on my favorite copy of Abbey Road: “To Sandy, from John. Summer 1969.” So needless to say, I grew up listening to the Beatles with my father… but never once did I hear the Rolling Stones if not randomly on the classic rock station.
So I grew up, got into punk rock and weed at 15 just like everyone (blah blah blah) but happened to stumble across a copy of “Let it Bleed” by the Rolling Stones and BOOM!
I don’t think that record left my turntable for a good six months other than to be flipped. So I started acquiring Stones records. (And I’m young but not that young; I bought records god dammit. I still don’t know how to download shit.)
For the duration of high school, the Stones were my jam. When I was 17 I got my first tattoo, the Stones’ tongue, with my father’s permission. And on that tip I remember one fine evening where my dad said to me “You know, I never gave a shit about the Stones but considering I work from home and you just sit in your room and listen to Stones records on full blast, I really have no choice but to hear them. And you know what? I think I actually like ‘em” That, for me as a young man, was bridging generational gaps: my own father conceding to the Stones… gotdamn.
If you’re a realist, there is no argument that the Stones had way more balls—and the Beatles were kinda bitches. The Beatles wanted to hold your hand and Keith Richards wanted to do a bump off… whatever. What the Beatles had in their favor was they stopped. Can you imagine Kurt Cobain’s music as of late… or more realistically, the reality show he would star in now? Or Jimi Hendrix playing the inaugural ball? Why them dudes is what they are now is because they stopped… or died, whatever. The Stones have a lot of bullshit and personally, I don’t like anything past Exile on Main Street and I think even that album is overrated. There’s some diamonds in the rough but the Stones are a bunch of saggy-ass old dudes now.
I guess the question has been waged for ever and ever, and there may not be just one defining answer. And yeah, you may be too fucking cool to appreciate anything either of those limey bands did (and how they all ripped off American music)—but they were both good bands. Deep down in my soul, truly and honestly, stuck on a desert island, I would choose the Stones. But then again, I would really want to hear “Yer Blues” every once in a while.