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Memory Motel: Rehearsals

A week earlier and the boys were still arguing. “Three hours?” Keith asked, a scowl on his face. “We are not  Bruce Springsteen.”

“Concerts here can last a year.” Mick replied.

“We won’t be here, will we. We will be there. And our audience will be human. And we are a smooth hard rock and blues  machine and it isn’t our job to bore our fucking audience into joining us in the fucking afterlife.”

“It’s only three hours, Keith. With the stamina we have now, we can do it all at the very height of our energy, we won’t lag, man. We won’t stop. We’re not eighty years old, we can bring it to a whole other level. We are the best we’ve ever been, there is no better than the Stones are today and we need to show it. It needs to be beyond big. It needs to the Stones of all ages not just one age, a changing with every song Rolling Stones revisiting the best moments of our lives the way we were when we recorded the, We need to do something so huge that every aspect of the Stones, our entire history, will be encapsulated, everything that is possible as ghosts, or spirits, or things of pure thought needs to be used so huge that it explodes…”

“No fucking way, Mick. That’s not we want. Just the heart of the band, if Bill Wyman croaks in time we will add him in on bass. Mick can be a third guitar, Brian a utility man, Keyes on sax, Preston on keyboards and that is it and we won’t play games. We will go out and we will show em exactly what the Stones need to be the greatest.”

“Brian? What do we want Brian for?”

“You think we shouldn’t have Brian.”

“There was a reason we fired him, you know.”

“Of course I know, Mick, I was with you when we decided. But I don’t think his drug addiction is a problem any more.”

“No Brian.”

“No Brian, no Keith.”

“That is absolutely insane. How are we gonna learn all these songs to include Brian.”

“You want to play them as a thousand different Rolling Stones, but you are worried about Brian.”

“No Brian.”

“I quit.”

Susan and Fatou sat on a sofa knocking back Southern Comfort while this was going on. “Do you want to, or shall I?” Susan asked.

“I will, I handle hear, you handle there.” But before Fatou could do anything about it the two men were standing toe to toe, and suddenly they weren’t 20 something rock stars, they were ten year old boys brawling on the floor of Keith’s mansion, arms flaying, fists flying, they bit and crawled and by the time the two women had separated them, they were bloody nosed, ripped shirt bawling like babies, too upset to change back for a moment.

“Will you please… how did you guys ever work together?” Then a piercing scream. “WILL YOU STOP…”

Susan began to laugh quietly under her breath. “I don’t see anything so funny.”

“No, no, of course. Why don’t you A Christmas Carol em,…”

“What do you mean…?”

“’Long past? No you’re past….’”

“Ok guys, grow up and watch this. This will show you the errors of your ways…”

Mick and Keith were in their 40s, sitting on a sofa, with Susan between them and Fatou was standing up, like the teacher in a math class, pointing at not a screen but a scene. Keith and Mick in Mick’s house, 1961, they are both seventeen years old, they aren’t talking, Mick is lying on the floor, his knees bent and eyes closed, Keith is sitting in a chair leading on the dining room table, Muddy Waters is singing “I Just Want To Make Love To You”. Mick looks up, “I know that harmonica part…”

Keith stares in wonder at his friend. “How did you learn it?” He asked.

“Same way you learnt that…” Mick laughed, pointing at Keith’s guitar still in its case by the door, “and I bet it took just as long.”

They listened in silence.

Finally Keith said, “How are we meant to do this in London? London lacks the soul of America, we ain’t slaves and we aint had women do us all that wrong, all that anything. How can we play the blues when we aren’t all that blue.”

“We might not be blue but we do have soul and our life is as happy or sad as experiences that are much more dramatic. Muddy moved to Chicago you know, Mississippi might be too big for us but Chicago is a big city like London is. And he has been here, we maybe could’ve seen him when he played two years ago, if we we could’ve maybe we could’ve gone and actually met him. If we could breathe the same air why can’t we play what we love?”

“Late For Fried Eggs And Beans On Toast Blues?”

The friends laughed and Mick said “I’ll ask Mummy to set another place for supper.”

Keith went to Mick’s album collection, he was thin, pimply, with a gangly coolness that seemed in abeyance but ready to expand. He lacked self-consciousness, he seemed the embodiment of something that didn’t exists yet. He pulled out Chuck Berry Is on Top.  Mick came back in, “Now this we can play, right Mike? ‘Don’t bother me leave me alone?”, we know those feelings.

“We do indeed, how about “Anthony Boy”, can you do that solo?”

“I think I can do it, put it on again.”

Mick put the needle back to the middle and began to sing a capella and then Keith tried the solo. “What the hell is the key?”

“It doesn’t matter, Keith just get the notes right…”

“Ok,  play it again…” Bum note. “And again…”

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