I’m writing this on a plane, flying back home from California. As my fifteen-year old son would put it, it’s a long-ass flight, close to eleven hours, and I’m only three hours into it. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I have plenty of time to write my upcoming post for Celebrate Life. And yeah, you guessed it right, this one is inspired by my trip, during which I drove about 2000 miles – a hell of a long way, at least by my standards.
One of the highlights of my vacation was visiting my friend and mentor Andrew McCluskey in LA. We hung out together for a couple of days: wrote a song, goofed around and most importantly talked about life. We were wondering about the unpredictability of our time on this planet. As it turned out, neither of our lives had gone exactly according to plan. We both had wanted one thing but had been served something entirely different by fate. We were trying to find a reason why this happens to so many people but to no avail. We decided that life is like a difficult waiter who tells you, ”I know what you ordered sir but this is what you are getting.”
These special dishes come in many different forms. Sometimes you meet the person you really should be with when you are married with children and sometimes, you decide to quit your well-paying job to pursue a passion. It doesn’t matter what your revelation is. What matters is that you follow your heart. In short, we don’t always get what we want but that doesn’t mean that what we are getting is wrong for us. In fact, it seldom is.
Our song of the week, as you probably already guessed, is “You Cannot Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones. This tune is obviously a classic off their Let It Bleed album and needs no introduction. Although originally only an album track and a B-side, it’s a song that has become one of the group’s best-loved numbers. This is partly due to its sing-along chorus no doubt but also owes quite a bit to the poignant message the tune trumpets: “If you try sometime, you find you get what you need.” And frankly speaking, what is there not to like about this magnum opus? The ethereal choir that begins the song, the warm acoustic guitar and the French horn that follow still sound as good as they ever did. In addition, “You Cannot Always Get What You Want” also features one of finest Mick Jagger vocals. I also love the gospel-like harmonies in the chorus, Mick Taylor’s guitar licks and the piano fills by Al Kooper. This is The Stones at their very best and to add a bit of trivia to this post, the drums on this track are not played by Charlie Watts but rather, producer Jimmy Miller. Says Jagger in the book According To The Rolling Stones:
"You Can't Always Get What You Want" was something I just played on the acoustic guitar—one of those bedroom songs. It proved to be quite difficult to record because Charlie couldn't play the groove and so Jimmy Miller had to play the drums. I'd also had this idea of having a choir, probably a gospel choir, on the track, but there wasn't one around at that point. Jack Nitzsche, or somebody, said that we could get the London Bach Choir and we said, "That will be a laugh."
I once asked my father if people usually get what they want. He laughed out loud and said, “No. I’d say people generally do not get what they want.” My dad smiled and told me this joke about fate, unpredictability and disappointment. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. It’s one of those jokes that have been around forever. However, even if you have, here it is again:
A man walks into a bar and orders a drink. While sipping his whiskey he notices a small, gilded box at the end of the bar and inquires about it to the bartender. "You're not quite drunk enough, my friend."
The man thinks it odd but continues to drink. Two more whiskeys later he asks again. "Barkeep! What's in that box at the end of the bar?" Again, the bartender demures, "Sorry buddy. You're not quite there yet."
Two more whiskeys later he is belligerent in his demand. "Barman! What the hell is in that box?" The bartender, seeing the man is not going to let this go replies, "It's a little guy. He plays the piano."
"I've gotta see it!" the man yells and the bartender acquiesces. He opens the box, pulls out a small piano, a small bench and a man, less than a foot tall dressed in a tuxedo. He straightens his tails, flexes his fingers, sits on the bench and begins to play the piano. The patron is astounded.
"Wherever did you find such an amazing man?" He asks.
The bartender replies, "I found a lamp in the alley out back when I was taking out the trash earlier. I bent down and cleaned it up a little when a genie popped out and said he'd grant me one wish. This is what I got."
"What did you do with the lamp?" asked the slightly inebriated man.
"I left it in the alley. I bet it's still there."
The man is up in a flash, out the back door, into the alley. A few moments pass when suddenly a tremendous storm of live ducks comes raging through the bar. They are knocking bottles off the wall, blowing out the windows, crushing through the doors. The rush continues for almost twenty minutes. Finally, a bedraggled, beaten and dirty man stumbles in from the alley and regards the bartender with a look of amazement and disappointment.
"That genie must be hard of hearing! I asked for a billion bucks!"
To which the bartender replied, "Did you really think I asked for a nine-inch pianist?"
Track Sponsor Of The Month: You Are The One by The Impersonators
It was there from the start
When you took my hand
Something no-one could fake
No-one could have planned
You are the one
Your heart is shining down on me
You are my sun
Be mine eternally
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.