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Shine A Light - Mick Jagger interview

Shine A Light

Compiled by Jack Foley

MICK Jagger talks about working with Martin Scorsese on Rolling Stones doc Shine A Light (released on DVD on November 3, 2008), as well as how he went about choosing the special guests for the performances, and why he feels songs can’t change the world.

Q. How does it feel being a film star again, Mick?
Mick Jagger: Well, we don’t do films. It was really funny doing our press conference at the Berlin Film Festival. It was much more serious than our usual press conferences. I remember saying to Keith: “That was quite serious…” because Marty Scorsese has these quite serious film conversations with the press. But added to that, all the questions were from these odd places, geographically and mentally. Normally, our press conferences are one-line jokes but I guess Marty doesn’t do one-liners!

Q. Watching the film at the premiere, did you learn anything new about your performance?
Mick Jagger: I watched it all the way through at the premiere but, when I watch it now, I can’t help thinking: “I wish we’d changed that bit.” Or: “Oh, we should have left that bit out.” Or: “I wished we’d put that bit back in!” But I knew what was going on. I knew what we were doing. You have to put a different hat on. You start off with the movie idea and then you’re the performer, so of course things always surprise you. You wouldn’t be human otherwise. You’d be very jaded.

Q. How did it feel to see the footage of you as a young man, saying you could still see yourself touring in your 60s?
Mick Jagger: Well, there you go! It’s funny looking back, because you’d expect me to have said the opposite, wouldn’t you? But the reality is I immediately say: “Yes.”

Q. Would you like to make more films, as producer or actor?
Mick Jagger: I have one movie coming out in October, which is called The Women. It’s a remake of the George Cuckor movie of the 1940s, a very famous movie with only women in it, Joan Crawford was in it, and no men. Even the dog is a woman! I don’t know how I became involved in it really. It’s directed by Diane English and it comes out in the Autumn, with Annette Bening, Bette Midler, Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes, an amazing cast.

Q. Why did you stop your career acting?
Mick Jagger: As you get older, you don’t get many great parts. But I got a good part yesterday so you never know.

Q. What is it?
Mick Jagger: I can’t tell you exactly. But you never know what you are going to get when you walk down the red carpet and someone says: “You should be in the movies!”

Q. What’s the situation with the Stones and Universal?
Mick Jagger: Well, they’re putting out the audio CD that accompanies the film which comes out the same week as the theatrical release. It sounds fantastic. They are putting that out. That’s just a one off deal so we don’t have any idea what happens after that.

Q. How did you decide who should be your guests in the film?
Mick Jagger: Well, we always have guests in shows anyway. In The Isle of Wight, Amy Winehouse was our guest. So you look at them and think ‘Now who’s going to fit in? Who’s going to be able to do this due, doing a performance and have a different appeal to the audience?’ We thought Buddy Guy was a great person to have. We’d played with him before. Jack White had already opened the show for us on many occasions, so we knew him. It’s always best to have people you know rather than the unknown. But Christina Aguilera has got a fantastic voice and lot of friends of mine told me she was very professional. You want someone who’ll turn up and deliver. She was the only one we didn’t know, so I thought that was a really good balance. I think it really worked in the end.

Q. Neil Young said the other day that he’d lost faith in the fact that songs could change the world…
Mick Jagger: Well, that’s a stupid idea anyway, isn’t it? The idea that a song can change the world. Where did that come up somewhere else? As I’ve said one song isn’t going to ever change things, one political statement isn’t, but I suppose that it’s the accumulation of music generally. If you can imagine a world that has no music in it, it would be a very different world, so music does change the world by virtue of all the music in it. Cumulative music of every kind, from banging a drum to playing a flute or recording symphonies, or singing ‘War, what is it good for?’ All those things change the whole way we live and because we have so much more music available to us now than our grandparents did, the world must be a different place to be in.

Q. Keith said he sometimes feels elevated during a concert…
Mick Jagger: Yes. Of course. Music should elevate you. You can be raised, or left stranded. You can’t be raised all the time, in my experience. This might be a rare moment. You might just go up to that level but that’s always good.

Q. Where do you live these days?
Mick Jagger: I’m living all over the place. I don’t know. I’m a musician. I’m living around.

Read our review of Shine A Light