A supreme achiever to whom his colossal achievements seem to mean nothing....
A supreme extrovert who prefers discretion.....
A supreme egotist who dislikes talking about himself....
Philip Norman has long towered above other rock biographers with his definitive studies of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Buddy Holly, and John Lennon - legends whom the world thought it knew, but who came to life as never before through the meticulousness of Norman's research, the sweep of his cultural knowledge, and the brilliance of his writing.
Now Norman turns to a rock icon who is the most notorious yet enigmatic of them all. Throughout five decades of fronting the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger has been seen as the ultimate arrogant, narcissistic superstar, whose sexual appetite and cavalier treatment of women rival Casanova's and whose supposed reckless drug use touched off the most famous scandal in rock history. Now a grandfather nearing 70 and a British knight of the realm, he still creates excitement at the mere mention of his name; still remains the model for every young rock singer who ever takes the stage.
Norman shows Jagger to be a character far more complex than the cold archseducer of myth: human, vulnerable, often impressive, sometimes endearing. Here at last is the real story of how the Stones' brilliant first manager, Andrew Oldham, transformed a shy economics student named Mike Jagger into a modern Antichrist...of Jagger's vicious show trial and imprisonment on minuscule drug charges in 1967...his remarkable feat at the Stones' Hyde Park concert in making a quarter of a million people keep quiet and listen to poetry...his unpublicized heroic role at the Altamont festival that brought the sunny sixties to a horrific end...the cavalcade of beautiful women from Chrissie Shrimpton to Jerry Hall, whom he has bedded but not always dominated... the enduring but ever-fraught partnership with his "Glimmer Twin", Keith Richards.
While playful about some aspects of Sir Mick, Norman gives him long overdue credit as a songwriter, whose "Sympathy for the Devil" is one of the few truly epic pop singles, and as a harmonica player fit to rank among the great blues masters who inspired the Stones before money became their raison d'etre.
Mick Jagger, above all, explores the keen and calculating intelligence that has kept the Stones on their plinth as "the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band" for half a century.
©2012 Jessica Productions Ltd. (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
First off, the narrator is one of the worst I've ever heard. His accent is maddening; he sounds like a robotic Robin Leach. He often mispronounces words and names, sometimes pronouncing them differently from one instance to the next.
Despite being a longtime fan of the Rolling Stones’ music, I have never had a high opinion of them as men. Jagger’s treatment of women, business partners, colleagues, and supposed friends will not impress anyone with any moral standards. Philip Norman seems overeager to give Jagger credit for the instances when he is NOT contemptible, as for the fact that all of Jagger’s children seem to be genuinely fond of him. In the absence of cooperation and input from Jagger himself, Norman surmises too much: “This was the most horrible experience of Jagger’s life, no matter what he may say himself (paraphrased).” Norman repeatedly refers to the Redlands drug bust as the most “terrifying” time of Jagger’s life, despite showing no evidence that Jagger considered it terrifying. Norman repeatedly refers to the Stones with ludicrous superlatives. Everything they have gone through is either the worst or the best or the most or the least that any rock band has ever gone through, with the occasional exception of the Beatles. Such declarations might have been less ridiculous in 1972, but 40 years later, there have been a huge number of bands and celebrities, and it’s doubtful that the Stones’ experiences always qualify as the most extreme.
Norman is obsessed with Jagger’s lips and mouth to an annoying, disturbing, almost fetishistic degree. It is the mouth that Jagger was born with, after all, before the days of surgically inflated clown lips. Norman is also fixated on Jagger’s “girlish,” flat midriff.
Norman’s attempts at humor are puerile and irritating. His tone alternates between sniggering envy and smug condescension. I expected a more mature perspective in the year 2012, but the book reminds me of those written 30 years ago by rock “journalists” who obviously just worshipped the Stones. Norman’s writing about the Stones’ music and Jagger’s vocals in particular are uninteresting and absolutely excruciating to listen to as the narrator attempts to enunciate Norman’s apparently phonetic writing of Jagger’s drawn out, fake Cockney and blues accents. This narrator, while bad enough already, is nearly unbearable when reading or “performing” Jagger himself.
One of the worst aspects of this book is that Norman often repeats details and opinions. You get the impression that it’s unintentional and that the book was written in fits and starts. He just doesn’t remember that he already mentioned that. He mentions blues legend’s Robert Johnson’s infamous “pact with the devil” no less than 3 times. He repeatedly compares Jagger’s now aged countenance to the faces on Mount Rushmore. (Personally, I don’t see the comparison, as Jagger lacks both the dignity and historic significance of those personages.) Norman seems to feel the need to find things to refer to as “the new rock ‘n’ roll”: early in the book, comedy is the new rock ‘n’ roll. Towards the end, modeling is the new rock ‘n’ roll. Why this is relevant, I have no idea. He also contradicts his own assertions: he states that Bianca and Mick Jagger did not look alike, then later says that when she cut her hair short, she looked “exactly” like Mick. Where was the editor on this book?
Norman’s smarmy tone, irrelevant personal opinions, lack of insight, and uneven writing style make this is a poor biography. The atrocious narrator make it a nearly unendurable audiobook. I was completely sick of the narrator, the author, and the subject by the end and was glad when I finished it.
But it’s a Kosher frog!
I rolled the dice and I was pleasantly surprised by this book. After attempting to read “Life” purportedly written by Keith Richards, I had given up on Stones books. “Life”, in my opinion, was more-or-less the ravings of a person hoping to rewrite history. Philip Norman presents Mick Jagger in a documentary style; neither extoling nor degrading this icon of music history. The reader was mediocre at best. If you like those big lips and scrawny body, you will like this book.
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This book was interesting, but not overly compelling. Jagger is such an interesting person, but I didn't get a really intimate feel from the book, perhaps that is just due to a guarded man though.
Say something about yourself!
I bought this because it was about, well Mick Jagger. Enough said. It turns out that Mick is smarter than I thought and about as narcissistic as I thought. Is he happy? Beats me but he is a survivor and very rich.
I didn't even make it through 1/3 of this one. I think I bailed during the Marianne Faithful era. I prefer less oooohhhing and ahhhhing in biographies. There were too many opinions and not enough facts. I was disappointed.
Some real insights into who Mick Jagger really is ... his psychological make-up ... as opposed to just a rehashing of the historical events in the Stones formative years.
His posh accent, his tone, and his lack of humor were really grating. He sounds exactly like the stiff British aristocrats to whom the Stones were the antithesis. And worst of all are the moments when he reads out the lyrics in a Stones song or pretends to be Jagger talking. It just hurts the ears.
Yes, there were some interesting tidbits about Jagger and the Stones. But God only knows if they were true or not.
The ceaseless references to the "Mars bar" legend are ridiculous. This is Norman's fault, not Langton's, and only reveals the psychological hang-ups of Norman, not Jagger or anyone else.
Among the top 6
Mick Jagger - the "deep field" style of writing really brings the personality justice.
Yes. But this title is too long for that, of course.
Reading the dreadful negative reviews adjoining this audiobook, I can only wonder if the readers in question were listening to the same book that I have been hearing this week. The perception that this is a poor offering is entirely erroneous in my view. Just wrong! My take is quite different. The writing alone is simply incredible- witty, highly informative, and brimming with original and inventive use of the English language. The reader / performer of the audiobook itself takes the wit of the text to a higher level still: in all it is a fabulous reading, rich with obvious love of language, and wickedly, often uproariously funny. I find myself laughing out loud several times during each hour of listening. The story is utterly compelling, with a scope of personalities and events that reach far beyond the details of Mr. Jagger's own journey. You'll get a wide lens view of cultural life in England. The book is every bit as good as Keith Richards' autobiography ("Life") audiobook. I am going to turn to Pete Townshend's new autobiography after I finish "Mick Jagger"- but the Jagger opus is going to be one hard act to follow. I haven't had this much fun with an audiobook in a long time, maybe never. Both the writing and the vocal delivery- absolutely masterful. Engage!
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