“Some Girls Live in Texas ‘78” is a Rolling Stones concert film that is set for a worldwide release on DVD and Blu-ray on November 21, 2011. The movie was filmed in Forth Worth, Texas, on July 18, 1978, during the band’s tour to promote the Rolling Stones’ 1978 album “Some Girls.” The DVD/Blu-ray releases include an August 2011 interview (conducted by journalist Paul Sexton) with lead singer Mick Jagger giving his thoughts on the concert and his memories of 1978. Here is the complete transcript of the interview:
Your chosen subject for today is 1978.
[He laughs] My special subject.
Do you remember the tour poster behind you, from 1978?
I do. I think it was Charlie [Watts] and me [who chose the poster]. I think it was very fashionable at the time to try these propaganda posters.
Do you remember the T-shirt you were wearing in this particular show in Forth Worth? The “Destroy” T-shirt.
It must have been that sort of “punk” thing. I must have bought that in one of these sorts of shops. I went to these shops, like really cheap shops. So instead of having, as designer do, I went to these cheap shops and bought a load of trashy stuff. And I do have designers do some things, but I mixed it up between these cheap things and some really nasty, horrible [outfits] … All of these things.
I joke in retrospect. But there were some nasty plastic leatherette hats and some nasty, cheap colored jackets, mixed up with some kind of good things. So I think that though this looked very simple here and very laid-back, I think the ones outdoors were a bit more flamboyant, because I think outdoors, they used to [do those concerts] in the day, so you had to wear those super-bright colors or else you really disappeared.
This was the era when punk was supposedly coming in to boot guys like you out. Do you remember thinking it being a big deal at the time?
Inevitably, you live in the time that you’re in, and you couldn’t have possibly avoided the whole thing: the feeling of that year and the years before. So I think it’s more in the playing than the writing. Maybe. I don’t know. I think a bit of both.
But having said that, you can say that and then you turn around and go, “Yeah, but you did this country song. You did a straight country song.” And then this dance tune, which is “Miss You,” which has nothing to do with punk; it couldn’t be more different.
But see, all of these things were going on at the same time, which made this particular era, musically, very interesting. What you’ve got going on is this punk thing, which is rather short-lived. It’s almost coming to an end, I think, by the end of 1978. And you’ve got the beginnings of rap, which is going on in New York, specifically. And then you have the kind of New Wave, if you want to call it, if you want. Whatever.
So in New York, you’ve got this mixture of things going on in a very small area. I was there quite a lot. So then you’ve got CBGB’s, and you’ve got some rap going on in Brooklyn.
You’ve got dance music starting to go into the total mainstream. There was lots of gay dance music. There was lots of Latin dance music. And then there’s a kind of synthesis of it going on, particularly in New York.
In other places, there’s a complete separation of it, where people are going, “I hate that, and I love this. This is my music, and I hate that,” whereas in New York, you had a more kind of tolerant idea of it. So you have one group being very inspired by another.
Do you remember how “Miss You” came about?
I was writing a tune with Billy Preston, who was playing the drums. I was just on my own in this rehearsal room, I think. And Billy Preston was playing the drums. And he was playing this four on the floor, dance beat thing. And I hadn’t really thought of it like that when I was writing. I don’t think I really thought of it like that.
But Billy was playing this four on the floor thing. So when Charlie walked in, he heard Billy playing that. I think that’s how I remember it. Maybe Charlie will remember it differently. But then Charlie and I just carried on playing the four on the floor. It’s not a new beat by any means. Everyone said it was disco. It wasn’t really. The only think disco about it was the four on the floor thing. And the rest of it was completely Rolling Stones.
There was a slight element of rap in there, the way I kind of delivered it. So obviously, I’d been listening a bit to that, to Sugarhill Gang. Rap then wasn’t like rap now. It was much more gentle. And when Dr. Dre did a remix of “Miss You,” I’d forgot what I’d actually done vocally. And then when I listened to the Dr. Dre remix, I realized what I was kind of doing, that kind of delivery that at the time was considered sort of talking.
And also, you had that element was in “Shattered” also. It’s like a kind of a punk beat with this guitar riff that Keith [Richards] does. And what I do is this sort of semi-rap thing. It’s half-talking. So obviously, I was very influenced by that. I think this record [“Some Girls”] is a good synthesis of all those things that were going on at the same time.
Were you specifically influenced as a writer by disco, because you used to go to a lot of clubs yourself around that time?
Rock people, particularly, I thought that they hated disco and everything, but I don’t really know why. It was a bit of “This is my music.” They didn’t react to it well. I never really understood that kind of thing.
There was very awful disco music. There was awful rock music and awful every kind of music. And there were also very good disco songs … which have always stood the test of time. They were fantastic. We all know what they are.
And all these things, the crap, fall by the wayside. And what was really good lasts. But it was actually a really good era for dance music, looking back on it.
In regards to building the set list for this Fort Worth show, there are eight songs [from the “Some Girls” album] in a row, which is different from the way you usually do a show. When you do that [play several songs in a row from the same album] in a show, are those the ones you look forward to the most?
You might be. It depends how good you are playing them and how settled you are. You might approach them with some trepidation, because those are the ones you tend to mess up. You have to concentrate. You can see on “Shattered,” the concentration on everyone’s faces to go with the changes [in the song]. I don’t know if the audience sees it, but I can see it this, “Yeah, OK. You better make these changes right because if you screw up.” And if you screw the ending up, you’ve had it, you know? Even if Charlie plays one beat too many, it’s definitely wrong. [He laughs.]
So I can say the new songs, you want to get them right. They were obviously very good to play on stage: a lot of uptempo numbers. Very, very fast and “get on with it.” Short and sweet as well. And stuff like “Just My Imagination” being a cover version, people knew it, so that helped as well.
The tour that the Fort Worth show was a part of was the Rolling Stones’ first American tour in three years … And it was a mixture of [venues]. You did indoors shows in arenas and stadiums as well.
And it was quite a short tour. We counted up the days just now. You said there were 40 [concert dates]. I don’t think it was that many. It was something like 20-something-odd shows. And they were a mixture of gigs. This one [the Fort Worth show] is [in] an arena.
And there were theaters. There was the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, which we’ve played since then. And there were some stadium shows, like three or four stadiums: Soldiers Field in Chicago, the stadium in Anaheim. And there were regular arenas, mostly arenas.
It’s a formula that you can do. The only thing about doing is that it’s quite tricky to adjust from one thing to another on a regular basis. And to be honest, you need different songs for different gigs. You can’t always play these same songs. If you’ve got a set list, you’ve got to have a big fount of songs to change it up. I’m not sure if we did on this tour, but if you go into a theater, you don’t want to do the same [songs].
If you do it [perform the same set list for a tour], it tends not to quite work so well. It’s hard to do. You go from the Fox Theatre in Atlanta to a 90,000-seat stadium. It’s very different. Your attitude to the audience is different. You go into the Fox Theatre doing what you do in Anaheim [at the stadium], and you look absolutely stupid. You have to really pull back so the audience can see your eyes, and you can see their eyes. [He laughs.] It’s a completely different feeling. So it’s quite hard doing a tour, but it keeps you interested. Otherwise, if you keep doing arenas, arenas, arenas, it can become a bit repetitive.
One of the things that struck me about watching the show is that it’s a very workman-like performance by the band.
It’s quite intense though, the performance. It’s quite concentrated. On the other hand, you can see everyone concentrating and trying to get everything right. It’s not sloppy. Everyone’s having fun, but they’re concentrating. Some bits seem very throwaway, which is kind of good.
The other thing about this era is that it was just after Keith had his drugs bust. Was there a feeling of uncertainty about the future of the band at that time for you?
It was very uncertain, yeah. In my “Miss You” story with Billy Preston, I think Keith was in jail at that point, and I was writing this. Billy was there. We were supposed to be playing a gig in Toronto, and Keith was actually in jail. So I was just writing this song.
So it was very uncertain. It was also difficult because the Americans are very difficult about visas and things. So if you have a drug bust, your position as a working musician becomes very tricky.
Another thing about the show is there’s almost a complete lack of any apparent security. It’s just you out in front of the stage and moving around, as you were beginning to do. It’s just you and the crowd.
You’ll find that some places would be very, very full of security, depending on the building. So this building was obviously very relaxed. It could have been … It was a very relaxed building. You go to another building, it would be like paranoia beyond. And if you had filmed that …
But maybe for the filming, we’d got rid of security, because it never looks good. They get in the way. And the security, they see a camera, and also everyone’s affected by cameras, including security people. I mean, they want to be in the shot. So I think probably [concert promoter] Bill Graham, being clever, probably got rid of the security … I think that’s probably how it worked.
And I also noticed that at the end of the show, you — as I’m sure was a very affectionate gesture — also chucked a couple of buckets of water over the crowd.
Yeah. They were very hot. I used to put it on myself. Do I put it on myself [in the 1978 Forth Worth show]?
I don’t think so.
I don’t? I spare myself. I’m very kind. I’m very kind so I don’t have to get covered in water. Yeah, well, you know, as long as you don’t throw it straight at one person, it’s all right. [He laughs.] It’s a bit mean if you get it wrong and it goes all on one person.
It was a hot July night.
And I must ask you about the cover art for the “Some Girls” album, which was very striking and quite controversial as well.
Yeah, so the cover is like a parody of a wig ad that they were having in women’s magazines. It had that thing. I think it was Peter Corriston who did it. So when you opened it, when it was a 12-inch thing, the faces changed. And it had our faces where the women’s faces were.
But on the original version of it, we had kind of old-fashioned pictures of Hollywood film stars. I think Doris Day was one of them, Joan Crawford and so on. And then we got into some copyright problems with that. Stupidly, nobody in those days was very good at lawyering, and they didn’t get the right permission from the artists. Of course, some people wouldn’t have minded at all.
And then we got into problems and had to change the cover. [He laughs.] It was a big hassle. It was good fun. The cover was really a good cover. We loved it, but unfortunately, we had to change it halfway through. It became slightly disappointing to Charlie and myself, but it still looked funny.
So when you think back on 1978 and this tour and this concert in particular, is it with a lot of affection?
Yeah, I think the album really stands up. It’s a great album, in my opinion, “humbly,” he said. And as you said before, we played quite a lot of it on this show. It’s really new and fresh to you. We hadn’t done it obviously more than a few times. And so you see it just starting to take shape. So I think it’s really interesting.