Friday, February 18, 2011
Rock and Roll, the ancient art of weaving
Keith Richards and Ron Wood refer to their work together as the Stones’ guitarists as practicing “the ancient art of weaving;” I take this to mean that as they play they are actively listening to each other’s sonic productions and responding, creating a material object of sound comprised of the combination of their lines. This indicates that for them, sound is material, tactile, haptic; they can hear their lines and riffs intertwining the way handworkers can feel the textures and directions of their yarns or threads. The use of this metaphor, which does not appear in the ways in which, for example, African American jazz musicians refer to their active listening-and-responding methods, indicates the degree to which, for all their love of the Blues, the Stones are fundamentally a British band (and Richards has wanted to keep it this way throughout the many years and shifts in personnel in the band’s history), ultimately taking refuge in language that reflects a stable rural/domestic identity with a history of guilds, craftsmens’ communities and associational forms, workers’ institutions, and labor politics.