An interesting thing to note about the Stones’ songwriting – by the time they started doing it, they’d already experienced several years of intense maniacal fame. Instead of warming up the way most young songwriters do, writing songs about holding-hands-with-girls they moved straight to writing about their immediate lives. Right from the start, they were writing snarky, sarcastic, slightly mean-spirited little critiques of the circles they found themselves in. Nearly all their early originals are complaints about living life surrounded by groupies and sycophants, society wrecks and record label flunkies. Feeling the dehumanizing effects of being an object of worship, the Glimmer Twins lashed out at every possible target. Aftermath, the first all Jagger/Richards penned album, is a vinegary snapshot of what happens when one is catapulted into the high life and finds it an irritating place to be. That theme reached its climax on Between the Buttons, a collection of observations, both humorous and a bit bitter, that the lives of the rich and famous can be empty and undesirable. The Stones rarely get full credit for their songwriting, the riffage, lifestyle and general persona distracting from the quality of the writing itself. I think their songwriting from that period is as interesting if not more, as that of their closest rivals The Beatles, who graduated from calculatedly vapid love songs to drug-induced meandering without taking much note of reality. Not to impugn the brilliance of Lennon and McCartney in any way, but the sheer magnitude of their fame left them isolated from real society, to the point where they essentially disappeared into an environment of their own creation, a bubble for four. The Beatles canon is basically inward-gazing, as none of the four had much to say about their surroundings. It’s not to them that you can turn for insight on how it must have felt to inhabit Swinging London at its height. That’s where we encounter Jagger’s under-appreciated strength. According to him, Swinging London was populated by posers, lackeys, fame-diggers and the walking dead. Arrogantly taking shots at the so-called beautiful people, he draws a cynical picture of life at the poppermost. Apparently, being tailed by hordes of gawping admirers isn’t all that much fun after all.