Musical palate cleanser, what a drag it is getting old edition

Sigh.  I can tell it’s gonna take a while to get over this.

Honestly, I thought briefly of posting the entire Stones catalog as today’s MPC.  Hell, there isn’t a song of theirs that you can’t point to Charlie’s skill on — this morning’s NPR obit played a short instrumental clip from “Gimme Shelter” as if to prove that exact point — but, yeah, that might be a tad excessive.  So, I’ll rein it in a bit.

If there’s ever a Stones song that makes me play air drums, it’s “Rocks Off”, from Exile.  Listen to the way Watts announces his presence three seconds in and then proceeds to lay it down and drive the song along.

I love that fill after “I was making love last night…”, but what really kills is how he steps back in after the druggy “It’s all mesmerized, all that inside me” to propel Mick’s “The sunshine bores the daylights out of me”.  It’s as if he gave the band a chance to catch their collective breaths, and then bam!, off to the races again.  But it’s never out of control because Charlie never did out of control.

I suppose all roads lead back to the quintessential “Honky Tonk Women” and there, for me, after the combination of Mick’s sleazy strutting, the guitars, the absolutely wonderful horn play, it all comes together at the end with a perfect conclusion from Charlie.

That whap! whap! whap! at the end is the exclamation point to Mick’s “Whooo!”  There’s no other way it could have finished.

I’ll leave you with a live version of “All Down The Line”, from Martin Scorsese’s Shine a Light.  It’s a jaw dropping exercise from a man in his sixties.


You can use this video to nerd out on Charlie’s legendarily spartan Gretsch drum kit or his mythological technique: the grip changes, the snare hits closer to the logo than the center, or Steve Albini’s observation that Charlie never hits the snare and the high hat at the same time, which “moves the focus away from the pulse and onto the gait of his playing.” (Steve is unverified, but he starts out by describing Charlie as “the only good thing about the Rolling Stones,” so it’s him.) Or you can thrill to the fleeting and blurry antics of Mick and Keith, who peacock in and out of the frame, first-name-basis pantheon rock stars who nonetheless clearly defer to their far more stoic pantheon rock star drummer. “Charlie Watts has always been the bed that I lie on musically,” Keith notes in his 2010 memoir Life, reviewing 1963 diary entries in which he marvels as his outlandishly stylish new drummer morphs from a Jazz Guy to a Rock ’n’ Roll Guy who still swings with the magnificent swagger of a Jazz Guy.

Or you could just watch the boys blaze through all five minutes of “All Down the Line” and marvel that Charlie himself, comically regal and already long past retirement age in the late 2000s, is never out of breath, even if he allows himself one puffed-cheek sigh when the song’s over, which might be the only time I’ve ever seen him acknowledge the Herculean effort of anything he’s ever done.



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29 responses to “Musical palate cleanser, what a drag it is getting old edition

  1. ApalachDawg aux Bruxelles



  2. akascuba

    Great sadness for the loss of the irreplaceable force of the man behind the drums who pleased so many for so long. I hope he knew how much joy he was part of bringing to so many world wide.

    Paint it black today.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The Stones were a cut above, mostly due to Watts laying down the beat. He was Legend. Great tribute Senator, as expected. RIP Charlie!


  4. Almost in tears. Rocks off has always been my favorite Stones jam;)
    Great tribute. Thank you Senator.

    Thank you Charlie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. KingMackeral

    Holy Smokes — the All Down the Line video was amazing to watch. I did love the last piece where he exhaled and finally caught his breath.

    As we move forward in life, I am not sure we will ever come back to some of the great songs / acts us old farts grew up with. I really try and keep my mind open to new musical genres (it helps me stay in touch with my daughters) but I cannot help but reminisce on the “way it was”.

    It is simply not the same and I do not have confidence it will be appreciated to the point of resurgence.

    Just my $.02



    • gastr1

      The Stones are so entirely different musically so it would be easy to miss it: Stephen Morris (Joy Division, New Order) is to 80s New Wave what Watts was to classic blues-rock drumming. Never say never.


  6. Bruce Talgo

    I’d throw Street Fighting Man into that conversation. Of course, there were many others.


  7. cowetadawg

    Excellent choices; though I’d have happily listened to the whole catalog.
    My air drums song is Shattered.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Scotty King

    “Get Off Of My Cloud” and “Beast Of Burden” would be a couple of other standouts. I love the way he builds up ballads like “Fool To Cry” or “Memory Motel”.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Salty Dawg

    That picture is gut wrenching to me. Very poignant. Thank you, Charlie. RIP

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I wore out my Some Girls album back in the day, and like I mentioned weeks ago when it was announced Charlie was sick, that I went to the Steel Wheels tour in Birmingham in 89. The longevity of Charlie and this band is simply amazing.

    So many memories tied in with their music for so many of us over the years…RIP Charlie

    Liked by 1 person

  11. NotMyCrossToBear

    I love to see a football player score a touchdown and act like they’ve been there before. Charlie always played like that. He was one of the best and didn’t have to show off or attract attention to validate himself. He just did the work.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. David D

    I’ve had my share of personal loss this year. Of course I never knew Charlie Watts, but once again this feels personal. RIP, CW.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. rugbydawg79

    RIP He was great.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. boz864

    One of the things I did during last years lock down was go through various artists catalogs and create a “best of” playlist of songs from each album. Each song had to be special – one that you’d never want to fast forward or skip no matter how many times you played the song. I don’t even know that I finished the Stones playlist but I just checked and it’s over 5.5 hours and 72 songs. They have so many deep cuts, even in their albums that for the most part aren’t very good IMO (see much of 80s/90s releases). Anytime someone wants to debate greatest Rock band of all time, I present that catalog… many bands came along and looked like they would challenge the GOAT, but just didn’t sustain.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Don in Mar-a-Lago

    Liked by 2 people

  16. shellbine

    To put things in perspective–Charlie Watts joined the Stones in 1963, one year before a young coach named Vince Dooly joined UGA.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. artistformerlyknownasbman

    He once said on a 60 Minutes interview, when asked what everyone’s roles were, that Keith was the leader, the heart. Mick was the greatest front man in the world, and Ronnie was the soloist, who was very nice, with good humor and comfortable to be around, which is important in a band. His role was simply to keep the time and help everyone else do what they do.

    He was a gracious as he was talented.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. When I think of Watts, I think of his expression at the 2:53 mark:

    Liked by 1 person

    • RangerRuss

      When I saw the Stones and Mick was going all flickted as he was wont to do, the big screen zoomed in on Keith easing over to Charlie and Mr Watts gave Keith a little wink. It felt as if we were all in on a little joke.
      Brings a smile to my face even now.
      RIP and thanks Charlie Watts.

      Liked by 4 people

  19. PTC DAWG

    Poignant comes to mind re Keith’s Twitter Post.


  20. 123 Fake St

    Legends never die.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. benco04

    The thing I always loves about Watts is that he seemed genuinely bemused by it all. Like he was watching the The Rolling Stones show like the rest of us. Except he was driving the band the whole time.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Bulldawg Bill

    “One Hit(to the Body)”… my favorite Stones song. It rocks powerfully, struts unabashedly and generally kicks ass. Would make a good hype video.


  23. Another great stones song that starts off with a great beat…is Paint it Black…sort of appropriate for the mood too

    Liked by 1 person