I’ve always misheard it as ‘savory truffle’ and that makes more sense to me. These chocolate flavors that are being described are alien to me. Must be an English thing. This is far from being one of George Harrison’s most towering achievements, but it does show his cheeky humor. Apparently Harrison wrote it to poke fun at Eric Clapton’s sweet tooth, and subsequent cavities. Which shows once again that one of the Beatles’ great strengths, collectively, was their ability to mine inspiration out of literally anything. A child’s doodle? Hit song. A poster on the wall? Hit song. Box of chocolates? Not exactly a huge hit, but definitely a song. It takes a childlike level of joie de vivre to see so much inspiration in the world. The world is a box of wonders and everything in it is there for your artistic fueling.
I sense an element of irony in the Rolling Stones’ exhortation to drink to all of the hard working people. The Stones don’t care about anything but themselves. They’ve never bothered much with pretending to be socially conscious or politically active, except for some vague up-against-the-man posturing. They did all come from working-class backgrounds, so there’s that, but they pretty quickly established themselves as their own class of doped-up aristocracy. “Do we look strange to you?” they ask, hoping for a resounding yes. I don’t really want self-awareness from The Rolling Stones; I like to imagine them communing with demons and occupying a space-time bubble far removed from us peasants. They certainly occupied their own world in 1968, into which this is only a cracked glimpse.
Did you know that The Beatles were a rock band? They invented feedback! Actually, no. In fact, The Beatles weren’t really a rock band in the sense that The Rolling Stones were a rock band, which is to say that they weren’t a blues band. They took musical cues from a wide array of sources, but the blues wasn’t really one of them. So there aren’t actually all that many Beatles songs that, you know, rock, in the sense of rock being rhythm-driven blues-based music. This is one of those few, and it makes you wish there were more. If they had managed to tolerate one another for a few years longer than they did, maybe they would have leaned into it more heavily. That would have been a really interesting direction to go in, but alas.
Let Pink Floyd set you up for an afternoon of childhood nostalgia. If your childhood nostalgia actually involves listening to Pink Floyd, all the better. Even if not, it’s the perfect mood piece for reminiscing, or daydreaming, or just dozing. It’s just great mood music. If you have drugs, good. If you have a mimosa, good. If you have a nice cup of tea, good. If you don’t have any of those things, maybe think about going back to bed.
I’ve had the CSN&Y version of this song stuck in my head quite a bit. Those guys really had some amazing harmonies. You can make fun of them for their mustaches choices, or dislike their fanbase, but you can’t dismiss those harmonies. But honestly, I actually like the Buffalo Springfield version a little better. It’s not as catchy, and definitely not as harmonious, but it sounds more like a proper rock song. It sounds scruffy, which I like.
The Rolling Stones recently made a blues album, their first straight-up blues album since the 60’s. The Stones can do their thing in their sleep at this point, so the question is not whether or not it’s a good album. The question is, once again, whether the Rolling Stones are the greatest living blues band or just a pastiche of one. Back in the day, when every other band was a blues band, the Stones were – arguably – the best of the bunch; now they’re among the last of their breed. The question remains, though: is it really the blues? If it’s a bunch of middle class white guys from the suburbs of London? What if it’s a bunch of elderly white guys who are richer than God? Can they achieve authenticity through sheer bloody-mindedness and depravity? The answer in 1968 was, I think, very much yes. What the Rolling Stones did was very authentic, although perhaps not in the way they intended. It never really sounded like real American blues, but it was believably enough its perverted English cousin. It was blues unique to its time and situation, born from the unique angst of its creators. Are the Rolling Stones still the greatest living blues band, despite being obscenely wealthy old men? Given that not many people are much given to either playing or hearing the blues these days, yes. The Stones still play the blues as though their ability to master the blues could still impress people.
Janis Joplin presents, the unpopular girl’s lament. This song, if you haven’t noticed, is exceedingly masochistic. Disturbingly so. Especially coming from Joplin, whose entire identity seems to have stemmed from the pain of growing up homely and unpopular in a bourgeois small Texas town, where she was bullied and mocked for her looks. Despite her outwardly tough ‘bawdy blues mama’ persona, Joplin struggled with crippling insecurity, which led to the alcohol and drug consumption that killed her. It was also, of course, what made her such an outstanding blues singer. When Joplin begged for a scrap of love from the stage, she was begging from the bottom of her heart. She famously described her performing life as making love to thousands of people only to go home alone. Which is incredibly sad, as is the fact that Joplin’s success as an artist was unbreakably intertwined with her inability to be a functional person. One can imagine that if she had managed to get the drugs out of her system, come to terms with herself, and found a fulfilling relationship, she may have quit singing and gone back to being a painter. As it were, though, she just spent a brief moment exemplifying the long sufferin’ woman of lore, the one who takes on all the abuse the world gives her and keeps on plowin’, just hoping to earn the love of one good man, or even a shitty one, anybody really, just for a minute. Sad.