Saturday 22 October 2016

The show goes on but this tragedy will leave Jagger a changed man

Gerard O'Regan

Published 03/04/2014 | 02:30

How will The Rolling Stones carry on after the death of Mick Jagger's girlfriend L'Wren Scott
How will The Rolling Stones carry on after the death of Mick Jagger's girlfriend L'Wren Scott
How will the Rolling Stones carry on after the death of Mick Jagger's girlfriend L'Wren Scott

DESPITE all that is written and said about him – especially over the past few weeks – the inner life of Mick Jagger must remain a mystery to those who muse at the doings of the international glitterati.

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But regardless of what voices speak to him in his quieter moments, these may be the toughest of all times for the ageing rock star.

The funeral of L'Wren Scott, the woman he described as his "best friend'', is now over and the mourners have drifted away.

Like anybody else caught up in the void which follows something as inexplicable as suicide, he will ultimately have to face his moments of darkness alone. There are many questions which only he can answer.

During these days, the legendary self-control of the multi-millionaire rock 'n' roller may be of little help when thoughts of 'what might have been' descend.

No one will ever know the secret agony which prompted L'Wren Scott's last act of defiance against the world. She leaves behind not only Michael Philip Jagger the man, but also Mick Jagger, still one of the world's most iconic entertainers.

But given the enormity of what has happened, can the very essence of what is the Rolling Stones survive? Of course the group can still perform – on Wednesday they announced that their stalled international tour will go ahead. But can Jagger and the band ever really be the same again?

Elvis Presley changed youth culture forever when he gyrated across the world's black and white TV screens in the 1950s, selling millions of records to a new social grouping described as "teenagers''.

Rock 'n' roll became much more than just another musical genre. It was at the epicentre of youth culture, where it has remained ever since.

But while this music form has been an outlet for adolescent angst through the generations, it has also embraced an undercurrent of optimism. It may indeed reflect a rage against the world, but it is also an ache to try to make things better.

This is why the effect of the sadness and dejection, left in the wake of L'Wren Scott's suicide, cannot be underestimated on Jagger and his band.

At the heart of the matter is whether Jagger can be reborn, so that he can go on as before.

There is an irony in the fact that the band has collectively survived so much over the decades – from drug addiction to relationship problems beyond the ken of more ordinary mortals.

BUT somehow they have always regrouped, come back together again for just one more gig, one more concert, one more tour.

And so on Tuesday it was announced that they will play on.

For somebody allegedly as tight-fisted as Jagger – he was reportedly having dinner with an accountant when he heard of L'Wren Scott's death – money can no longer be a primary motivation.

What matters most for this 70-year-old is surely the simple act of being able to do the thing that defines him most.

He is now an old man and the fear with each passing day must be that the once near-animal magnetism, which could so electrify an audience, may be no more.

The ethereal magic and raucous sensibility of the Rolling Stones in their prime are gone forever. So they fight to remain relevant.

Jagger leads the charge.

He colours his hair, which is too long for a man of his years, and we are told that nightly he applies his various face creams to keep the rigours of age at bay.

He does a relentless round of gym-style press-ups and holds to a spartan diet, so that on stage his lithe figure can prance about to the old rhythmic moves.

Even in their drug-fuelled days, Jagger was careful, most of all with himself.

Control has indeed been the defining feature of his persona throughout the decades.

But given the waywardness of time passing, there are some things he cannot shape and bend to his will, as was tragically exemplified by L'Wren's death.

The enormity of it all must be overwhelming.

It was a line in the sand.

Eventually he will leave Los Angeles – the City of Angels, Tinseltown, home to the Hollywood dream factory – and move on to places rather more grounded in reality.

Soon he will be pictured at some other airport, with the trademark sunglasses, flying to somewhere anew, living once again like a rock and roller.

But the biggest challenge will be to dredge up the old life force that drives on his music.

As of now, it seems the rockin' will go on for at least a little while longer.

Maybe that's what L'Wren would have wanted. How can anybody ever know?

Irish Independent

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