The rock writer Jack Hamilton is publishing a book called Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination. It’s an academic work, but a part of it is excerpted at Slate today and it’s well worth the slow start and long read.
Hamilton’s thesis is that the Stones were so adept at embracing and mirroring the black music they loved, that they eventually came to represent a new white authenticity that was embraced by white blues and metal bands that knew little or nothing about the Stones’ roots.
I’m not sure what this means in the book’s larger picture, it is an excerpt of course, but without looking at the argument’s validity as regards the whole history of rock ‘n’ roll, this little slice of story feels kind of genuine. Like, yeah, that may be true, though he have maybe set up something of a straw man argument, too. Still feels like useful analysis.
But Hamilton draws in a lot of historical sources to tell this story, and it’s fascinating to read quotes in the black newspapers of 1964 praising the Stones, while the mainstream white press rips them down. And his description of the musical opening of Gimme Shelter is exact and thrilling, like the music itself.
It’s curious that the Margo Jefferson quote from earlier in the piece comes from 1973, which was also a germination point for Death, who we posted about here last week. It’s possible that this book will shed some light on the way rock ‘n’ roll evolved musically and as a business in a racial context.
Then, if you have time, Chuck Klosterman tries to figure out who the one figure from rock ‘n’ roll will be remembered 100 years from now, the way we think of marching band music as John Phillips Sousa and ragtime as Scott Joplin.