Well, office Christmas parties are just round the corner, which means that it’s a good week to talk about affairs. Yes, I know – Merry Christmas! Ho, ho, ho! But wait, it gets worse. Believe it or not, over here in Scandinavia some employers even send their employees on a two-day Christmas cruise – as if one night wouldn’t be enough to stray from the straight and narrow!
No, but seriously, the concept of affairs is fascinating. While on the one hand, people condone affairs; on the other, they are not uncommon at all. This has led me to conclude that affairs are a bit like McDonalds. When asked, people will tell you that it’s not something they like to indulge in. Yet, McDonalds is one of the most popular restaurants in the world. And from what I’ve been witnessing so far during my forty-six years on the planet, the same logic can be applied to affairs. While McDonalds is thriving in the fast-food business thanks to our appetite for unhealthy foods, it’s our disappointment in marriage that will continue to make sure affairs are never out of fashion. In fact, nowadays, finding a secret lover is easier than ever before. All you need to do is register to one of the popular dating sites for the married and attached, the most popular of which, the now notorious Victoria Milan, lures people in by asking them basically just two questions:
Trapped in a monotonous relationship?
Miss feeling passion and excitement?
And of course, when nobody’s looking, most of us don’t ask, “How dare you?” Rather we ask, “Where do I sign up?” And at the end of the day, I suppose rather than judging, you have to ask which one is better, getting depressed and disillusioned in a hateful relationship or surviving a hateful relationship by finding some sunshine on the side. Let’s say you chose the latter option (don’t worry quite a few people do), there is still one thing you have to worry about: getting caught. This is what makes extramarital affairs tricky and dangerous. You can lose it all at the drop of your hat: the kids, your home, a half of your assets etc. And it’s this scary thought that brings us to our track of the week, “Can’t Be Seen” by The Rolling Stones.
It’s partly amusing that “Can’t Be Seen,” which is about having an affair, is on The Stones’ brilliant Steel Wheels, since this is the album that brought Mick Jagger and Keith Richards back together. They had both had their little flings with their solo careers and they had both worked with other musicians and yes, they had both come to the same inevitable conclusion that while that was all well and good, it was high time for them to come back home and make another kick-ass Stones album, which is exactly what the Glimmer Twins did.
Unsure of their ability to write together, Jagger and Richards met up in Barbados in 1988 to quietly test the waters. They quickly discovered that the old chemistry was still there and in just a matter of days, they churned out dozens of new songs. However, the reunion wasn’t all about just writing new material, it was also about becoming friends again. Explains Richards:
I did have to take Mick to a few discos – which are not my favorite places in the world – because Mick likes to go out and dance at night. So I did that. That was my sacrifice. I humored him. And that's when I knew we could work together.
“Can’t Be Seen” has one of the best Keith Richards vocals and it’s a great track in other ways as well: the band is playing together tighter than ever, the signature guitar riffs and licks are awesome, the melody is definitely one of Keith’s better ones and yes, it’s too bad that Bill Wyman isn’t with the Stones anymore, as he is one hell of a bass player. By the way, Steel Wheels was the first Stones album, during the recording of which, Charlie Watts played to the click track. Initially, Jagger, in particular, had worried about how recording drums this way was going to work. Well, those worries turned out to be groundless. As soon as the group began laying down the basic tracks, it became clear to everyone that with or without the click track, Charlie Watts is in a league of his own.
The lyrics of the track describe well the stress that comes from having an affair.
I just can't be seen with you
I admit it anyway
I just got obscene with you
I don't stand a chance with you
I never did anyway
I can't even sleep with you
I'd always be awake
I just can't be seen with you
It's for your own sake
You're better off anyway
It's too dangerous baby
It's too dangerous
It's too dangerous
The end of the song finds Richards singing to an almost hypnotic groove, “I got to chill this thing with you” – if only it was that easy, Keith. This brings to mind something my grandfather once told me about affairs. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Remember son, affairs are very easy to get in to but nearly impossible to get out of without getting caught. Never forget that.”
To end on a more positive or perhaps even slightly amusing note, here’s something I’m sure you wouldn’t have guessed. And no, this has nothing to do with affairs but since I dragged one of my favorite burger joints into this in my opening, I want to share with you a bit of trivia about McDonalds. It has just come to my knowledge that regardless of all the fine foods in Paris, the world's most popular McDonalds is located on the Champs-Elysees. I just read an article about this (link below). If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.
Here’s a thought. Perhaps, it’s time for all of us to let go of our “ideal selves” for just a minute and admit a few things. And even if it’s nothing more serious than the fact that we don’t just like McDonalds but that we are in fact “loving it,” it’s a good start.
In case you are interested in the McDonalds article. Here’s the link:
Track Sponsor Of The Month: Effigy by The Impersonators
“Effigy” describes that moment in all our lives, when we realize that we‘ve grown tired of protecting our ego, that moment when we are done worrying about how we appear to others. Rather than wanting to be cool or important, we want to be happy and discover our true identity. And the best way to achieve this is to kill our ego.
You can learn more about The Rolling Stones here:
About the curator - Tommi Tikka
Tom Tikka is a linguist, poet, professional songwriter, recording artist and a music aficionado. He started playing guitar when he was four and writing songs when he was six. Consequently, he doesn't remember a time when he wasn't playing or writing. It's fair to say, music and lyrics are not just something he loves to engage himself in; to him, they are a way of life.