I think I bought "Start Me Up" at the time it came out, and they seemed ancient at the time. I remember hearing it in the car somewhat recently and I said to my wife "They sound ancient in this song but they were younger than I am now." Even in '81 or whenever it was, they seemed from another era, even the way they looked — although they lived life hard and were incredibly haggard and wrinkled. But yeah, I was a big fan of the Stones — all phases, really. And as long as I can remember them as a living memory and an active band, they've always been these sort of leftovers of a previous era. And it's always nostalgia, it's always a greatest hits tour.
RIGHT — BUT REMEMBER, THIS 1989 TOUR I'M TALKING ABOUT, IT WASN'T JUST A HITS TOUR, IT WAS, AT THE TIME, THE BIGGEST AND MOST LUCRATIVE WORLD TOUR OF ALL TIME — OF ANYONE EVER! PEOPLE MY AGE, DID WE FUCK UP? WHY WERE WE LISTENING TO THAT WHEN WE COULD HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO SOMETHING NEW? I DON'T REGRET LISTENING TO THE STONES, BUT WAS I PART OF A COHORT THAT SETTLED FOR THE SAFE BET? LIKE THE STONES COME THROUGH TOWN, WE KNOW IT'S GOING TO RULE, BUT IF SOME NEW BAND PLAYS TOWN, IT'S AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY. AND NOWADAYS WE'RE ALL WAITING FOR, I DUNNO, PITCHFORK TO GIVE THEM AN 8.5 BEFORE WE'LL DIP OUR TOES IN THE WATER.
When I got into music, there weren't that many nostalgia options available because the history wasn't that extensive. And I think at that point nobody wanted to check out nostalgia bands; '60s bands wound up in the cabaret circuit doing greatest hits sets and that was nothing that a young person would want to check out. But I think the Stones were one of the first groups to pioneer this thing of becoming a living institution, and they'd do these spectacular high-tech shows, and the tickets were really expensive but you'd see this great show and see these great songs, and they were one of the most famous groups in the world. The Beatles didn't exist, and who else was there? I dunno, I guess the Kinks were an active band, but they weren't anywhere near the level of the Stones.
I interviewed J Mascis once — he's an odd interview, and you kind of have to just sort of chit-chat with him. And we were talking, and he was talking about how he felt that he had to see all these big acts, like "You need to see Sinatra," or "You need to see the Stones." And he was telling me about how he took some plane flight to see the Stones and about what an amazing show it was. And I can understand it, these people are immense and all, and I can totally see why someone would go see one of these Stones shows, and I can see why young people listen to the Beatles and the Stones and Led Zeppelin, listening to the same music as their parents — and even their grandparents, at this point! And it's not even that different from a lot of current music, it's still recognizably the same idiom as the White Stripes or any other modern rock group that you'll hear on the radio. I mean, why wouldn't someone listen to the Beatles?