It is one of the few Rolling Stones albums I own that was not released when I was alive and aware of it. It is not related to concerts, it’s not one of their ample live albums. Nor is it from my father’s cd collection, which I inherited.
Exile on Main Street.
I have a 2010 double cd edition, and the sole reason I bought it is because the way it came about is illusive, and well documented too. I remember seeing an entire documentary although I have no idea where I saw it, it’s not on YouTube, currently.
The story of this album is what brought me to buy it.
At the time of the recording, The Stones were facing several professional, legal and financial adversities and trauma. They had shifted gears and had started their own record company, but things were far from settled.
The fate of The Stones was standing on the edge of a knife and the recording was a serious business undertaking.
Yet despite of that – or should we conclude “BECAUSE of that”? – at the Villa Nellcôte in the south of France where they were to write and record this album, numerous people stayed and visited, outside the band.
Socializing and fun were as much part of the recording process as writing and recording was.
from The Guardian:
“People appeared, disappeared, no one had a last name, you didn’t know who anybody was,” remembers Robert Greenfield, who was at Nellcôte to interview Keith Richards for Rolling Stone.
“There were 16 people for lunch, and lunch went on for three-and-a-half hours. It was an unparalleled cast of characters.”
There were the people who were with the band, most notably Keith’s partner Anita Pallenberg and their son Marlon. There were fellow musicians, other artists, groupies, technicians, record executives, journalists, and a drug dealer with his entire family.
I’m sure it raised eyebrows even then, but through a 2021 productivity obsessed-lens, the entire scene is downright unthinkable.
And yet, in particular in today’s age, it is so important to realize that chaos and creation always go together.
Chaos and art, always go together.
What lasts through the ages, is what was forged in the heat of something.
One of the things that has been torturing my brain, it’s like a puzzle that doesn’t seem to have an answer, is:
“Where is the art?”
With so many YouTube creators, instagram photographers, online storytellers and offline crafters and handworkers, more than ever before;
WHERE is the ART?!
Statistically speaking, something must have, should have, emerged by now.
And I m going to keep it to fields I know that if something happened there I would have known,
but here we go:
The yoga teacher who is an artist should have emerged.
The blogger who turns out to be the greatest writer of our age, should be known.
The YouTuber who is a performance artist, should be known.
In other words:
The Rolling Stones of our era, should be known.
Yet they are not….
A few weeks ago, I got into a very deep conversation about this, and ever since then the question of two decades of artists missing in action has been on my mind.
And the only solid explanation I had so far, was that the monetizable-ness of these new media has resulted in :
– creations directly being monetized by the creator (f.e. YouTube videos)
– creations supporting services or products that are sold (f.e. writing to sell your product or service)
– creations being shared to create a relationship with your audience
So the creations are very outcome based, whether for dollars or for likes.
And who can blame them, those savvy creators who no longer live hand over fist, but make their own living and absolutely thrive!
From a humanist point of view it’s all good. There has been an artistic revolution where creators can finally live of what they create, either
– from advertising revenue
– selling their art directly,
– by piggybacking selling a product or service onto their art
– or by establishing their own audience, their own fan base.
From the perspective of personal happiness and success, internet has revolutionized art. But, as was on my mind for the past few weeks, it also seems to have taken something from us….
Both collectively, as well as on an individual level.
Because I believe that we have not seen “the real” art, in the mediums I mentioned.
It’s comparable to the middle ages:
Painters were seen as craftsmen. What woodworkers and leather workers did with wood and leather, they did with paint.
But during the renaissance, painters became artists:
Individual and unique creators.
Modern media is the medieval guild of the artists of today and tomorrow.
And they make a good living there.
The media provide a safe umbrella, just like the guilds did.
This topic, of the nature of art in relationship to modern media, had been on my mind for a while. And I was done thinking about it.
Until today when I encountered Exile on Main Street again, and noticed the difference in work routine then and now! It was so vastly different to what we are used to.
I think for the ones who are called, it would be a very interesting experiment to test our lives in those artistic rock star circumstances of Villa Nellcôte.
Circumstances under which all our routines are broken, and the only thing that comes out of it, is the thing that was created right there and then.
The thing that was forged in the heat of laughter, music, jokes;
Of excess, drama, tension.
Art is not born by creating space for it, in neatly weekly intervals and by planning your days in advance.
It is not born at eight thirty AM on Monday morning.
But because you were without guild, without fans, without support, without structure, in a situation that is as chaotic as it is inspiring.
If you want to make a good living of your art, by all means, structure your life.
You are living in the age where financial freedom for artists is more accessible than ever.
But if you want to discover if there is any art left in you?
If you want to discover if you are an artist or not?
Unleash yourself. Strip away everything that can be stripped away.
Break all pattern, all routines, and say yes to everything and everybody at your doorstep.
And the art will come.
Rock Star Writer
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