Mick Jagger on writing: “Play the Part”

Via the Lefsetz Letter. BBC Interview w/ Mick Jagger

But what about writing the lyrics now, as opposed to where your head was then?

[Jagger]: “Now that’s a different thing. Of course it’s totally different. But you can put your head in a “mood”. That’s what any writing is like. You’ve got to be able to.

“People say, ‘is a song written from your own experience?’ The answer is ‘of course it isn’t!’ Bits of it are your experience, bits of things you’ve learnt off other people, bits you’ve nicked from other people’s lives, and bits you read in a newspaper. And all this goes to make a song, a novel or a play.

“And so with all this, you’re playing a part.”

Hmm. I guess I’m of the thinking that songwriters are at their best when speaking honestly and from the heart, and not simply playing the reporter or describing emotions that were never theirs. Yet that is the role of the writer, as Mick reminds me, to play the part. The thought process doesn’t change when writing screenplays, books or even songs. It’s all writing. It’s all stories. Go ahead and lie your face off.

But, as a listener, I’d rather not know the truth. Let me debate if The Boss actually “did a little favor” for the guy he “met on the losing end”, or if Dylan ain’t “gonna work for Maggie’s farm no more”. Ignorance is bliss when it comes to my rock n’ roll.

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