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TRUMP AND THE PATHOLOGY OF NARCISSISM
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“All the News That Fits” CHUCK BERRY 1926 -2017 He gave rock & roll its sound and its attitude, even as he battled racism – and his own misdeeds – the whole way. p.22 plus: Keith Richards pays tribute. p.34 and: Chuck’s 25 greatest songs. p.36
The Fighting Side of Joan Baez The protest singer looks back. By David Brow ne p.38
Narcissist in Chief Evaluating Trump’s mental health. By Alex Morris p.42 Playlist ............8 Rock & Roll ...11
Records ......... 51 Movies .......... 55
ON THE COVER Photo illustration by Sean McCabe. Photograph of Chuck Berry (circa 1958) by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.
Photograph by Mark Seliger
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THE DAMNED TURN 40 Four decades ago, the Damned were the U.K.’s undisputed punk pioneers – the ﬁrst band of its kind to land a single, an album and a U.S. tour. We catch up with the Damned as they mount a North American tour this summer, sitting down to discuss the anniversary, their lasting legacy and their upcoming new album.
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TRUMP’S WILD FIRST 100 DAYS
LIFE AFTER ‘DOWNTON’
A look back at all that America has been through in the past 12 weeks – the scandals, the travel bans, the health care disaster, the investigations and the many angry tweet storms.
Actor Dan Stevens talks about leaving Downton Abbey, his lead role in Beauty and the Beast, the new indie drama The Ticket – and WTF is happening on the sci-ﬁ hit Legion.
‘RESISTANCE RADIO’ PROJECT
Danger Mouse enlists Beck, Kelis, Norah Jones and more for the Resistance Radio project, an album of 1960s covers that doubles as a soundtrack to Man in the High Castle.
‘MUSIC NOW’ PODCAST After topping the charts with the Chainsmokers, Halsey recruited big-name producers for her cinematic second LP, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. She talks to host Brian Hiatt about following up the megahit single “Closer” and being a “big Marvel nerd.” The Rolling Stone Music Now podcast airs live on the SiriusXM Volume channel Fridays at 1 p.m. before going online.
ALL THIS AND MORE AT ROLLINGSTONE.COM/PODCAST
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Maybe juiciness comes from MC Hammer’s juicy raindance.
Go to hammerraindance.com on your smart phone to see Hammer do his thing.
Correspondence A Radical Treatment In RS 1283, Mac McClelland ventured into the underground world of illicit practitioners who administer mushrooms, MDMA and ayahuasca to treat a range of medical issues [“The Psychedelic Miracle”]. Readers responded. i’ve been a nurse for 50 years. A few years ago, I was in a terrible depression and was diagnosed with PTSD. Therapists made me worse, and psychiatrists had me on all kinds of meds. Then I took MDMA in very small doses for a month. I began to see how to get myself back, at the age of 68.
Sheeran Shines excellent article by patrick Doyle on Ed Sheeran [“Hardcore Troubadour,” RS 1283]. Simple melodies and a normal life: What else do we need from the hardcore troubadour?
i read this article w ith great interest. However, I was disappointed that there was no mention of ketamine, which is out there working miracles every day.
ed sheer a n h a s r e a l ly grown with each successive album. The first time I watched him performing solo – as he put down one instrumental track on top of another to do the entire song himself – gave me shivers.
Michael Ian Math Palm Desert, CA
over the past 25 years, my sessions w ith LSD, MDMA and DMT have become less frequent, but I still go down the rabbit hole once or twice a year. This has
Johhnny T, via the Internet
Jimmy, via the Internet
DeVos’ Mission i a m a r e t i r e d p u bl ic school teacher, and I’m appalled by Betsy DeVos, her family and associates [“Betsy DeVos’ Holy War,” RS 1283]. I know I have to have faith in the caring people of the world and cast my vote for the good, but lately, I have to admit it’s been tough. Thanks for a great and scary article. Pete Lee, Roseville, CA
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Gordo Shumway, Chicago
Pamela Jones-Ely Via the Internet
Gilbert B. Battung San Ramon, CA
say what you want about Sheeran, this guy has the ability to go in front of thousands of people with just a guitar and a loop pedal and kill it.
been my spiritual outlet; it has brought me closer to my loved ones and myself. Psychedelics are not for everyone, but for those with the mind to benefit, they need to be made legal now.
i grew up in holland, in that very cultish Christian Reformed Church of DeVos. Its approach to “teaching God” is nothing short of brainwashing. Whenever our “church” brought in a low-income or refugee family to “assist,” the help always came with a heavy dose of conversion. Al Wagenaar, Milwaukee
ja n et r eit m a n w rongly alleges that the nonprofit arts and mentoring programs I lead are a “pretense” for churches to “evangelize” in public schools; and that my association with the DeVos Urban Leadership Initia-
Love Letters & Advice Friends of Elton r ob s h e f f i e l d g i v e s a broad list of Elton John’s biggest records [“Essential Elton John,” RS 1283]. But he left out the soundtrack to the movie Friends (1971), which I think is way better than the overplayed hits. Give this forgotten LP a spin. You won’t regret it. Greg Jablonski, Salem, OR
h a r d t o dis agr e e w i t h most of this list, but the album he disses, Blue Moves, is my favorite. Come on: “One Horse Town,” “Crazy Water” and “Boogie Pilgrim” are great rockers; “Idol” and “Tonight” are gorgeous ballads. I love it. Richard Forman, via the Internet
Solo Stevie Nicks a n t i de pr e s s a n t s a r e expensive, and many patients are forced to take them for 20 years. That’s good for business. MDMA is taken a handful of times and has the potential to cure. That’s bad for business. Until you untangle the profit motive from health care, nothing will change. Warren Shiller, Montreal
tive proves that DeVos’ supposed master plan to undermine public education is working. Never would I have expected the magazine to offer me as Exhibit A in a misinformed conspiracy theory. Reitman should have asked me for comment or talked to the thousands of students, principals and teachers we serve in 100 public schools every day. Thrive builds bridges between unlikely allies in the fight for educational justice. None of the programs we lead feature religious evangelizing of any sort. Jeremy Del Rio Executive Director Thrive Collective, New York
i beca me a fa n of fleetwood Mac after hearing “Rhiannon.” Later, I became a fan of Stevie Nicks’ solo music. But now Nicks [The Last Word, RS 1283] seems more interested in making money than in advancing her art, or in joining efforts for a new group album. Jim Stodola, Manitowoc, WI
Paul and Elvis Jam y ou c a l l pau l mc c a r t ney’s Flowers in the Dirt box set “spectacular” because it has two versions of demos with Elvis Costello [“Paul and Elvis: The Fab Two,” RS 1283]. Sadly, though, McCartney has ignored his fans’ pleas for the B sides, singles and 12-inch versions on a CD instead of a download. Keith T. Brittain, Pineville, NC
Contact Us LETTERS to ROLLING STONE , 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104-0298. Letters become the property of ROLLING STONE and may be edited for publication. E-MAIL email@example.com SUBSCRIBER SERVICES Go to RollingStone.com/customerservice •Subscribe •Renew •Cancel •Missing Issues •Give a Gift •Pay Bill •Change of Address
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The truth is hard. The truth is hidden. The truth must be pursued. The truth is hard to hear. The truth is rarely simple. The truth isn’t so obvious. The truth is necessary. The truth can’t be glossed over. The truth has no agenda. The truth can’t be manufactured. The truth doesn’t take sides. The truth isn’t red or blue. The truth is hard to accept. The truth pulls no punches. The truth is powerful. The truth is under attack. The truth is worth defending. The truth requires taking a stand. The truth is more important now than ever.
MY LIST UMS AND VIDEOS RIGHT NOW
2. Gorillaz feat. Popcaan
1. Kendrick Lamar “The Heart Part 4” The rap god at his most gloriously pissed off, ripping into everyone from Trump to Kevin Durant: “No peers, no scars, no fear, fuck y’all, sincere.” Can’t front on that.
4. Perfume Genius “Slip Away” Singer-producer Mike Hadreas (a.k.a. Perfume Genius) specializes in turning his insecurities into sly synth-pop anthems – and this bright anti-hater banger is the best one he’s ever done.
“Saturnz Bars” Damon Albarn’s cartoon crew is about to release its ﬁrst LP in six years. Here they team up with Jamaican dancehall singer Popcaan for some awesomely spacey dubhop swagger.
3. Craig Finn “Jester & June” The Hold Steady frontman keeps getting closer to his Springsteen ideal, but this darkly majestic tale of dive bars, religion and drug deals gone weird is more Nebraska than Born to Run.
Jon Anderson Five Songs That Inspired Me The Yes frontman – on tour with the Yes offshoot band Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman – is part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2017 class.
The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” The Beatles were a very progressive band. It’s a very interesting lyric, dark and strange. No matter how many times you hear it, it still sounds amazing.
6. Todd Rundgren feat. Robyn
“I Put a Spell on You” In the early days of my career, I would always carry around a Nina Simone tape. She went through hell to become a great artist.
“That Could Have Been Me” Contrarian 68-yearold power-pop wizard meets cool Swedish diva, and Cyndi Lauperesque Eighties greatness ensues.
Jimi Hendrix “Purple Haze” I saw him play at a pub in Munich right after his ﬁrst album came out. This song was really the beginning of powerful rock.
Rickie Lee Jones
7. Brad Paisley “selﬁe#theinternetisforever”
5. Feist “Pleasure” If you haven’t checked in with Feist since she was a warm indie folkie, this quietly grueling song might surprise you. It’s like classic PJ Harvey if she only wrote deranged lullabies.
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A hilarious anti-social-media screed from the country star’s forthcoming album. “Spring-breakin’ in Daytona, in the middle of a keg stand/It’s all fun and games till your daddy follows you on Instagram,” he sings. He’s truly given us a folk song for our unashamed times.
“Magazine” She’s deﬁnitely one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time. My wife and I saw her play recently, and I was an emotional wreck by the end.
Randy Newman “In Germany Before the War” This is an incredible, powerful, sad, lonely song. Not many people go there. He’s just magic, and I love his songwriting.
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Q&A MACHINE GUN KELLY P. 16 | TV ‘VEEP’ RISES TO THE TRUMP CHALLENGE P. 17
Roll GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD Garcia, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Lesh, Weir and Kreutzmann in 1967
Dark Side of the Dead The band opens up like never before in a four-hour documentary full of unseen footage BY DAV ID BR OWNE
F HERB GREENE
or mickey hart, watching the upcoming gr ateful dead documentary Long Strange Trip was both moving and unsettling. “It’s charming and it’s heartfelt,” says the drummer. “But it’s sad in some ways. It’s not a date movie. I wouldn’t take my wife to see it.” The four-hour ﬁlm (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and will appear on Amazon Prime Video in June) is the ﬁrst comprehensive documen-
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SHAKEDOWN STREET Above: Dead fans in Monterey in 1987. “That’s what motivates the audience: the spirit of being able to have an adventure,” said Garcia (at left in 1991).
membered none of it,” says Weir.) There’s also unseen footage of their 1974 “farewell” concerts, including a burned-out Garcia complaining about the audience. “What should we do?” he grumbles backstage. “Go out and kill ourselves? We’ve had it, man.” Garcia’s struggles – with fame and the pressure of leading the Dead corporation – are a major theme. His daughter Trixie
talks about the toll the band took on family life; footage of Garcia scuba diving in Hawaii reveals the routes he took to ﬁnd peace. His ex-girlfriend Barbara Meier recalls a reunion with Garcia in the Nineties, when he fantasized about quitting touring. She also remembers a call she got from a road manager after Garcia had relapsed: “Jerry’s cool – he can handle this,” she remembers being told. The bandmates weren’t entirely happy with the ﬁlm. Weir says that they all sat down with Bar-Lev after Sundance, asking him to incorporate more material from “after Jerry checked out.” (“Based on our conversations with the band, I made sure the ﬁlm points to the future,” says the director.) But Weir acknowledges that the darkness “is counterbalanced by the music itself. A lot of the stories in the ﬁlm are fairly dark, but there’s a light that shines above all of that.”
The Dead’s Big Summer Plans A stadium tour, a Weir-Lesh reunion and maybe a new album are on the horizon
Lesh and Weir
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In May, Dead & Company – Weir, Kreutzmann, Hart and John Mayer – will begin their second summer tour. “I’m looking forward to mixing it up,” says Weir, who promises a “new mode of presentation” at the shows. “We’re shifting around the responsibilities of the band,” he says cryptically. “We’re going to take over different regions of the music. It’s going to be something of an undertaking.”
After that, Weir will reunite with Lesh, who tours with his own band, for a special set at Virginia’s Lockn’ fest. It was organized by promoter Peter Shapiro, who put together the Dead’s 2015 Fare Thee Well shows. “This is a mini version of that,” says Shapiro. “This isn’t a plan to re-create Fare Thee Well.” The set is being advertised as a celebration of 1977’s Terrapin Station, which is news to
Weir. “I don’t know,” he says. “I get to the festival and somebody slaps me on the shoulder and says, ‘You’re on.’” New music is also a possibility. Weir hopes to hit the studio with Dead & Company next year, possibly for an LP of Dead classics in Spanish. “It’s gonna take an act of Congress because of conﬂicting contractual obligations,” he says, “but I’d love to do it.” DAVID BROWNE
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FROM TOP: © JAY BLAKESBERG; © BOB MINKIN/ZUMA PRESS; PAUL HENNESSY/POLARIS
tary to tell the story of the Dead. Directed by Amir Bar-Lev (who previously directed The Tillman Story, about football playerturned-U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman) and executive-produced by Martin Scorsese, it does not shy away from the dark forces that led to the death of frontman Jerry Garcia. At one point, the surviving members theorize what they could have done as he slipped into heroin addiction. “It shows you how lonely it is when people want to pick you apart and give you no peace just because they love you to death,” says Hart. “It’s kind of tragic.” The ﬁlm charts the Dead’s journey from tireless Haight-Ashbury rehearsals to multimillion-dollar touring enterprise. There are sections dedicated to how record-company demands caused them to throw up their hands and become mainly a touring act (“One of the best things the Grateful Dead ever did,” says bassist Phil Lesh), and how they made their famous “wall of sound” PA system. “We were able to treat [the ﬁlm] as the Dead treated music,” says Bar-Lev, “and improvise and go where it took us.” Bar-Lev grew up a Deadhead in the Bay Area. He ﬁrst approached the Dead in 2003 about a documentary, but he didn’t start ﬁlming until 11 years later. Scorsese was the catalyst: After he ran into drummer Bill Kreutzmann at a party, the band ﬁnally agreed to interviews. In one highlight, guitarist Bob Weir even drives Bar-Lev to a local club to ambush the reclusive lyricist Robert Hunter, who answers only one question. Garcia talks a lot too; in one newly uncovered interview, he relates the culture of the Dead to Jack Kerouac: “That’s what motivates the audience,” he says. “The spirit of being able to go out and have an adventure in America at large.” The Dead provided Bar-Lev with boxes of unreleased material, including footage of them working out harmonies for “Candyman” in 1970. (“I was surprised – I re-
Bowie’s Friends Reveal the Man Behind the Legend
The Hits and Heartache of Jimmy Webb In his autobiography, the hitmaker details how he wrote AM gold while battling drugs and his own fame
u r i ng t he l at e si xties and early Seventies, Jimmy Webb was arguably the most successful mainstream songwriter alive, churning out sweeping, richly orchestrated hits for Glen Campbell, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra, among others. Yet while that success made him famous, it also saddled him with a “middle of the road” reputation that was totally out of step with his actual lifestyle. “I’m out partying for three days at a time and plowing a furrow through London’s underground, and I’m perceived as this squeakyclean writer,” he says. Webb’s new memoir, The Cake and the Rain, follows his rise from Oklahoma preacher’s son to L.A. pop aristocrat. At the heart is his struggle to carve out his own identity while living a double life as a Middle American song poet with countercultural artistic dreams. One weekend he’d be Sinatra’s guest in Vegas, the next he’d be joyriding
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in his sailplane with David Crosby. Webb moved between debating politics with Campbell and giving Paul McCartney feedback on the White Album. Later, Webb was on hand for John Lennon and Harry Nilsson’s infamous “lost weekend.” In one scene, Nilsson calls on him at 3 a.m. for $100 bills and “hee-haw” (a.k.a. cocaine). Webb watches Lennon roll up each bill and insert it into a naked woman’s vagina: “There was an unwritten code that if the Beatles asked you to do something, you did it. I’m not kidding.” Webb has a few axes to grind, but usually he’s a warmly nostalgic and vivid storyteller. The book ends in 1973, with a near-fatal overdose that serves as a kind of “end of the Sixties” moment. Webb got sober in the late Nineties, lives with his wife on Long Island and plays 50 shows a year: “I was brought up in a Baptist household where hard work was redemption. I’ve never been able to siphon that out, even with JON DOLAN massive jolts of cocaine.”
The Deﬁnitive Story of the Summer of Love As a graduate of Fairfax High School’s class of 1969, Harvey Kubernik grew up in the center of the L.A. rock scene. He took full advantage, seeing upward of ﬁve shows a week, including early gigs by Buffalo Springﬁeld, Janis Joplin, the Dead and more. He chronicles it in 1967: A Complete Rock Music History of the Summer of Love. Packed with new interviews with principals like Carlos Santana, Michelle Phillips and Roger McGuinn, it gives month-by-month accounts of the scenes in London, San Francisco, New York and even Australia, where the Bee Gees were scoring their ﬁrst hits. The result breathes new life into a wideopen cultural moment. “I’d see people hitchhiking who would be on the dance ﬂoor with all of us,” says Kubernik. “There wasn’t division like there is now. I think the book shows we were all in this groove together.” A.G.
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Webb in 1969
Nobody’s singular take could possibly capture the complexities of David Bowie. So ROLLING STONE senior writer Brian Hiatt gathered 15 of Bowie’s closest friends and admirers – including longtime keyboardist Mike Garson, Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chic’s Nile Rodgers – to share their memories of the visionary artist for A Portrait of Bowie, alongside rare photos and paintings. “It’s not an oral history, but rather a collection of oral histories,” says Hiatt. “You get this kind of 360-degree sense of him.” Childhood friend George Underwood recounts accompanying Bowie to a Little Richard and Sam Cooke show in 1962 (“That’s when David started learning about showmanship”); guitarist Carlos Alomar recalls the Young Americans sessions (“You would have this bag of cocaine right on the music stand”); and Rodgers details the Let’s Dance sessions with Stevie Ray Vaughan (“Only Bowie would get this dude from Texas playing Albert King licks over this pop album,” says Rodgers). “I came away a bigger Bowie fan than ever,” says Hiatt. “Most of all, it made me really wish that I’d been able to interview him at some point.” ANDY GREENE
Maggie Rogers’ Folk Fairy Tale How a banjo-playing hiking guide became Pharrell’s favorite new songwriter
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CLASS ACT “I spent last summer having weird label dinners with 50-year-old men,” says Rogers.
JAY SOM: BEDROOM DREAM-POP PRODIGY Melina Duterte has been performing her own music for only about a year. Before that, the 23-year-old was a formally trained jazz trumpeter with conservatory goals. She changed direction in 2015, when she released nine songs as Jay Som (a pseudonym she pulled from an online name generator). The set earned her a record deal and comparisons to Mazzy Star. Her new album, Everybody Works, recorded in her Oakland bedroom, combines low-ﬁ rock, dream pop and R&B production. She wrote it as she struggled to balance personal relationships with what she calls her “indulgent” new career – which she’s only just getting comfortable with. “I’ve started to actually like playing live,” she says, “but if I had to choose, I wouldn’t. Recording in my bedroom, I can literally do whatever Duterte I want.” SUZY EXPOSITO
CASHMERE CAT’S ALL-STAR EDM PARTY Since 2012, Cashmere Cat has existed mainly in liner notes, providing sparse, synth-heavy beats for Kanye, Britney Spears and Ariana Grande. The Norwegian DJ signed up more big names, including Selena Gomez and the Weeknd, for his new LP, 9. Cashmere (real name Magnus Høiberg) singles out “Wild Love” – an avant-garde meditation on crazy sex, sung by the Weeknd – as an example of his new musical mission. “I wanted to make a longer body of work,” he says of the album. “Not just club tracks.” KORY GROW
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aggie rogers did not know she was about to become a viral sensation when she stepped into class at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music last spring. “We knew there was going to be a guest, but we had no idea it was going to be Pharrell,” says Rogers, a freckled 22-year-old in jeans and big earrings, over coffee in New York. Pharrell Williams had come to give feedback on student music. The class would be ﬁlmed and put on his YouTube channel. Rogers played him “Alaska,” a synthy folk-pop tune about walking off a failed romance on a hiking trip (she had trained as a hiking guide in Alaska). The performance nearly moved Williams to tears. As Rogers grinned, he compared her originality to Stevie Wonder and the I want to inventors of Reese’s Peaplay a show that nut Butter Cups. Someone posted the moment my friends on Reddit, and it went would want to viral. “I started getting get high for, a lot of texts,” says Rogsays Rogers. ers. “I didn’t even know what Reddit was.” She has since signed a deal with Capitol and just released an EP, Now That the Light Is Fading. As overnight as Rogers’ success may seem, she has been prepping for it most of her life. Growing up, she learned to play harp, guitar and banjo, impressing high school classmates with covers of Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead. During a semester abroad in 2015, she visited a dance club in Berlin. “It changed everything,” she says. “I wanted to play a show that kids my age would want to come to and get high for.” Before graduation, Rogers planned to work as a freelance writer while releasing music independently. Now, she’s planning a full album and a tour that includes a stop at Lollapalooza. “I spent last summer having weird label dinners with 50-year-old men,” she says. “There are a lot of things worse to be than the ‘Pharrell girl.’ I hope that’ll wear off. I really want to make a great record, like my Rumours or Thriller.” DAVID BROWNE
ntil recently, machine Gun Kelly was semifamous for dating model Amber Rose in 2015. But the rapper – who earned his stage name on the Cleveland hip-hop scene for his rapid-ﬁre delivery – has just scored a pop smash with “Bad Things,” an Eminemstyle duet with former Fifth Harmony singer Camila Cabello. The song recently hit Number Four on the Hot 100. “It’s crazy,” says Kelly, 26. “It’s the ﬁrst love song I ever wrote.” The song will likely appear on his third album, Bloom, out this summer. But music is just one of Kelly’s hustles: He had a major part on Showtime’s Roadies and has walked runways for John Varvatos. At the moment, Kelly is in Mexico, but he won’t say why. “Put me on the cover and I’ll tell you what’s going on down here,” he says. You’re one of the few rappers who play guitar onstage. That’s why I ﬁrst picked up the guitar. It seemed like that was missing from this generation. Is there someone who can play guitar better than me technically? One hundred percent. But does anyone look better playing a guitar in my generation? Absolutely not. You’ve talked a lot about Nirvana and Radiohead. Why do you think the Nineties produced so many great bands? I have Nineties music oozing out of my pores. What made rock & roll back then is that it was uncensored. It was raw and dark. Think of “Something in the Way,” by Nirvana – he was telling everyone how he felt. Now we’re in the age of politically correct. I hope to shave that down and bring purity back into things. You’ve said your next album is inspired by Radiohead. I was listening to a lot of Kid A when I made it. They use unconventional sounds to ﬁll up the production. I have the same goal: to push people’s minds. Your real name is Colson Baker. How is Colson different than Machine Gun? Colson was a fucking loser, man. He didn’t inspire me. He accepted judgment rather than lashing out against it. It took me maturing and being a father myself to accept “You were beautiful the whole time.” Colson lacked conﬁdence, and Machine Gun Kelly is the cockiest motherfucker on the planet. In your Colson days, you worked at a Chipotle in Cleveland. What was the best part? The free meal they gave me every day. Or the fact that I killed the guac. Everybody was always like, “Damn, the
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Machine Gun Kelly The Cleveland rapper on his journey from prepping guacamole at Chipotle to becoming ‘the cockiest motherfucker on the planet’ BY A N DY GR E E N E
guac is banging today!” I’d be like, “Oh, yeah. I made that shit!” What were you like behind the counter? When people said, “Yo, let me get a little more chicken,” and the person next to me didn’t want to give it to them, I’d tap them on the shoulder and say, “Bro, this is not our chicken. None of our family owns Chipotle. Give everyone as much chicken as they fucking want!” If you ever came through my line, you would have a bowl full of chicken. Also, they never let me roll the burritos because I always fucked the burritos up. They’d burst every time. You have an eight-year-old daughter. How has being a dad changed you? It didn’t change me until she learned to Google. I don’t care what anyone else thinks, but I do care what she sees. So I cleaned up my act a little bit. And I’m speaking to a broader audience now. Not everyone grew up stoked on watching Mötley Crüe doing lines off the bar. Two years ago you said you take mushrooms a few times a week. Are you cutting down on drugs these days? No comment. What’s the best concert you’ve ever seen? I’ll tell you a recent one that blew my mind. I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and their new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer. Who the fuck is that guy? I think he’s an alien. I also saw Good Charlotte – seeing how much kids still connect to that shit shows you that the right song never really dies. Why do you have a tattoo of the old man from The Giving Tree under your right armpit? That’s what my idea of life is like. It’s like taking pieces off my own physical being. We essentially toured every shitty dive bar in the entire U.S. and Canada, every theater, every college arena, and weren’t seeing any returns. Emotionally, I was investing my trust in people and getting completely betrayed. You get fucked over and you realize, “Damn, I gave all my branches away.” Are you getting any blowback from the underground scene for being on the pop charts? I’ve given so much to the underground. For the underground to come up and say my music has changed? It’s like, “You fucking idiot, my formula has never changed.” How can the community that was hugely responsible for sparking a ﬁre under me turn their backs on me? Fame is the weirdest thing ever. At the same time, you seem to enjoy it. One hundred thousand percent. Being a rock star rocks.
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‘Veep’ in the Age of Trump Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Co. return to a very different America. And we need their cynicism and bile more than ever BY ROB SH EF F IELD
elcome to a post-apocaly ptic Veep, for a postapocalyptic America. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has always made her President Selina Meyer a splendidly loathsome monster of American politics – but like the rest of us, she’s gotten bumrushed by a real-life electoral catas-
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trophe more bizarre than any TV show could have made up. HBO’s scathing political satire might have gotten out-freaked by reality, yet in the superb new episodes, Selina is right in tune with the national mood of America – or as she tenderly calls it, “this cocksuck of a country.” The USA now stands revealed as even stupider and more doomed than Selina imagined – which is why Veep weirdly feels timelier than ever. The 2016 electoral meltdown never gets mentioned on Veep, of course – this is an alternate timeline where Trump, Clinton and Sanders don’t exist. Yet that vibe of “What the hell just happened?” looms over the new season. Selina is now an expresident, deposed after just one year in the Oval Office. And being a former commander in chief turns out to be an even more impotent gig than she thought. Looking around her new office, she snarls, “This is the worst place they’ve ever stuffed an expresident – and that includes JFK’s coffin.” Will Selina make a graceful adjustment to her post-presidential role? Or will she claw her way back into the corridors of power? Can she reunite her old gang of
NOVEMBER SURPRISE Louis-Dreyfus as ex-president Selina Meyer
cynical political operatives? Or will she just sit around nursing her bruised ego? “Being an ex-president is like being a man’s nipple,” Selina rages at one point. “People go right by you to jerk off a dick.” She doesn’t have any idealism to fall back on, but she can always be counted on for a political insight like “This election’s going down like Eleanor Roosevelt at Dinah Shore Weekend.” Veep remains swifter, nastier and spikier than any other comedy on the air, a nonstop ﬁrestorm of bile with a deep bench of bumbling hacks, from Gary Cole’s unctuous Kent to Timothy Simons’ Jonah. As al-
ways, Kevin Dunn ﬁnds a way to steal any scene as the most hard-boiled of political ﬁxers, who ﬁnds himself unfulﬁlled when he goes to work at Uber, or as he describes it, “a bunch of dumbass millennials too lazy to learn how to drive drunk.” But more than ever, Louis-Dreyfus is the center of Veep, lost in a country she doesn’t recognize. As an ex-president, she’s still terrifying, but suddenly relatable. After all her years of sneering about the idiocy of the average voter – “the normals and the normalistas,” as she used to call them – that’s the country Selina’s living in now, and she doesn’t like it any more than we do.
Dave Chappelle’s Long-Awaited Comeback
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Dave Chappelle’s comeback is a bit of a mess. But then, he always was – a mess is his favorite kind of place. Anyone expecting polished perfection from his new Netﬂix specials is remembering his Chappelle’s Show-era material as tighter than it was; he thrived on a loose, winging-it feel. The Age of
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Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas were recorded a year apart – for a reported $20 million a pop. Neither is a home run – he’s testing the waters, with a third stand-up special due this year. His best riffs are about
being confused by today’s world. He recalls watching the space shuttle explode in 1986 – but tells the audience, “In your generation, it’s like the space shuttle blows up every fucking day. How can you care about anything when you know about every goddamn thing?” Not a bad R.S. question.
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For the Record Early on, ‘Rolling Stone’ saw its Records section as home to a crucial, ongoing dialogue about rock & roll. It helped launch careers – of key critics and artists they championed n e n ight i n the spr i ng of 2001, ja n n s. dent at UC Berkeley and already contributing reviews to Rolling Wenner visited Bob Dylan backstage. The two men Stone when he was introduced one night to the magazine’s manhad known each other since the late Sixties, but even aging editor, Charles Perry. Marcus complained that the Records so, Dylan’s greeting was a bit familiar – he began section had no sense of what to cover. “All anybody ever does is patting Wenner down, rooting around for somewrite about lyrics,” he told Perry. “It’s like a bunch of folk-music thing in his jacket. “I said, ‘Bob, what are you doing?’” Wenner rereviews.” A day or two later, Wenner called and offered Marcus members. “He said, ‘I’m looking for that extra star. What pocket $35 a week to solve the problem. have you got it in?’” The pages blossomed with new voices and fresh approaches. For those keeping score, Rolling Stone’s review of 1997’s Marcus believed “rock & roll was writing its own history in the Time Out of Mind was four stars; the album Dylan released in moment.” His sections were carefully curated. Some focused on fall 2001, Love and Theft, would get ﬁve – and even Dylan might reissues of early rock & roll, and others on women’s voices, from agree with these ratings, as after Time Out of Mind he began Fifties girl group the Chantels to Dusty Springﬁeld’s new classic, producing his albums himself to better realize the sound he was Dusty in Memphis. “It was the past and the present all mixed up, after. More important, for the world’s greatest songwriter to tease as if there was no such thing as ‘oldies,’ ” he says. Rolling Stone’s editor and publisher about holding out on Marcus took chances on experimental albums – his ﬁrst sechim was a sign that the magazine’s Records section was function featured a Lester Bangs rave about Captain Beefheart’s Trout tioning as Wenner had always hoped. He Mask Replica – and on experimental writsaw Rolling Stone’s reviews as “part ers. “There was this guy who was sending of that feedback loop – that big circle that in short stories,” he remembers of J.R. “The ring of truth knocked was part of the creation of music: artists Young. “Those were his reviews.” The ﬁrst me backward,” Clapton and audiences and criticism.” was an appraisal of the irresistible erotic When Rol l i ng Ston e began, in effects of the Grateful Dead’s Live/Dead said of one ‘Rolling Stone’ 1967, Wenner wanted the magazine’s rethat read like a cross between Chekhov and review. “I decided that was views to have seriousness and focus. He felt The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. the end of Cream.” the emerging world of rock criticism was But it was Marcus himself who was reoften about image, culture and politics, not sponsible for the most famous ﬁction in the always the music itself. So one of his ﬁrst history of rock criticism: a review of The moves was to sign up Jon Landau as his lead critic. Landau – today Masked Marauders, an album that started off as a joke and then the manager of Bruce Springsteen – was then an undergraduate became real. Marcus was disappointed in sketchy one-off superat Brandeis in Boston. A guitar player himself, he brought knowlgroup albums like Super Session, a collection of jams from Mike edge and precision to his writing for one of rock’s ﬁrst chronicles, Bloomﬁeld, Al Kooper and Stephen Stills. He imagined what a Crawdaddy. As Wenner prepared to launch Rolling Stone, he real supersession would be like. “Obviously, it’d have to have the offered Landau a column. “He sent me a copy of the dummy issue,” Beatles, and Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones,” he says. So he Landau says. “It was really impressive. And he mentioned that he wrote a parody review that brought them together as the Masked was paying for the writing, which was fairly novel.” Marauders, with Mick Jagger singing “I Can’t Get No Nookie” Landau’s work established Rolling Stone’s authority and and Dylan and George Harrison playing the MC5’s “Kick Out the had real impact. A review of a Cream concert in RS 10 (May 11th, Jams” on acoustic guitars. 1968) took Eric Clapton to task as “a master of the blues clichés.” A fake album cover was mocked up, and the whole thing apWhen he read it, Clapton was stunned. “The ring of truth just peared in RS 44 (October 18th, 1969). Desperate fans phoned the knocked me backward,” Clapton told the magazine in a 1985 inRolling Stone office asking where they could ﬁnd a copy, as terview. “I was in a restaurant, and I fainted. And after I woke up, did record distributors – even Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, I immediately decided that was the end of the band.” out of touch with his elusive client, called to see if there was any But Landau’s column was a single page in the front of the magtruth to the piece. And then there was: Marcus and his colleague azine. The Records section in the back remained without a dediLangdon Winner recorded a version of “I Can’t Get No Nookie,” cated editor until RS 38 (July 26th, 1969). Greil Marcus – whose and after it aired on San Francisco radio, Warner Bros. rushed to work at Rolling Stone, and later in books such as Mystery release a full album. (Berkeley’s Cleanliness and Godliness SkifTrain and Lipstick Traces, would do much to establish the intelﬂe Band provided the music.) In a few months, the Masked Malectual and literary potential of music criticism – was a grad sturauders had gone from put-on to reality.
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he refused to compromise the standards.” One of those changes was the 1981 introduction of star ratings for reviews, which Wenner had wanted to adopt since the 1970s. “The editors viewed it as reductive,” Wenner says. “They fought it.” Stars went 1 against Nelson’s view of albums as artworks, but as critical taste and popular music diverged, Wenner believed the magazine had to serve its readers. The Records section was a crucial showcase for albums by emerging stars, from Prince’s Dirty Mind (“The most 2 generous album about sex ever made by a man,” wrote Ken Tucker in a lead review in Critics Corner 1981) to Nas’ Illmatic (1) Nelson. (2) Marcus. (3) Fricke. (4) Landau. (“Like a rose stretch(5) Vivid illustrations became a staple of the ing up between cracks R OLLING S TONE lead reviews. (6) Prince was in the sidewalk, callone of many emerging stars the Records ing attention to its section endorsed. beauty, calling at3 tention to the lack of it everywhere else,” wrote Touré in 1994). That lead spot was a showcase for illustration as well, including a Robert Grossman caricature of Dylan in a shower cap, for Hard Rain, and a striking portrait of Springsteen by Roberto Parada, in the style of Thomas Hart Benton, for 6 The Rising. In the 1970s, Rol l i ng Ston e brought in the best Over the next few years, Rolling Stone would become a rock writers from smaller 5 deﬁning voice in a rapidly changing form of writing that lifted magazines – Dave Marsh from the tools of literary criticism, ﬁlm-auteur theory and sociology Creem, Timothy White from to create a living document of the counterculture overtaking the Crawdaddy – and gave them a big microphone and center stage. mainstream, album by album. Landau became Records editor in In the early Nineties, Anthony DeCurtis opened up the section to the early 1970s, inaugurating a ﬁnely tuned mix of passion and many writers who would become the deﬁning voices of hip-hop professionalism that made the magazine’s section a launching criticism, among them Danyel Smith, Cheo Coker, Scott Poulsonpad for countless critics (Stephen Holden of The New York Times Bryant and Kevin Powell. Rob Sheffield began writing for the magamong them), a tradition that continued under Paul Nelson, who azine in 1997, after contributing to Spin and The Village Voice; brought in Kurt Loder and David Fricke. Born in Minnesota, NelJon Dolan arrived in 2009, after working at Spin and Blender. son had known Dylan in college, playing him crucial recordings Sheffield remembers reading Rolling Stone reviews in by Woody Guthrie and others. As an A&R man at Mercury Recmiddle school, and running out to buy LPs like X’s Wild Gift. ords, he signed the New York Dolls. At Rolling Stone, he was “Whether I agreed with the writer wasn’t the point,” he says. an early supporter of singer-songwriters like Jackson Browne and “What came across was that idea that there were stakes here. Warren Zevon – artists for whom the magazine played an imporThese things mattered.” They still do. It was Sheffield who wrote tant role in championing – as well as the Clash and the Sex Pistols. that ﬁve-star review of Dylan’s Love and Theft. “I remember being “I was in awe of him,” Fricke says of Nelson. “I’d read his writtold that his publicist read the review to Dylan over the phone, ing in the magazine like it was gospel. He’d sit in his office with his and Dylan asked him to read it to him again,” Sheffield says. “The little cigarillos, surrounded by chaos – packages and records and joke in the office was, ‘Well, I guess our work here is done.’ ” But JOE LEVY everything. He knew everything was changing around him, but the music keeps coming, and the work never stops.
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RandomNotes DOUBLE TROUBLE Eric Clapton celebrated 50 years as a recording artist, in New York, where he traded licks with opener Gary Clark Jr. on “Before You Accuse Me.” The tour was set to continue in L.A., but Clapton canceled due to severe bronchitis, saying he is “very sorry to disappoint [my] fans.”
All Day and All of the Knight
DOG DAY Katy Perry took a stroll in Santa Barbara after announcing she and Orlando Bloom have split up. She will be performing at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival in June, which may be part of a bigger tour.
HAIL TO THE BEACH Thom Yorke unwound in Miami two days before he kicked off the new leg of Radiohead’s Moon Shaped Pool world tour at the nearby American Airlines Arena. CLOCKW ISE FROM TOP LEFT: PA IMAGES/S .COM; AKM-GSI ; STEVEN TYLER/T WITTER IPA USA; MARK LACHOVS KY; INSTARIM AGES
In recognition of his “service to the arts,” Ray Davies was knighted by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. “It’s nice being noticed,” says the Kinks frontman, who just released his new solo LP, Americana, backed by the Jayhawks. “But I still want to prove that I can write music and be contented by it. That’s what I strive for.”
AERO FORCE Steven Tyler celebrated his 69th birthday at Disneyland. “The happiest place in the galaxy,” he tweeted, sharing a photo with Chewbacca. Until recently, Tyler was planning a fall U.S. tour with Aerosmith, but they have chosen to hit the studio instead.
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Bieber Down Under
POP’S POWER DUO After playing SNL together, Lorde and her collaborator Jack Antonoff hung out in New York. “There aren’t many living artists like [her],” Antonoff said.
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UNKNOWN LEGEND When John Legend arrived at London’s St. Pancras International train station, he sent out a tweet: “Do they still have that piano there?” They did, so he sat down and played several hits for a huge mob. Legend will play considerably bigger gigs on tour in the U.S. this summer.
After wrapping an Australian tour, Justin Bieber let loose at a bar in New Zealand, knocking back shots with his pastor, Carl Lentz. Bieber hit it off with a blond bartender and decided to strip down to his sweatpants. At one point, he danced to Kanye with an elderly woman.
ACE OF BASS Esperanza Spalding rocked an upright bass in Miami Gardens. “The sound is tremendous,” she said. “It’s kind of musically orgasmic.”
GUCCI GAME Gucci Mane watched the Clippers beat the Lakers in style, sporting a $3,750 Gucci jacket.
Gorillaz’ Supersize Return Gorillaz played their ﬁrst show in six years, in London, and made up for the wait. “We’ve got pretty much everyone who’s on the record here,” said Damon Albarn, before playing his cartoon band’s entire new album, Humanz, out April 28th. Guests included Danny Brown, De La Soul and Noel Gallagher. “I’m not going to introduce anyone – because I’d spend the whole evening doing that,” Albarn said.
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Chuck Berry 1926 -2 0 1 7
Farewell to the father of rock: He gave the music its sound and its attitude, even as he battled racism – and his own misdeeds – all the way BY MIKAL GILMORE
BROWN EYED HANDSOME MAN Berry onstage circa the mid-Seventies
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Chuck Berry 1926-2017 to the words of Chuck Berry.” Bob Dylan named him “the in Mobile, Alabama. His revved-up and revoluShakespeare of rock & roll.” The literary corollaries tionary ﬁrst hit, “Maybellene” – a joyful story that here are appropriate, because Berry himself was a litromped through cars, sex and class – had recenterary figure, as a writer, as ly taken Berry from a St. Louis nightclub act to a a character and as an idea. Though he took much from national star unlike any other. He was tall, limber, the music of T-Bone Walker, Louis Jordan, Hank Williams smart, sly, incredibly inventive, and animated onand Charlie Christian, among others, his true antecedents stage in ways that helped ﬂex his musicianship rather than detract from it. Plus, might be found in the work he was handsome and black. These were the early days of rock & roll. What of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and author Ralph Ellison. the music seemed to stand for – a youthful refusal to defer to adult authority, Dunbar was a late-19th-century black poet whose most a preference for turbulent sounds made from outsider forms like blues, boogie famous work was “We Wear and hillbilly, and a willingness among young whites and blacks to listen to and the Mask,” about how blacks had to hide their true selves adopt one another’s music, to gather and dance to it – signaled social change and realities from the rest of America. Ellison’s nameless that both anticipated and corresponded to the emerging civil-rights struggle. hero in 1952’s Invisible Man had to navigate between racBerry’s charisma and sexiness, his lyri- was just like we were all then boarding da’ ism and radicalism and his own needs in cal and musical brilliance and his early ol’ ribba-boat about to ﬂoat into a land of covert ways. Both Dunbar and Ellison were edge in the game (Elvis Presley had not yet ﬂawless freedom.” important and praised, but they were also ascended) made him a natural point man That night, Berry reached across the rebuked by some other black artists who for this change. His blackness, however, great American divide. “The palms of black thought they catered too much to white made him a natural threat to some, even and white,” he later wrote, “were burning ideals of culture and behavior. black critics who decried rock & roll as a as the producer signaled me to exit. . . .” It could be said that Berry wore the movement that debased the race. Berry Outside the Mobile theater, though, Berry mask, though he did it in trickier ways. didn’t present himself as a subversive, but found himself facing the bigger and scarier When that mask really dropped, at the end he didn’t need to. The young, both black enduring reality of the historical breach of the 1950s, he lost just about everything. and white, thrilled to him every time he he’d walked into: “It seemed the whole po- Yet such was Berry’s importance that if took a stage. Berry knew there was both lice force had surrounded our bus.” Were not for him, the Beatles, Dylan, the Rollrisk and opportunity in this. “I’d been the police there to protect the musicians, or ing Stones and countless others wouldn’t hearing of this sort of racial problem for to keep them from mixing with the excited have had a model or map. This magazine years from my father,” he wrote in his au- audience members who had also gathered? wouldn’t be here without him. If ever there tobiography, “except his stories were more “The isolation ignited ill feelings in the was an American who deserved the Nobel severe.” fans as well as the artists,” wrote Berry. “I Prize in Literature, it was Chuck Berry. If At the Mobile show, Berry was wor- watched the officers taking the abuse and ever there was an American who did not, ried. Ropes ran down the audience ﬂoor, I thought, do in Rome as the Romans do. it was Chuck Berry. If ever there was an separating blacks from whites. Could he Fears that the police would reciprocate led American, it was Chuck Berry. truly play music that appealed across this me to board the bus.” e r r y t r a c e d h i s f or e division? Would one audience resent him That was Chuck Berry’s ideal: He wantbears back to pre-Civil War more than the other? “I skipped onstage,” ed both sides of the ropes, wanted to days, at the Wolfolk plantahe wrote, “and belted out my song ‘May- achieve a freedom that had not come eastion in southernmost Kenbellene.’ I put everything I had into it: a ily to others. He tried this in his music, tucky. The wife of Master Wolhillbilly stomp, the chicken peck, and even and in both his public and private life ad-libbed some Southern country dialect. – that is, he attempted to navigate the folk, Berry wrote, inherited the plantation Contrary to what I expected, I received dividing lines, even the ones inside him- upon the death of her husband in 1839. far greater applause from the white side self. Sometimes his efforts were immod- She didn’t push the slaves, in comparison of the ropes. . . . Determined to retaliate, est and disastrous. Berry was a complex to other owners, and was lenient to her faI bowed longer to the bored black side man: ebullient, guarded, embittered and vorites. Berry, in fact, believed the woman than I lingered on the left, let my ﬁngers licentiously ﬂawed. Even some who most had an affair with a house servant and gave crawl into the introduction, and poured out admired him – who would have been birth to an illegitimate “mixed-blooded fethe pleading guitar passage of ‘Wee Wee nowhere without his inf luence – didn’t male child,” Cellie. Cellie served Mrs. WolHours’. . . . I began hearing ‘uhmms’ and much like him. Keith Richards once folk alone. John Johnson, a young slave ‘awws’ as I approached the kissing climax said, “I couldn’t warm to him even if I from the nearby Johnson House plantaand how beautifully the black side began to was cremated next to him.” But Richards tion, was attracted to the light-skinned moan. I knew I was getting next to them. It and others couldn’t deny Berry’s impor- Cellie and worked at both plantations to tance as the most innovative guitarist and be close to her. Master Johnson, like WolContributing editor Mik al Gilmore lyricist in rock & roll history. Leonard folk, was what Berry called a “good maswrote about Leonard Cohen in December. Cohen once said, “All of us are footnotes ter.” One day, he came home and told John
ne night in 1955, chuck berry played a show
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You Can’t Catch Me (1) Berry was a natural showman, animated in ways that helped his musicianship rather than detract from it. (2) Berry and his wife, Themetta, in 1948. They would stay married until his death 69 years later. (3) Taking a spin, circa the mid-Sixties. (4) As a boy in the late 1930s.
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that President Lincoln was likely to enact laws that would put an end to slavery. In a short time, the young slave and Cellie would be free. The couple moved to Ohio and married. They returned to Kentucky, but later ﬂed to Missouri after drunken white men tried to rape Cellie. Living in a one-room cabin, they raised four children. The youngest, Lucinda, was the mother of Chuck Berry’s father, Henry William Berry, born in 1895. Before he was even born, the rock & roll singer’s history had
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already moved between complex worlds of white violence and white benevolence, between black bondage and black hope. In 1919, Henry William Berry was living in St. Louis when he married Martha Bell Banks. “My childhood was not so good,” the singer once said in an uncharacteristically candid moment. “My parents were getting divorced.” That divorce never materialized, but the couple certainly had different ambitions for their family. Martha had studied to become a schoolteacher,
but Henry effectively discouraged her from pursuing the profession by having a large family. Charles Edward Anderson Berry, the fourth of six siblings, was born October 18th, 1926. By then, Henry was working as a carpenter, as he would for the rest of his life. The family sang at the Antioch Baptist Church, and at home they heard country music on the radio, Gene Autry and Bill Monroe. Berry’s parents settled the family into the area known as the Ville, where work-
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THE SHOWMAN Duck-walking in front of a Hollywood crowd, 1980
ing-class blacks lived alongside black elites, including owners of St. Louis’ black newspapers, lawyers and doctors, heads of the NAACP. Yet St. Louis had long been a place of racial resentment and limitations. The ﬁrst time Berry saw white people, as a child, he said, was when a ﬁre brigade arrived in response to a burning building in his neighborhood. Berry also long remembered the day he and his family were refused tickets to see 1935’s A Tale of Two Cities because they were black.
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Berry’s parents shared two visions for their children. They wanted them to be literate – to be aware of poetry, classical music and proper diction. The poetry and diction became important to Berry. He later said that he had not been a good reader but had developed a natural ﬂair for poesy – for how to construct lyrics – and his insistence on proper diction remained obsessive throughout his life. In part, this stemmed from a concern that many middle-class blacks shared: Proper enunciation worked against a stereotype that blacks were uneducated. In conversation, his locution was intentionally – even a bit haughtily – proper. In his songs, he would always sing clearly, but his voice was also true to the story – whether yearning, sly, sexy, blue, angry or euphoric. The other thing the Berrys wanted for their children was religious propriety – perhaps not full-out piety, but Christian moral decency. The notion didn’t appeal to Berry at all. He later said he felt church was a place he was always “dragged in.” He loved his parents, feared his father’s discipline, but later, he wrote, “I began to wiggle from under what few restrictions Mother and Daddy had at home.” A nurse – a white woman – would sometimes visit when a family member was ill, and she scolded the young Charles when he would explore her medical bag. He worked to please her, to get a kiss from her. “The feeling of her lips,” he wrote in his autobiography, “the same lips that forgave me after once punishing, has yet to leave my memory. . . . My mother’s nurse had a profound effect on the state of my fantasies and settled into the nature of my libido.” To keep his son occupied, Henry would bring him along on carpentry jobs. Henry did repair work for a realty company, and the company’s contracts often took him – as well as Charles and his brother Henry Jr., who worked for their father – to “the white neighborhoods.” Berry noted his father paid deference to white females, avoiding any glances or conversations that might be misinterpreted as an advance or insult. He once told Charles, “Black men have often dreamed their last dream where they thought they had a right to be.” It was around this time that Berry’s interest in music intensiﬁed. All his siblings listened to blues and R&B singers Lil Green, Buddy and Ella Johnson, to the jazz orchestra recordings of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Henry James, Glenn Miller and Glen Gray. Berry developed a special liking for boogie-woogie, swing and jump blues. Among his favorites at the time were pianist Big Maceo Merriweather, gospel singer and guitarist Rosetta Tharpe, blues player Arthur Crudup, bottleneck innova-
tor Tampa Red, soft-toned and slow-paced pianist and blues vocalist Charles Brown, pianist and balladeer Nat King Cole, jumpblues bandleader Louis Jordan, and guitarists T-Bone Walker and Lonnie Johnson. The latter two – along with Jordan’s guitarist Carl Hogan – had great impact on Berry’s own later style, sometimes right down to the riff. (John Collis, in Chuck Berry: The Biography, cites Johnson’s “lefthand playing [as] the unacknowledged root of the Chuck Berry sound.”) All of the music shared a corresponding backbone: the tonality, experience and melodic patterns of blues music, as it had been developed in different places, over decades, by black musicians and singers. Whether mournful, deﬁant, seductive or celebratory, blues was the American musical language of fortitude. For many who sang and played it, it was a lifting of the mask. In 1941, Berry ventured to perform “Confessin’ the Blues,” a hit by Jay McShann, at his high school revue. A friend, Tommy Stevens, accompanied Berry on guitar, and his driving effect inspired Berry. He borrowed a friend’s four-string and practiced for hours, learning to match his voice with the instrument’s mix of rhythm and harmonic construction. He also went looking for a bit of trouble. Berry drank a half pint of whiskey one night, and though it didn’t make him drunk, it did make him sick and he swore off alcohol for the rest of his life. By the summer of 1944, he had effectively dropped out of high school. He and two friends, Skip and James, piled into the 1937 Oldsmobile that Berry now owned and headed for California. By the time the three reached Kansas City, their tires wore out. It was cold sleeping in the car, and they missed home, but had only two dollars between them. Skip told them he’d raise some money, and to wait for him in the car. In “less than half a minute,” Berry said, Skip came running back with money he’d robbed from a bakery. It was so simple, the three thought. Why not keep doing it? They would commit two more robberies and a carjacking, with Berry brandishing the remains of a useless pistol he’d found in a used-car lot, before state troopers grabbed them just outside Kingdom City, Missouri. They spent ﬁve days in county jail before Berry was allowed to call his father. Berry told the authorities everything. Henry paid for his son’s defense, as well as that of Skip and James. Twenty-two days later, their lawyer advised all three to plead guilty and throw themselves on the judge’s mercy. But these were young black men who had been terribly foolish. The trial lasted 21 minutes, and the judge sentenced each adolescent to 10 years, the maximum allowed. Berry
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Chuck Berry 1926-2017 ended up in Algoa, near the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City. In Algoa, Berry made friends with a prison ringleader, and that helped keep him safe. Black and white inmates were housed in separate dormitories, governed respectively by black and white guards. It was compulsory to call the white guards sir, and black inmates received greater punishments for infractions than whites, and fewer privileges. One white guard, “from the lynching city of Sikeston, Missouri,” scared even Berry’s ringleader. Berry later wrote of the guard: “I could feel the noose around my neck that it seemed he so hungered for in his gazing gray eyes. He couldn’t have loved me much less, but then I couldn’t have hated him a little more.” Berry organized a singing quartet for church services (Berry sang bass) and took up boxing, traveling to St. Louis for a Golden Gloves tournament. He won a medal for being the heavyweight-novice runner-
an ice cream cone. He was immediately attracted. He spent all his spare money on her that day and, come evening, drove her around in his Roadmaster. He called her by the endearment Toddy. By this time, he had also acquired his own nickname: Chuck. He was taken by her kindness as much as her beauty. They were married on October 28th, 1948, and lived for a time in the waiting room of his sister’s beauty shop. Berry wrote that, early in the marriage, every night was a time of new sexual activities; he was able to indulge fantasies and fetishes with her. Chuck and Themetta’s marriage has often appeared strange to some. Though he was candid about it at points in his autobiography, he was also ﬁercely protective and private at other times. Berry, in fact, strayed from ﬁdelity maybe countless times, and more than once, it led to the biggest troubles and humiliations of his life. The encounters and affairs started early.
In June 1952, Berry’s old friend Tommy Stevens invited him to play with his trio on Saturday nights. Berry introduced a country style into their sets, singing songs like “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” and “Mountain Dew.” He developed an animated style of performing – using his long frame and spirited facial expressions as an extension of the music. The shows drew big crowds – black patrons were curious about the guy who sang hillbilly songs. The day before New Year’s Eve 1952, boogie pianist Johnnie Johnson called Berry and invited him to play with him and Ebby Hardy in a trio at East St. Louis’ Cosmopolitan Club; Johnson’s saxophonist had fallen through, and he needed a leading melodic instrument. He got more than that: He got Berry’s big personality, his swagger, his desire to sing Nat King Cole songs, country songs and blues that could drive hard one moment, then turn rivetingly elegiac. Not long after, the trio were renamed for Berry, but
“HE COULD NOT HAVE LOVED ME MUCH LESS,” Berry wrote of one white guard he encountered at Algoa prison. “But then I couldn’t have hated him a little more.” up from Algoa – but in the championship bout, he got knocked out by a bigger man, leading him to quit the ring. Back at Algoa, though, he did something even more dangerous: He danced with an assistant superintendent’s wife, a white woman who showed Berry kindness and attention. When 30 white inmates noticed, they turned into a mob and rushed for Berry. He escaped through a hall, but he and the woman had to avoid each other after the incident. She sent him a verse: “I can never have you, darling/But I’ll go on loving you.” A model inmate, Berry was paroled three years into his sentence, on October 18th, 1947 – his 21st birthday. He returned home to St. Louis and resolved to do better, to ﬁnd work and romance. He started by doing carpentry with his father and made a down payment on a 1941 Buick Roadmaster. Berry was an automobile man – cars were central to the mythos he made (and that he installed permanently in rock & roll), and they represented freedom, luxury, standing in the world, as well as the allure of sex. Young women noticed him in his new car, and though he couldn’t take any into his room at his parents’ house (where he again lived), he could take them into the back seat. At the 1948 May Day festival in Tandy Park, he spotted Themetta Suggs licking
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Because Themetta worked some hours daily that Berry did not, the time apart left him free to ramble the neighborhood, where one woman caught his eye. “My regret started before the incident was even over,” he wrote. He admitted it, in shame, to Themetta that same night. “I was overtaken,” he would write, “with intentions to thenceforth live the full life of loyalty that her love deserved.” It was not a promise he would keep. Berry worked for a time as a janitor and later studied to become a hairdresser. But he also learned that playing guitar and singing alone at clubs and parties would make him $4 a night. By the time Berry ﬁrst played St. Louis clubs, big bands had largely faded, due in part to the expense of taking them on the road. Also, smaller ensembles could accomplish the same volume and effect with electric instrumentation. As they did, swing, blues and jump melded with other sounds, dance styles and audiences, resulting in what was eventually termed rhythm & blues. In the early 1950s, St. Louis was rife with music that moved around or into that style, though boundaries weren’t clear-cut. Sounds became punchier, crooning turned much sexier, and both worked well in smaller dim-lit clubs where bands played for dancers and lovers.
he and Johnson would retain a crucial musical telepathy, a call-and-response style, trading lines, prodding or ﬁnishing each other’s musical thoughts. Berry knew he wanted to make records. In May 1955, he drove to Chicago with a friend. They visited blues joints, saw Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James, and ended the evening watching Muddy Waters at the Palladium. After the show, he asked Waters who he should see about making records. “Why don’t you go see Leonard Chess over on 47th?” Waters replied. Chess and his brother Phil were Jewish immigrants from Poland and had made Chess into America’s greatest blues label, with artists like Waters and Wolf, among others. The next morning, Berry approached Leonard as he was entering the studio building. Chess was impressed with his enthusiasm but told him he needed to hear some new music. Berry went back to St. Louis and tossed off four songs – including a nocturnal blues, “Wee Wee Hours,” and a revved-up rock & roll-style song with country overtones, “Ida May” (sometimes known as “Ida Red”). “Ida May” had been Berry’s most popular number at the Cosmopolitan Club. Writer Glenn C. Altschuler, in All Shook Up: How Rock ’n’ Roll Changed America, believes it began as an improvised take on the country song “Ida
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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: © JAY BLAKESBERG; © JOHN BARRETT/GLOBE PHOTOS/ZUMA PRESS; MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES
Red,” recorded by Roy Acuff in 1939. There had also been a jazzy version by blues singer Bumble Bee Slim in 1952. Brown Eyed Handsome Man author Bruce Pegg wrote that Berry’s rendering may have been inﬂuenced by a 1949 recording by Bob Wills, “Ida Red Likes to Boogie,” which highlighted the sort of double-stopped guitar bends Berry learned from the music of TBone Walker. Whatever the case, Berry returned to Chess a week later with a demo of his four new songs. In “Ida May,” Chess immediately heard a hit – an unusual piece of writing in all respects. It was a funny but complicated narrative about a man racing a woman in her Coupe Deville Cadillac with
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Hail! Hail! (1) Onstage with Bruce Springsteen at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1995. (2) With Jerry Lee Lewis, a fellow inductee in the Rock Hall’s original class. (3) Onstage in New York with Bo Diddley, 1972.
his V8 Ford. It’s also a tale about class and maybe race: a dark horse trying to push past a symbol of privilege and haughtiness. Plus, it’s an allegory about the rhythms of dynamic sex. The music, though, was a story all its own, opening with guitar clusters that sounded like the car’s honking horn, pro-
pelled by pushy and insistent drumming that was rock-steady yet anticipatory, launching Berry into a frenzied and slurry guitar solo that fused the economy of Carl Hogan with the feverishness of T-Bone Walker and the imagination of Lonnie Johnson. It would become the most famous and inﬂuential guitar break in history. It not only set a standard for all of Berry’s subsequent signature playing, but was also an inescapable template of form and style for artists that followed, from the Rolling Stones through Prince. Chess knew straightaway it was unlike anything else on radio. But he thought the title – whether “Ida Red” or “Ida May” – sounded too rural. According to leg-
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Chuck Berry 1926-2017 end, either Berry or Chess spotted a mascara tube that had been left in the studio and changed “Ida May” to “Maybelline,” then ﬁnally to “Maybellene,” to avoid copyright troubles. The song’s relentless rhythm drove it to Number One on the rhythm & blues charts, and in September 1955 it reached Number Five on the pop charts. In the days after Berry’s death, many writers and reports cited him as the man who invented rock & roll. The term had been around for several years, and many artists – including Fats Domino and Bill Haley – had already made music under its umbrella. In rock & roll, young listeners heard a sound made for them. It also inﬂamed cultural watchdogs who saw the music as incitement to crime and riots, and, more fearfully, as a gateway to racemixing. Berry tapped into rock’s sense of rebellion, but slyly. His songs were celebrations of youth’s new sovereignty; they were
didn’t consider that he was black. I thought he was a white hillbilly. Little did I know he was a great poet too. ‘Flying across the desert in a TWA/I saw a woman walking ’cross the sand/She been walkin’ 30 miles en route to Bombay/To meet a brown-eyed handsome man.’ I didn’t think about poetry at that time – those words just ﬂew by. Only later did I realize how hard it is to write those kind of lyrics.”
ay bel l e n e” m a de Chuck Berry a star, but he recognized that there were limits, and he always intended to work around them. He was a black man blazing a course in a white world, and it wasn’t easy. Right out of the gate, before the song was even pressed as a single, he lost twothirds of the songwriting credit to people who had nothing to do with its composition (though one of the people who appro-
outrageous and bold lyrics, he sang about the victorious allure of a black man for white women (“There’s been a whole lot of good women shed a tear/For a brown-eyed handsome man”), and ended the song with a celebration of baseball’s Jackie Robinson – who broke the game’s color barrier – hitting a home run. In 1958’s “Johnny B. Goode,” Berry essentially wrote a version of his own proud autobiography: A young black man dreamed of becoming a guitar hero with his “name in lights.” The original lyric ran, “Oh, my, but that little colored boy could play,” but, Berry said, “I thought it would seem biased to white fans to say ‘colored boy’ and changed it to ‘country boy.’ ” Some listeners – especially black listeners – didn’t always know how to place or regard Berry. Critic Gerald Early, writing days after Berry’s death, commented, “Berry is, like, say, Jimi Hendrix, a curious artist in that I can never recall him being
“I THOUGHT IT WOULD SEEM BIASED to white fans to say ‘colored boy,’” Berry would say of 1958’s “Johnny B. Goode.” “So I changed it to ‘country boy.’” also demarcations. His lyrics didn’t ﬂash switchblade imagery – rather, they drew lines by issuing rally cries: “Early in the mornin’ I’m a-givin’ you a warnin’/Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes/Hey diddle diddle, I’m a-playin’ my ﬁddle/Ain’t got nothin’ to lose/Roll over, Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news.” Berry recognized other changes in youth culture (which had never been called a culture before). He wrote about cars as symbols of freedom and acquisition; they afforded autonomy and a private place to listen to the new music while also looking for, and making, love. Teenagers had more money, license, leeway, and that metamorphosed into political capital. An age of deference was ending. The moment was epitomized by that V8 Ford motorvatin’ over the hill in “Maybellene.” “Cadillacs don’t like Fords rolling side by side,” said Berry, “because they hide half their beauty.” More important was how Berry said these things, the language he used. It was poetic, vivid, sometimes hilarious and sexy, but also implicitly threatening – and utterly original. His imagination and ﬂair set the groundwork for Dylan’s breakthroughs in “Maggie’s Farm” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues” – yet the genius of Berry’s lyrics hid in plain sight. “When I ﬁrst heard Chuck Berry,” said Dylan in 2015, “I
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priated credit, Alan Freed, also did a great deal to make the song a hit). He also found himself in a contract with Chess Records that he didn’t fully understand or trust. He said of Leonard and Phil Chess, “They weren’t honest, but they were very helpful in my career. They gave me the ﬁrst chance. That’s a beauty. To rob somebody or to not give somebody what belongs to them is not honest. So they’re both, you know. But they were good to me and cool.’’ Race, of course, was always the mitigating factor. In his autobiography, Berry recalled one incident early in his career when he showed up at a Knoxville, Tennessee, club where he had been booked to perform. The club’s manager was shocked to see him. “Maybellene” had melded its black and white identity so well that in some markets listeners assumed the singer was Caucasian. “It’s a country dance,” the manager told Berry, “and we had no idea ‘Maybellene’ was recorded by a nigra man.” He told Berry he couldn’t permit a black person to perform, as it was against a city ordinance. Berry left, then came back at showtime and listened to another band play his music. Berry never wrote overtly about race in his songs, though he sometimes coded the subject cleverly. With 1956’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” in some of his most
as beloved by blacks as he was by whites, cannot recall blacks ﬁnding his music essential to their understanding of black music. Berry’s was a kind of assimilationist music that the Ville, in the diversity of its blackness, inspired: a new way of seeing blackness as universal in its sources.” In real life, Berry wasn’t always so veiled on where he stood on the matter. He told a reporter, “You’re trying to say, ‘Is Chuck Berry black or white?’ Well, I’ll tell you, Chuck Berry is black, and he’s beautiful.” In late August 1959, while playing an Army barracks in Meridian, Mississippi, Berry let a young woman hug and kiss him a moment too long onstage, and it brought everything to an immediate halt. Young white men, who’d been thrilled to meet him before the show, surrounded Berry after the show. “I’m a Mississippian,” one man told another who was trying to protect Berry, “and this nigger asked my sister for a date!” A policeman had to rescue Berry; then, at the station, a sergeant relieved Berry of $700 he found on him, to “cover the ﬁne for peace disturbance I was being charged for.” But Berry wouldn’t accept proscriptions about race and sex. Two months before the Meridian incident, on the night of June 2nd, 1958, he was driving a peach-colored Cadillac in St. Charles, Missouri, with a
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TWILIGHT Berry in 2001
Photograph by Mark Seliger
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Chuck Berry 1926-2017 17-year-old brunette, Joan Mathis, when he got a ﬂat tire. As he was changing it, a state patrol officer pulled up, and after checking Berry’s license, searched the car. He found $1,900 in cash and a revolver that Berry brought along when he carried large amounts of money. Berry was arrested for possession of a concealed weapon, and the police encouraged Mathis to make a statement that Berry had molested her. Berry believed that local authorities wanted to charge him with violation of the Mann Act – a 1910 law claiming to combat forced prostitution and “debauchery.” The law was seldom enforced, but it had been used to prosecute boxer Jack Johnson in 1913, and was now being used against Berry. Mathis, though, insisted that Berry had not molested her. On June 20th, he received minor ﬁnes, and the matter seemed abandoned. But Berry eventually ran out of luck and demonstrated an appalling moral lacuna. On the afternoon of December 1st, 1959, during a visit to El Paso, Texas, he took his band to Juarez, Mexico, to visit strip joints. That evening, while he and the musicians were sitting in a cantina, Berry met a young woman, Janice Escalanti. He was attracted to her quietness and olive skin (he mistook her as black, but she was in fact Apache). He later claimed he believed he could employ her at his new venture, Club Bandstand, an interracial music spot he had opened in St. Louis. Berry took Escalanti back to the United States with him, and everything went to hell for a long, long time after that. Escalanti was a runaway and a prostitute, which Berry claimed not to know. She was also 14, though Berry said he thought she was of age. In Denver, she slept nude with him in a hotel bed; Berry said he never had sex with her, though she claimed they had sex in four states. Back in St. Louis, he tried to launch Escalanti as an “Apache hostess,” but, by Berry’s account, the young woman was never much interested in the work. She didn’t show up at the job when he was out of town. He ﬁred Escalanti, gave her money for a ticket home and left her at a bus station. But Escalanti didn’t want to leave. She tried to return to the club, but Berry wouldn’t accept her back. Finally, desperate, she went to the police. Detectives believed that Berry had carried the young woman across state lines for sexual purposes – a violation of the Mann Act – and arrested him on December 21st. The news went nationwide. Berry went through three trials before the matter was settled. Much to his surprise, he was convicted in the ﬁrst trial and cried at sentencing. The judge told him to stand up. “I’ve seen your kind before,” the judge said. He handed down the maximum
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ﬁve-year sentence but said it wasn’t enough for what Berry had done. He also imposed a $5,000 ﬁne and wouldn’t allow bail. “I would not turn this man loose to go out and prey on a lot of ignorant Indian girls and colored girls, and white girls, if any. I would not have that on my soul,” the judge said, adding, “I’ve never sentenced a more vicious character.” The appeals court overturned the verdict – the judge had used the word “nigra” so constantly during proceedings that his judgment was seen as racially incendiary – and ordered a new court case. Then, on May 31st, 1960, Berry stood trial for another Mann Act accusation – this one involving Mathis, who never concurred with the prosecutor’s charges. When the prosecutor asked if Mathis – who was then married – was in love with Berry, she replied, “Well, yes, I am.” By August, Berry was acquitted of all charges. But Berry still faced retrial in the Escalanti case. “Remember,” the prosecutor said in his summation, “this is Charles Berry, Chuck Berry, an entertainer. His music and entertainment is directed to who? The teenagers of the country.” Berry was again found guilty, and sentenced to three years and a $5,000 ﬁne. Berry never admitted to any sexual impropriety with Escalanti, and years later he would grow cold or angry when interviewers brought it up. He would sometimes go so far as to deny he’d done any jail time on the matter – but he did: He served one and a half years in federal prison. He believed he’d been targeted by the press and by Missouri powers that weren’t happy with his interracial Club Bandstand in St. Louis. In early 1960, Berry closed the club, then in August the same year, opened a larger facility, Berry Park, to the public. Spread over 30 acres, conceived as a country club – with an amusement park, concert area and guitar-shaped pool – and located 40 miles northwest of St. Louis (out of reach of the bias and hostility the club had received), it was an expansion of Berry’s vision of an integrated site. Berry Park thrived for years before closing in the mid-1970s. Years later, Berry sometimes lived there; it was his private refuge, and it’s where he died. Some obituaries said that after prison Berry never regained the remarkable momentum and creativity he had enjoyed in the 1950s. In truth, Berry certainly had a second life – if anything, more complicated than the ﬁrst, though at moments at least as rich. In 1964 alone, he released four of the best songs he ever wrote: “Nadine (Is It You?)” (every bit as nimble musically and lyrically as “Maybellene”); “No Particular Place to Go” (the title could have been taken as a summary of where Berry now found himself in life, plus it was a
tale of thwarted sexual desire); “You Never Can Tell”; and “Promised Land.” The last title is maybe Berry’s most paradoxical song. Written while in prison, it’s a tour of America and a man’s determination to seek a place and covenant in it. The singer is in ﬂight in the lyrics, both running from trouble and to refuge: “Somebody help me get out of Louisiana/Just help me get to Houston town/There are people there who care a little ’bout me/And they won’t let the poor boy down.” It is not a bitter song, especially coming from a man who believed the U.S. justice system had just railroaded him. It was full of fear, to be sure, but also brimming with strength. After Berry left prison, he enjoyed unexpected recognition that restored his musical reputation. The Beach Boys scored a Number Three hit with “Surﬁn’ U.S.A.,” so musically similar to Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” that Brian Wilson later gave Berry co-writing credit and royalties. Berry also enjoyed godsends from England: The Beatles recorded “Roll Over Beethoven” in 1963 and “Rock and Roll Music” in 1964 (“If you tried to give rock & roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry,’ ” John Lennon later said), and the Rolling Stones recorded several of his songs, including “Carol” and a terriﬁc rendition of the song that Berry had failed to chart in 1961, “Come On.” Berry’s mid-1960s respite, though, was short-lived. He would score one more big hit, “My Ding-a-Ling,” in 1972. The single, a call-and-response song about masturbation, proved an anomaly: It was the biggest smash of Berry’s career – Number One in the U.S. and U.K. – yet it wasn’t like anything else he’d recorded: Both the melody and lyrics were juvenile, but Berry regarded it as one of his best songs because it made him newly rich. He left Chess for Mercury in 1966, bounced back to Chess in 1970 with Back Home, then to Atco for 1979’s Rock It. None of the music along the way, except “My Ding-a-Ling,” was a commercial success, but much of it was good nonetheless, especially Back Home, San Francisco Dues (1971) and Bio (1973); Berry’s lyrical style stayed sharply poetic and original – “Tulane” (from Back Home), in particular, was as unexpected, dexterous and heartening as his best 1950s work, and there were gems, strewn and forgotten. After prison, Berry seemed resentful. “Never saw a man so changed,’’ said guitarist Carl Perkins, talking about a 1964 tour of England he had shared with Berry. “He had been an easygoing guy before. In England, he was cold, real distant and bitter. It wasn’t just jail. It was those years of one-nighters; grinding it out like that can kill a man. But I ﬁgure it was mostly jail.’’
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Berry would now grant few interviews. He had long before fired his trio members, Johnson and Hardy. They were heavy drinkers, and Berry didn’t like alcohol users, plus he found it much cheaper to tour without the expense of a band. He insisted in his contracts that booking agents or tour managers provide him with a backing band at the venue, though he would never rehearse with – and barely spoke to – the other musicians. In the early 1970s, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were one of his backing groups. “It was ﬁve minutes before the show was timed to start,” Springsteen later said. “The back door opened, and in he came. And he was by himself. And he’s got a guitar case. And that was it. I guess he pulled up in his own car.” Nervous, Springsteen asked, “Well, Chuck . . . what songs are we going to do?” Berry replied, “Chuck Berry songs.” So it went. Berry toured without bands and demanded cash in advance for years,
at Berry Park, leaving people looking at pianist Johnson in dismay. “Hey,” Johnson said, “you all know Chuck as good as I do; I’ve just known him longer.” The bad temperament carried over to the ﬁrst of two concerts at the Fox. Berry again got furious, at a sound adjustment, and yelled, “These are my songs! These are Chuck Berry songs! I’m Chuck Berry, we’re going to do it my way!” One of the crew told Pegg, “At that point, all six weeks of rehearsal goes right out the window.” Richards managed to salvage things for the second show, but nonetheless Berry came off terribly in the ﬁlm, as unreasonable and capricious. Yet he was the most magnetic ﬁgure on the stage – the stage of a theater that he had once not been allowed to enter as a black person – and he was right: These were Chuck Berry songs, and he indeed was Chuck Berry. By the time the ﬁlm was over, many came to hate Berry, but Richards was more sympathetic. “He’s a very
hard to say, though, what he really learned about himself, or even to say what truly happened. Had he been railroaded in the Escalanti incident, or had he been, as some have described him, diabolical? In December 1987, Berry was charged with misdemeanor assault in connection with an incident at New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel. What is known, as Pegg pointed out, is that Berry hit a woman in the face, causing “lacerations of the mouth, requiring five stitches, two loose teeth, [and] contusions of the face.” Berry never addressed the matter, though in November 1988 he pleaded guilty to a lesser degree of harassment and paid a $250 ﬁne. That same year, Berry bought the Southern Air Restaurant outside St. Louis. He had long thought of property investment as a means of income that might allow him to tour less. What eventually resulted was perhaps the worst disgrace of his life. Berry’s application for a liquor license was
BERRY SHOWED UP FIVE MINUTES BEFORE showtime. “Well, Chuck, what songs are we going to do?” a nervous Springsteen asked. Berry replied, “Chuck Berry songs.” until that cash policy landed him in trouble. In the 1970s, the Internal Revenue Service pored through Berry’s earnings and accused him of having evaded income taxes. He pleaded guilty, and in 1979 he was sentenced to four months in prison and 1,000 hours of community service – performing beneﬁt concerts. A month before entering Lompoc’s Prison Camp in California, Berry played for President Jimmy Carter at the White House, for the Black Music Association. “A very warm feeling for my country came over me,” said Berry. “I think I’m a different person.” He began work on his autobiography while at Lompoc. In 1986, he was among the ﬁrst group of musicians admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the Hall of Fame dinner, Keith Richards, Berry and ﬁlmmaker Taylor Hackford began a conversation that resulted in Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, a documentary centered around Berry playing the Fox Theatre in St. Louis for his 60th birthday. Richards assembled and led a band that included Eric Clapton, Johnnie Johnson, blues guitarist Robert Cray, and vocalists Etta James and Linda Ronstadt. Richards planned the shows for months, but one day, according to biographer Bruce Pegg, Berry’s mood seemed to turn abruptly and he stormed off the rehearsal set
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lonely man. . . . After living that secluded one-man show for so many years, he probably wasn’t prepared himself for how he was gonna act.” Richards also said, “He opened a door . . . and goddammit the whole world came in.” Berry loved the ﬁlm.
huck berry had a way of working against himself. He was not, like his heirs the Rolling Stones, somebody who pissed on gas-station walls in public or denounced the petty morals of those who would judge him. He was more circumspect, more closemouthed than that, but at the same time, he wanted to get by with what he could: keeping money for himself and taking pleasure in violating taboos against interracial sex. That last one was a big one: Fear of it had driven racial hatred in the antebellum South straight through the rise of Berry’s initial stardom. Berry’s ambition was a mix of fetishism and resistance – it could even be seen as idealistic, except it didn’t seem to dissuade him when others, like his wife, got hurt, or when he exploited and then tried to cast aside the underage and lostin-the-world Janice Escalanti. Of course, Berry went to prison for it; he suffered a fall that he never quite recovered from, yet later claimed himself a better person. It’s
denied, due to his record. He felt thwarted again by others’ judgments and a community’s bias. It developed, though, that Berry was accused of having installed cameras in the restaurant’s restroom, secretly recording females – some quite young – in states of undress. Pictures also emerged of Berry posing nude with young white women. Berry sued the magazine that published them, claiming that the damning images had been stolen from him. Then, dozens of women who’d been caught unwillingly in the restroom videos sued Berry. He ended up paying settlements totaling roughly $1.2 million. A rock star’s rogue sex adventures were hardly uncommon, nor was home pornography. But surreptitious taping had no license by anybody, and some of the images that made it out of Berry’s collection were pretty unforgettable, even if they involved consensual activity. One video showed a young woman nude in a bathtub while he urinated in her mouth. When Berry was done, she asked him for a kiss. “Baby, I can’t kiss you,” said Berry. “You smell like piss.” Berry’s treatment of women is the most problematic aspect of his life. In “Sweet Little Sixteen,” the excitement of young women enabled the success of male rock & roll stars. By the time of the [Cont. on 56]
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Chuck Berry 1926-2017
‘The Granddaddy of Us All’ Chuck Berry’s biggest fan – and occasional punching bag – explains how Berry set the template for rock guitar BY KEITH RICHARDS huck berry once gave me a black eye. which studio, with the right players, with Willie Dixon behind him. I I later called his greatest hit. We saw him play in New always come back to the word “exuberant” when I listen to those York somewhere, and afterward I was backstage in records. It was stunning all around – the production, the sound, his dressing room, where his guitar was lying in its the sheer energy of them. After that, he always seemed to me to case. I wanted to look, out of professional interest, be sort of searching. And doing time didn’t help. He came out a and as I’m just plucking the strings, Chuck walked in and gave different man. me this wallop to the frickin’ left eye. But I realized I was in the He was incredibly versatile in his music. He would play evwrong. If I walked into my dressing room and saw somebody ﬁderything. He was picking up guitar from the jazz guys – Charlie dling with my ax, it would be perfectly all right to sock ’em, you Christian, and deﬁnitely T-Bone Walker with that double-string know? I just got caught. work – and he was very much aware He would do things like throw me of songwriters of the standards. He offstage, too. I always took that as a was a real fan of the Nat King Cole reverse compliment, sort of as a sign Trio. I think he listened to everyof respect – because otherwise he thing, because he was just as adept wouldn’t bother with me. at country music, too. His music is He was a little prickly, but at the an incredible mixture of America. same time there was a very warm There’s Spanish in there, bayou stuff, guy underneath that he wasn’t that and swamp. willing to display. There were other When the Stones were playing times between us when we’re sitclubs, it was basically Chuck and the ting around and rehearsing, and blues – which, to me, is not that difgoing, “Man, you know, between ferent! We loved to play “Around and us we got that shit down” – and Around.” Chuck’s music is interestthere would be a beautiful, differing to play because it’s not as simple ent feeling. as it looks – and it’s also a matter of Chuck is the granddaddy of us how interesting you can make it. The all. Even if you’re a rock guitarist swing beat he used gave a different who wouldn’t name him as your ﬂavor. That’s the meaning of the roll MONKEY main inf luence, your main inf luin rock & roll: It bounced. BUSINESS ence is probably still inﬂuenced by In 1986, when we made Hail! Richards and Chuck Berry. He is rock & roll in its Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, I moved into his Berry in 1980 pure essence. The way he moved, house in Berry Park for weeks. It especially in those early ﬁlm clips; was a childhood dream come true the exuberant ease when he laid – I’m living at Chuck Berry’s house, “Chuck was not one of those down that rhythm was mystifying putting a band together with him! and something to behold. He used Steve Jordan, Chuck Leavell and players grimacing at every his whole arm to play. He used the [NRBQ’s] Joey Spampinato were note he played. He’s smiling.” shoulder and elbows. Most of us just there too, and every day was an aduse our wrists; I’m still working on venture. One night I woke up and the shoulder bit. Chuck was not one found him outside the door with this of those guitar players grimacing at enormous machine, shampooing the every note he played, which is so common among us all. Chuck’s rug at three in the morning: “It’s gotta get done!” smiling as he’s playing that shit. The scene with “Carol” in the movie was a little bit of gameBut his songwriting, man. I mean, who can come up with “Too playing on his part. He was fucking with me. He was correcting Much Monkey Business”? “Jo Jo Gunne,” “School Days,” “Back in me, but it can be slightly different every time. I thought, “Well, the U.S.A.”? And “Memphis, Tennessee” is untouchable. It’s got a I’ll just show how stoic I can be under these sorts of occasions beauty all its own, an intriguing tenderness. There’s a sort of realand do it.” ity in the plea of it – a great, poignant story – and such a beautiful When I got the call that he was gone, it wasn’t a total, unexchord sequence, beautifully played. The drums are a wonder. It’s pected shock, but I kind of got the strange feeling that I rememone of those moments you only catch now and again on record, bered when Buddy Holly died. I was in school, and this whisper and he caught it. It’s all there in two and a half minutes. started to go around the classroom. The whole class gave this colAs a budding rock & roll guitar player, his music blasted you lective gasp of horror. This was that same blow to the gut. It hit into another stratosphere. There is sort of a golden period for me harder than I expected. But Chuck certainly hung in there. Chuck’s music. When he was at Chess, he was playing in the best There’s another thing I hope to emulate.
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Riding With Chuck At home in St. Louis with the 75-year-old legend, who was still getting harassed by the cops BY MARK JACOBSON ixteen years ago, roughly on the occasion of That was another thing Chuck gave me, the horse’s-mouth his 75th birthday, I ﬂew to St. Louis to talk to Chuck testimony that even when you’re the Father of Rock & Roll, the Berry. This was per our arrangement. Chuck said there cops will still stop you for being, as Chuck said, “a color other would be none of those long confessional conversations than white.” Asked if he had ever gotten over the way so many where “the writer moves into my house and watches me white groups, the Beach Boys and Beatles included, made forbrush my teeth in my pajamas.” Instead, I was to travel to Old St. tunes out of his music, or the fact that, like Muhammad Ali, Loo at one-month intervals, chat for a couple of hours at the Blueyears were taken from the prime of his career after he was bustberry Hill club and then go home. This worked well, for a while, ed on the rarely invoked Mann Act (a law prohibiting the transChuck always appearing at the appointed place and time. Chuck port of a woman across a state line for an “immoral purpose”; might have developed a reputation Charlie Chaplin, pegged as a comover his matchless career for some munist, and the brash black boxer nasty habits, but lack of punctuality Jack Johnson were similarly acwas not one of them. Through thoucused), Chuck said, “Get over it? sands of gigs, no matter how remote Not really.” the venue, Chuck was always there, Chuck told me that, outside of his on the dot, as long as the money was family, the last thing he ever wanted up and his three standard contract to see on this Earth was the number demands were fulﬁlled: a Lincoln “1 million” inscribed in his banktown car at the airport, a Fender book. No doubt he achieved that, Bassman amp and an “able” pickwhich maybe squared things up, to up band, as in, a band “able to play a degree. It is also sweet to hear that Chuck Berry songs,” which should go the record he’d been working on for without saying, because how could the past couple of decades will come any band be a band if it couldn’t play out in June. The song list contains a Chuck Berry songs? tune called “Jamaica Moon,” which So it was a surprise when Chuck brought a smile to my face, owing did not show up to our last meeting. to an incident that occurred during BON VOYAGE Berry in 2008, Reaching him at his home at Berry our visits. At the time, Chuck had captain’s hat Park outside Wentzville, Missouri, not been in a commercial recordupon his head Chuck was cheerfully unapologetic. ing studio for 17 years. He’d been He said he hadn’t forgotten our date fooling around at home, but now he because “I never forget anything.” wanted to make “a real record.” AdHe simply decided he had other, mitting to some nervousness, Chuck It was a good song, Chuck said, more important things to do. At the entered the studio with boxes full but he’d grown to hate it: moment, he was just ﬁnishing trowof old sheet music and reel-to-reel eling a little cement on his front tapes. One page ﬂew out and ﬂut“It never made a dime.” doorstep. After that, he planned to tered to rest at my feet. pull up a chair on the lawn to “watch It was the original sheet music, it set.” “Call me capricious,” said the with Chuck’s penciled notations, for man who once allegedly ﬂicked the “Havana Moon,” one of my all-time ash of his cigarette down Keith Richards’ shirt, adding that we favorites. Not at all like the more familiar “Chuck Berry songs,” both knew he’d already given me “plenty.” “Havana Moon” tells a vernacular story of a local who falls in This was, of course, accurate. Over lunches of chicken wings love with a beautiful tourist on a tropical island. The local spends and coleslaw, Chuck, captain’s hat upon his head, had reprised most of the tune waiting for his love to return, only to have dozed his singular American journey. He had even let me drive his off when she actually arrives, not waking up until he sees her Toyota Avalon, albeit brieﬂy. The Avalon was a serious letdown boat head “for horizon.” It always gets me, that one, but before I after all that detail-rich automotive phantasmagoria described could pick the sheet music from the ﬂoor, Chuck snagged it and in tunes like “No Money Down” and “You Can’t Catch Me.” But jammed it back into its box. It was a good song, Chuck said, but there was a purpose to it, Chuck said: “In a Toyota, the cops don’t he’d grown to hate it. “It never made a dime,” he said, attributstop you as much.” ing the lack of sales to “Fidel Castro, the whole communist-Cuba Did the cops actually stop him, even now? I asked. thing down there.” He said that one day, if he got around to it, “Shit, yeah,” Chuck replied, with a ﬂash of sternness. “They he would rewrite the song as the less-controversial “Jamaica stop me. They’ll let me go after they see it’s me, but they stop me. Moon,” and put it out on a new record. It was nice to see he found Always have, always will.” the time.
FRANCOIS DURAND/GETTY IMAGES
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Chuck Berry 1926-2017
Essential Chuck The classic anthems, hits and oddities that deﬁned the sound of rock & roll guitar and inﬂuenced generations of songwriters Maybellene 1955
Rock & roll guitar starts here. Berry’s ﬁrst single perfected his pileup of hillbilly country, urban blues and hot jazz, ﬂipping the groove from “Ida Red,” a 1938 recording by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, into two manic minutes of carculture vernacular, made-up hipster lingo and overdriven double-string leads. A motorvatin’ masterpiece.
Wee Wee Hours 1955 It took Berry about an hour to write “Wee Wee Hours,” the bluesy B side to “Maybellene.” He was inspired by Big Joe Turner’s smooth “Wee Baby Blues” and a woman named Margie, with whom he fell in love when he was a teenager playing USO dances.
Thirty Days 1955
Any Old Way You Choose It
Berry’s upbeat call for a lover to come home displays both his dexterous soloing and his sense of humor; he promises to take it all the way to the U.N. if she won’t return. “It shows that I have found no happiness in any association that has been linked with regulations and custom,” he wrote of the song in his autobiography.
Roll Over Beethoven 1956 Berry wrote this anthem as an affectionate dig at his sister Lucy, who spent so much time playing classical music on the family piano that he couldn’t get a turn. But “Roll Over Beethoven” became the ultimate rock & roll call to arms, heralding a new age.
Too Much Monkey Business 1956 Tell Merriam-Webster the news: Berry invents another word, “botheration,” a catchall for modern hassles
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like work, shopping, dating, school and war. He later said he could’ve written a hundred verses without running out of things that bug people.
Brown Eyed Handsome Man 1956 Berry was inspired to write this song while touring through heavily black and Latino areas of California. “I didn’t see too many blue eyes,” he later said. He did see a good-looking Chicano man nabbed for loitering. In response, he penned one of the slyest racial allegories in rock history.
Havana Moon 1956 This story of a Cuban man missing an American woman had roots in Nat King Cole’s “Calypso Blues,” which Berry played while he was still slugging it out at St. Louis’ Cosmopolitan Club. He tried writing his own Latin song, a novelty that turned out to be one of his most haunting records.
Rock & Roll Music 1957 “Rock & roll accepted me and paid me,” Berry said. “I went that way because I wanted a home of my own.” He celebrated the music
he loved with a passionate declaration of rock’s transformative power – from its backbeat to its wailing saxes to the fact that it isn’t mambo or tango. No wonder the tune was covered by everyone from the Beatles to REO Speedwagon.
School Days 1957 Berry was 30 years old when he wrote “School Days,” but his evocation of the high school experience helped establish rock & roll as a chronicle of teen America. The lyrical details come from Berry’s own memory of growing up, and the quick rhythmic
and changes I found in classes in high school compared to the one room and one teacher I had in elementary school.”
Sweet Little Sixteen 1958 “Sweet Little Sixteen” celebrated kids, America and the power of rock & roll – an ode to an underage rock fan that included a roll call of U.S. cities. The Beach Boys ﬁtted the song with new words and called it “Surﬁn’ U.S.A.”; Berry threatened to sue and won a writing credit. When Berry died, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson
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FROM TOP: JEAN-MARIE PÉRIER/PHOTO12/POLARIS; ERIC WHITE
(1) Motorvatin’ in his Ford Thunderbird, 1964. (2) The original covers of three classic Berry singles – 1956’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” 1958’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” and 1964’s “No Particular Place to Go.” (3) The Chess 45 of “Sweet Little Sixteen.”
said, “He taught me how to write rock.”
the chance to meet a person I favor,” he later admitted.
Johnny B. Goode
Back in the USA 1959
In 1959, Berry toured Australia and witnessed the mistreatment of its Aborigine population. Returning home, he quickly recorded this tribute to American life, including skyscrapers, drive-ins, burgers and cities from New York to L.A. “Very American, very Chuck Berry,” said Paul McCartney, who cheekily copped it in 1968 as “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
“Johnny B. Goode” was the ﬁrst rock & roll hit about rock & roll stardom – speciﬁcally his own. The title character is Chuck Berry – “more or less,” as he told ROLLING STONE in 1972. Its foundational double-stop lead became a signature copied by everyone from Keith Richards on down.
Carol 1958 This hard-grooving advice song to a teenage girl was inspired by the young daughter of a woman Berry was involved with at the time. Berry’s assistant Francine Gillium looked after the girl, and their conversations about “her teenage environment” helped him ﬂesh out his lyrics about the intrigue and emotion of young love.
Around and Around 1958 The B side to “Johnny B. Goode” tells the story of a reelin’-and-rockin’ all-night party Berry and his band played that had to be busted up by the cops. The hot boogie-blues guitar solo was born during a two-hour jam session they had one night before a show – “We almost had a concert before the concert started that evening,” he recalled.
Almost Grown 1959 “Almost Grown” is pure sock-hop doo-wop, but it reads like a ﬁrst draft of “My Generation”: “Don’t bother us, leave us alone/Anyway, we’re almost grown.” The song’s background vocals come from Chess labelmates Etta James and the Moonglows – a group that at the time included a 20-year-old Marvin Gaye.
Little Queenie 1959 With a guitar intro that echoes “Johnny B. Goode” and another “Go! Go!” chorus, “Little Queenie” shows how deftly Berry could vary a theme; the song’s lyrics mix romantic swagger with introspection and a touch of self-doubt. “It’s just like me even today to wait around till it’s too late to latch on to
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Memphis, Tennessee 1959 Recorded in his office, with Berry overdubbing minimal guitar, bass and drum parts and thinking of Muddy Waters’ “Long Distance Call,” this spare lament is one of his most lyrically vivid moments – the story of domestic disruption, a phone message and a six-yearold girl with “hurry-home drops” on her cheeks.
Let It Rock 1960 Berry revives the steel-driving myth of John Henry and spins a wild tale of a craps game in a teepee on a railroad track in which everyone involved almost gets killed – all in a heated minute and 43 seconds. Live, he often stretched it to 10 minutes. The Stones covered it as the B side to “Brown Sugar.”
Come On 1961 His girl is gone, his car won’t start, his phone rings with wrong numbers. Come on! One of Berry’s most inventive arrangements, with sax, piano, bass and drums executing syncopated rhythmic steps while the guitar bounces off the walls. And that’s Chuck’s mom, Martha, joining in on the chorus.
in the movie Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, “but I know exactly what one looks like.”
No Particular Place to Go 1964
Five great Berry LPs – from a Fifties classic to a forgotten Seventies gem
The story of thwarted teenage desire was the ﬁrst Berry single to beneﬁt from his post-British Invasion visibility. Berry echoes each verse with rattling jangle. “He was singing intelligent lyrics when people were singing, ‘Oh, baby, I love you,’” John Lennon said.
You Never Can Tell 1964 Berry wrote “You Never Can Tell” while in prison for violating the Mann Act. That didn’t stop him from knocking out a ditty about a “teenage wedding” and skeptical old folks. Perhaps more interesting, the guitar hero hardly plays guitar on the song, which sports loads of piano and sax.
Promised Land 1964 A civil-rights parable about a freedom ride from the Deep South to California. Berry, who wrote it during his Sixties prison stay, struggled to verify the route in the lyrics. “The penal institutions were not so generous as to offer a map of any kind, for fear of provoking the route for an escape,” he recalled.
Tulane 1970 In the late Sixties, Berry courted the hippie market (including a ’67 live LP backed by the Steve Miller Blues Band). It didn’t work, but “Tulane” – about a couple who run a head shop that gets busted – was an endearing attempt to keep up with the times.
Reelin’ and Rockin’
Berry’s playful sense of language was never more alive than in this song – describing a quest for perfection that’s just out of reach. A man spots his future bride “walkin’ toward a coffee-colored Cadillac” and gives chase. “I’ve never seen a coffee-colored Cadillac,” Bruce Springsteen says
Originally the B side to “Sweet Little Sixteen,” this is one of Berry’s great boogiewoogie numbers, with its cascading piano lines and stop-on-a-dime verses. The song was inspired by seeing Big Joe Turner play “Rock Around the Clock” at a Chicago club. Reissued in 1972, it hit the Top 30.
CONTRIBUTORS: David Browne, Jon Dolan, Kory Grow, Brian Hiatt, Joe Levy, Hank Shteamer
CHUCK BERRY IS ON TOP 1959 Rock & roll’s instruction manual. Berry’s early Chess albums padded hits with instrumentals and also-rans. But on this one, the hits just never stopped coming – from “Almost Grown” at the start to the battle cry of “Roll Over Beethoven” on Side Two. Berry jumped styles – trickster-boasting on “Jo Jo Gunne,” proto-metal stomp on “Around and Around,” hop-scotch teen pop on “Anthony Boy” (written to appeal to Italian-Americans, at Phil Chess’ request) – and rolled it all up into a music of limitless power.
ST. LOUIS TO LIVERPOOL 1964 Released in April ’64 and titled to take advantage of his outsize inﬂuence on the Beatles (and the Stones, Kinks and Yardbirds), this was the ﬁrst of Berry’s albums to chart. It’s full of the wild jubilation of freedom – “You Never Can Tell” was cut just three months after he’d gotten out of prison, “Promised Land” a month after that. Soon enough, Berry was touring England and elsewhere in Europe, making good on his promise to “go around the world” in “Our Little Rendezvous.”
CHUCK BERRY IN MEMPHIS 1967 Berry defected from Chess to Mercury for a $60,000 advance and cut ﬁve albums in three years. This one – which ﬁnds him backed by members of the American Sound Studio house band and the Memphis Horns – is the best, with the tart twang of his guitar jumping out of bourbon-smooth soul and blues settings. “Back to Memphis” is the classic, a plea to return from the coldhearted North to the comforts of the South.
BACK HOME 1970 His return to Chess glides along on a funk-ﬁlled bottom that gives even instrumentals like “Gun” a bounce, thanks to house session man and bassist Phil Upchurch. “Have Mercy Judge” continues the story of the drug bust in “Tulane” – Tulane’s man, Johnny, is locked up, “charged with traffic of the forbidden,” and he wishes her well as the jail door slams shut. Berry had been trying this sort of tears-on-the-guitar-strings pleading blues since 1955. Here he ﬁnally nails it.
ROCK IT 1979 He’d written many coded responses to racial injustice, but here he went at it head-on – “I Never Thought” is about how much things have changed (though cops haven’t), and in the amazing “Wuden’t Me,” our hero breaks out of a Delta county jail, evades a Grand Dragon posse and hitches a ride from a trucker – who turns out to be a neo-Nazi. Original piano man Johnnie Johnson gooses the boogie, and Berry draws fresh power from the licks he was forever splitting like atoms. JOE LEV Y
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The Fıghtıng Sıde of Joan B Y D AV I D B R O W N E PHOTOGR A PH BY
Joan Baez helped invent the idea of the protest singer – and she’s still at it. The life and times of a secret badass
hen joan baez shared a bill with the indigo
Girls about 20 years ago, a young fan approached, asking for an autograph – for his grandmother. “Tell your grandmother to go fuck herself!” said Baez, who saw the show as a way to connect with a new generation of fans.
Today, in the airy kitchen of her home near Palo Alto, California, with its view of the Santa Cruz Mountains and a painting of a nude woman above the ﬁreplace, Baez winces at the memory. “I felt so awful and said, ‘I’m sorry – of course I’ll sign it.’”
THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE Baez at her home near Palo Alto, California, February
Joan Ba ez
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people laugh, so I’ll probably just put it on YouTube” – but its mere existence is, for her, a hopeful sign after a decade or more of psychic turmoil. “Whatever it has been in the past has lifted,” Baez says. “Maybe I’m grateful for Trump, because otherwise it would seem very bland. I’m not agitating enough people. When I got respectable, I got creeped out.”
a ez h a s li v ed i n her house, a rambling place hidden behind a gate, for 45 years. A wood deck – a roofless treehouse – rests atop a tree in her front yard; chickens squawk in coops in the backyard. With its cozy rooms and maze of hallways, the interior feels like a lived-in but comfortable ship. On her refrigerator, along with three Peanuts magnets, is a photo of Baez when she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in 2007. “That’s the sign they’re getting ready to get rid of you,” she says with a devilish smile. Baez has been famous for nearly six decades. Born on Staten Island, the daughter of a physicist who rejected defense work for education and paciﬁsm, she grew up in this area of California, moved with her family to a Boston suburb in the late Fifties, and began singing in local coffee shops. In 1960, when she was 19, she released her ﬁrst album, Joan Baez. A collection of traditional ballads sung in a pristine soprano, it became one of the leastlikely albums to crash the Top 20. Baez became an icon and inﬂuenced a generation of rising singers. “That album was the reason I picked up the guitar and the reason I’m a singer,” says Emmylou Harris. “There she was, alone onstage, completely composed and in control. She emerged fully formed.” Baez stayed on the same folk-purist path for her ﬁrst half-dozen records – so pure she refused to take part in a photo shoot for an album cover until 1965’s Farewell, Angelina. By then, she had moved into modern protest songs, introducing the world to the music of Phil Ochs, her brother-in-law Richard Fariña, and Bob Dylan, with whom she had a romantic relationship in the mid-Sixties. “Dylan’s songs blew people’s minds, and when Joan started interpreting them, it went to another level,” says Neuwirth. “They should give her the [Nobel] Prize!” Baez’s importance was more than just musical. She became the moral center of the anti-war and social-justice movements
that rose up in the Sixties. She sang at the 1963 March on Washington; opened the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence, in Northern California; visited Vietnam during the war; and went to jail for 11 days for participating in a sit-in at a military induction center. But by the more apolitical 1980s, Baez hit the ﬁrst of many rough patches, ﬁnding herself adrift without a record deal. She tried cutting an album with members of the Grateful Dead (she was dating Mickey Hart at the time), but it didn’t work out, partly because Jerry Garcia was deep into heroin at the time. “He couldn’t play comfortably because he wasn’t sitting close enough to the bathroom,” she recalls. “He wanted access. I didn’t realize why.” During that time, Baez tried her best to go rock & roll in other ways. She had used quaaludes in the 1970s (she blames that phase for the silly cover of her 1977 album Blowin’ Away, which pictured her in a ﬂight jacket and aviator goggles). During her time with the Dead, she took “a little tiny line” of cocaine. Anything else? “Stuffed some opium up my ass,” she says, then pauses quizzically. “Is that possible?” The memories crack her up. “I wasn’t ready for my badass period. It was a total failure.” When she met Tina Turner, then in the midst of her comeback, Turner exclaimed, “Girl, what you need is a wig!” But a resurrection wouldn’t be so easy for Baez, who had come to be seen as a humorless scold – to the point of being parodied more than once on Saturday Night Live, such as the 1986 fake game show Make Joan Baez Laugh. “My name was like a jinx,” she says. “It took years to get past that.” Never a proliﬁc writer, she found herself unable to compose new material. “When it stopped, the spigot went...,” she says calmly. “So I let it go.” In 1990, she dived into deep therapy. “I couldn’t stand my life,” she says. “It was seriously dark and painful.” From her earliest performing days, she had been paralyzed by a variety of phobias, like a fear of throwing up. For two years, she wouldn’t ﬂy, opting for trains instead. “I’d be balled up in a corner in the dressing room, shaking and nauseated. Nobody knew. I would walk out there with that little placid whatever-you-wantto-call-it thing.” Slowly, Baez began working on rebuilding her career. In 2003, she cut Dark Chords on a Big Guitar, a scrappy collection of covers of songs by Ryan Adams, Natalie Merchant and other alt-rock-ish writers. Her next studio album, 2008’s folkier Day After Tomorrow, earned her
My name was like a jinx,” she says. “It took years to get past that.
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Baez, 76, loves to play against her image as the serene, hyperserious matriarch of folk music. Resting her chin on her hand, she ﬂashes her recent metal-chick tattoo: a series of circles and arrows that rings her right wrist, from a recent visit to New Zealand with her son, Gabe. “Most mothers would say, ‘Oh, honey, really?’” she says proudly. “But I said, ‘Ooh, can I get one too?’” In 2010, when she was invited to perform at a White House celebration of music from the civil-rights era, Baez refused a request, from Michelle Obama, to sing “If I Had a Hammer.” “That is the most annoying song,” Baez says. “I told them, ‘If I had a hammer – I’d hit myself on the head. Ain’t gonna do it.’” “Joan has that rock & roll attitude toward life and freedom and love,” says singer-songwriter Bob Neuwirth, who has known Baez since her folk-club days in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the Sixties. “She has a kind of bravery that could just kick down the doors.” Baez was a ﬁxture at marches and protests, especially in the Sixties, preaching a philosophy of nonviolence. “It took a lot of courage to be nonviolent,” says Neuwirth, “especially when people had clubs, dogs, handcuffs and all that shit.” On April 7th, Baez will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The timing couldn’t be more ﬁtting. With Donald Trump in the White House, rock is entering a new protest era, and Baez is helping lead the way. Last fall, she performed at Standing Rock in North Dakota as part of the protest against the Dakota Pipeline. In January, she participated in two Women’s Marches on the same day, one in Redwood City and another in San Francisco, and she’s helping to plan a show to beneﬁt illegal immigrants (her father was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. at age two). “So many people have said to me, out of the blue, ‘We need Joan Baez right now,’” says Joe Henry, who’s producing Baez’s next LP. “She’s been ﬁercely standing where she is her whole life.” When Henry told his sisterin-law Madonna he was working with Baez, he says, she texted him: “She’s a fucking warrior hero.” Until the 2016 presidential race, Baez hadn’t written a song in 25 years. But with Trump in office, she’s cranked out ﬁve-andcounting verses of a tune somewhat in his honor. Sitting in her kitchen, she grabs a guitar and begins ﬁngerpicking a Guthrieesque melody. She starts singing – about a wall, lies, a missing wife. “Here’s what I think/You better talk to a shrink,” she sings. “You’ve got some serious psychological disorders.” When she finishes, Baez grins sheepishly. She’s not sure she wants to release it – “It’s not a good song, but it will make
Not Slowing Down
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ROWLAND SCHERMAN/GETTY IMAGES; JOHN MEDINA/LP5/GETTY IMAGES; JOSEPH KENNY/ALAMY
(1) “The king and queen of folk,” 1963. (2) Onstage with Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift in 2015. (3) At a January rally for health care, San Francisco.
a Grammy nomination. Steve Earle, who produced the album, remembers her rejecting his suggestion that she tackle a song about Muhammad Ali. “She didn’t want to sing a song about a boxer,” Earle recalls. “She has a real-life commitment to nonviolence. What’s important to her is that she isn’t accused of being inconsistent. She was a trip.” Today, Baez’s younger fans include Rhiannon Giddens, Sturgill Simpson and Marcus Mumford. When Baez took her granddaughter Jasmine to see Taylor Swift in 2015, she found herself with Julia Roberts in the VIP section, where Swift told Baez how much she admired her, then invited them onstage during “Style.” Baez has no illusions about whether the screeching fans in that arena knew who she was. “Maybe a small percentage went home and Googled me,” she says. “But it was Taylor’s show. It was gutsy of her.” For her part, Baez shimmied down the runway for the crowd: “Probably embarrassing my family. But when I hear music, I can’t not dance.”
very 30 minutes or so, a cougar sound blares from Baez’s cellphone, a reminder to drink water – essential to help preserve her voice. Whenever Baez wondered when it would be time to stop singing, she’d always recall the advice of her ﬁrst vocal coach: “Your voice will tell you.” It may be A p r i l 2 0, 2 017
telling her now. A decade or so back, as she reached her midsixties, the high notes became harder to hit. She learned how to reach those notes fast, then sing lower. “It’s all smoke and mirrors,” she says, “getting back up there and down before I make an ass of myself.” She has been playing some 60 concerts a year, but not for ﬁnancial reasons. She’s invested wisely, although she adds, “Nothing to do with weapons or destroying the planet.” Even that part of her life is wrapping up. She’s planning one last worldwide tour, next year, right after she ﬁnishes her in-progress album, for which she’s already cut covers of songs by Tom Waits, Richard Thompson, Josh Ritter and Anohni. “There’s a feeling that things are winding down, and I wanted to do one more studio effort,” she says. She’s even recording with the same acoustic guitar she used on her ﬁrst album (it has been refurbished several times). “She’s at peace with it,” says Joe Henry. “She has other things she’d like to
focus on, like her painting. I didn’t feel like it was with any regret.” With the help of a vocal therapist, Baez is learning how to loosen up her throat. “All those years you think, ‘I want it to sound like it did 10 years ago,’ ” she says. “It ain’t gonna happen. The upper voice gets less and less power to it. If the public has a problem with it, it’s their problem. I said, ‘This is it, this is me.’ ” She’s learning to isolate the high notes, and at her kitchen table, she demonstrates the bursts of power she can still deliver. “Go ahead and plug your ears,” she advises. “I mean – seriously. There’s a noise I do.” The loud, penetrating burst of sound erupts from Baez’s throat for a few seconds – an almost operatic blast of lung power. When she ﬁnishes, she smiles mischievously. “I probably broke your tape recorder,” she says. baez’s house has few obvious mementos of her career: no wall of gold records, no photos with famous friends. nstead there are paintings, by Baez, of usicians and activists. Some are in her iving room – Emmylou Harris; Baez’s ate sister Mimi – and more are in a converted pool house that’s now her painting studio. There, you’ll ﬁnd portraits of David Crosby and congressman and civil-rights icon John Lewis. The most prominent painting in the canvas-crammed room is one of a grim-faced Dylan, based on a vintage Eighties photo. “I call it his happy face,” Baez cracks. Their on-again, offagain romance in the Sixties lasted less than two years, but for fans it had serious symbolic weight. Dubbed the king and queen of folk (often to Dylan’s displeasure), they made for a commanding presence, sharing microphones at rallies and exuding a New Frontier vigor. “Her voice was like that of a siren from off some Greek island,” Dylan said recently. “Just the sound of it could put you into a spell. She was an enchantress.” By 1965, though, Dylan’s desire to move toward rock and his waning interest in protest songs helped drive them apart. Baez thinks her distaste for drugs distanced her from Dylan in the Sixties and later, during their reunion on the 1975-76 Rolling Thunder Revue. “I was the only one who didn’t do drugs,” she says of those shows. “It was the same as that trip to England,” she adds, referring to the 1965 Dylan tour documented in Don’t Look Back. “I couldn’t connect with what their brains were doing.” The specter of Dylan hovers around Baez. His and her albums are intertwined in her LP collection. She says “Diamonds and Rust,” a 1975 song about the happiest time in their relationship, is her ﬁnest creation. “The really, really good stuff comes from down deep,” she says, [Cont. on 57] RollingStone.com |
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Trump and the Pathology of Narcissism Diagnosing the president was off-limits to experts – until a textbook case entered the White House
By Alex Morris ILLUSTR ATION BY M AT T M A HURIN
t 6:35 a.m. on the morning of March 4th, President Donald Trump did what no U.S. president has ever done: He accused his predecessor of spying on him. He did so over Twitter, providing no evidence and – lest anyone miss the point – doubling down on his accusation in tweets at 6:49, 6:52 and 7:02, the last of which referred to Obama as a “Bad (or sick) guy!” Six weeks into his presidency, these unsubstantiated tweets were just one of many times the sitting president had rashly made claims that were (as we soon learned) categorically untrue, but it was the ﬁrst time since his inauguration that he had so starkly drawn America’s integrity into the fray. And he had done it not behind closed doors with a swift call to the Department of Justice, but instead over social media in a frenzy of ire and grammatical errors. If one hadn’t been asking the question before, it was hard not to wonder: Is the president mentally ill? It’s now abundantly clear that Trump’s behavior on the campaign trail was not just a “persona” he used to get elected – that
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he would not, in fact, turn out to be, as he put it, “the most presidential person ever, other than possibly the great Abe Lincoln, all right?” It took all of 24 hours to show us that the Trump we elected was the Trump we would get when, despite the fact that he was president, that he had won, he spent that ﬁrst full day in office focused not on the problems facing our country but on the problems facing him: his lackluster inauguration attendance and his inability to win the popular vote. Since Trump ﬁrst announced his candidacy, his extreme disagreeableness, his loose relationship with the truth and his trigger-happy attacks on those who threatened his dominance were the worrisome qualities that launched a thousand op-eds calling him “unﬁt for office,” and led to ubiquitous armchair diagnoses of “crazy.” We had never seen a presidential candidate behave in such a way, and his behavior was so abnormal that one couldn’t help but try to ﬁt it into some sort of rubric that would help us understand. “Crazy” kind of did the trick. And yet, the one group that could weigh in on Trump’s sanity, or possible lack thereof, was sitting the debate out – for an ostensibly good reason. In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson had foreshadowed the 2016 presidential election by suggesting his op-
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DAMON WINTER/“THE NEW YORK TIMES”/REDUX
ponent, Barry Goldwater, was too unstable to be in control of the nuclear codes, even running an ad to that effect that remains one of the most controversial in the history of American politics. In a survey for Fact magazine, more than 2,000 psychiatrists weighed in, many of them seeing pathology in Goldwater’s supposed potty-training woes, in his supposed latent homosexuality and in his Cold War paranoia. This was back in the Freudian days of psychiatry, when any odd-duck characteristic was fair game for psychiatric dissection, before the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders cleaned house and gave a clear set of criteria (none of which includes potty training, by the way) for a limited number of possible disorders. Goldwater lost the election, sued Fact and won his suit. The American Psychiatric Association was so embarrassed that it instituted the so-called Goldwater Rule, stating that it is “un- HEAD CASE According to one expert, Trump potentially suffers from “malignant narcissism,” a term used to describe the relatively rare combination of narcissistic, paranoid and antisocial personality disorders. ethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he respects women more than I do”; or she has conducted an examination” of But of course, something did come of “There’s nobody who’s done so much the person under question. it, and so on February 13th, Dodes and for equality as I have”). All the same, as Trump’s candidacy 34 other psychiatrists, psychologists and 2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of snowballed, many in the mental-health social workers published a letter in The unlimited success, power, brilliance, community, observing what they believed New York Times stating that “Mr. Trump’s beauty or ideal love (“I alone can ﬁx it”; to be clear signs of pathology, bristled at speech and actions make him incapable of “It’s very hard for them to attack me on the limitations of the Goldwater guide- safely serving as president.” As Dodes tells looks, because I’m so good-looking”). lines. “It seems to function as a gag rule,” me, “This is not a policy matter at all. It is 3. Believes that he or she is “special” says Claire Pouncey, a psychiatrist who continuous behavior that the whole counand unique and can only be underco-authored a paper in The Journal of try can see that indicates speciﬁc kinds of stood by, or should associate with, the American Academy of Psychiatry and limitations, or problems in his mind. So to other special or high-status people or Law, which argued that upholding Gold- say that those people who are most expert institutions (“Part of the beauty of me water “inhibits potentially valuable edu- in human psychology can’t comment on it is that I’m very rich”). cational efforts and psychiatric opinions is nonsensical.” In their letter, the mental4. Requires excessive admiration about potentially dangerous public fig- health experts did not go so far as to prof(“They said it was the biggest standures.” Many called on the organizations fer a diagnosis, but the affliction that has ing ovation since Peyton Manning had that traffic in the psychological well-being gotten the most play in the days since is a won the Super Bowl”). of Americans – like the American Psychi- form of narcissism so extreme that it af5. Has a sense of entitlement (“When atric Association, the American Psycho- fects a person’s ability to function: narcisyou’re a star, they let you do it. You can logical Association, the National Associa- sistic personality disorder. do anything. Grab them by the pussy”). tion of Social Workers and the American he most cur rent itera6. Is interpersonally exploitative (see Psychoanalytic Association – to sound an tion of the DSM classiﬁes narabove). alarm. “A lot of us were working as hard 7. Lacks empathy, is unwilling to reccissistic personality disorder as we could to try to get organizations ognize or identify with the feelings as: “A pervasive pattern of to speak out during the campaign,” says and needs of others (“He’s not a war grandiosity (in fantasy or beLance Dodes, a psychoanalyst and former hero . . . he was captured. I like people professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medi- havior), need for admiration, and lack of that weren’t captured”). cal School. “I mean, there was certainly a empathy, beginning by early adulthood 8. Is often envious of others or believes sense that somebody had to speak up.” But and present in a variety of contexts.” A dithat others are envious of him or her none of the organizations wanted to violate agnosis would also require ﬁve or more of (“I’m the president, and you’re not”). the Goldwater Rule. And anyway, Dodes the following traits: 9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors continues, “Most of the pollsters said he 1. Has a grandiose sense of selfor attitudes (“I could stand in the midwould not be elected. So even though there importance (e.g., “Nobody builds walls dle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, was a lot of worry, people reassured thembetter than me”; “There’s nobody that and I wouldn’t lose any voters”). selves that nothing would come of this.”
NPD was ﬁrst introduced as a personality disorder by the DSM in 1980 and affects up to six percent of the U.S. population. It is not a mood state but rather an ingrained set of traits, a programming of the brain that is thought to arise in childhood as a result of parenting that either puts a child on a pedestal and superﬁcially inﬂates the ego or, conversely, withholds approval and requires the child to single-handedly build up his or her own ego to survive. Either way, this impedes the development of a realistic sense of self and instead fosters a “false self,” a grandiose narrative of one’s own importance that needs constant support and affirmation – or “narcissistic supply” – to ward off an otherwise prevailing sense of emptiness. Of all personality disorders, NPD is among the least responsive to treatment for the obvious reason that narcissists typically do not, or cannot, admit that they are ﬂawed. Trump’s childhood seems to suggest a history of “pedestal” parenting. “You are a king,” Fred Trump told his middle child, while also teaching him that the world was an unforgiving place and that it was important to “be a killer.” Trump apparently got the message: He reportedly threw rocks at a neighbor’s baby and bragged about punching a music teacher in the face. Other kids from his wellheeled Queens neighborhood of Jamaica Estates were forbidden from playing with him, and in school he got detention so often that it was nicknamed “DT,” for “Donny Trump.” When his father found his collection of switchblades, he sent Donald upstate to New York Military Academy, where he could be controlled while also remaining aggressively alpha male. “I think his father would have ﬁt the category [of narcissistic],” says Michael D’Antonio, author of The Truth About Trump. “I think his mother probably would have. And I even think his paternal grandfather did as well. These are very driven, very ambitious people.” Viewed through the lens of pathology, Trump’s behavior – from military-school reports that he was too competitive to have close friends to his recent impromptu press conference, where he seemed to revel in the hour and a half he spent center stage, spouting paranoia and insults – can be seen as a constant quest for narcissistic supply. Certainly few have gone after fame (a veritable conveyor belt of narcissistic supply) with such single-mindedness as Trump, constantly upping the ante to gain more exposure. Not content with being the heir apparent of his father’s vast outerborough fortune, he spent his twenties moving the Trump Organization into the
spotlight of Manhattan, where his buildings needed to be the biggest, the grandest, the tallest (in the pursuit of which he skipped ﬂoors in the numbering to make them seem higher). Not content to inﬂict the city with a succession of eyesores bearing his name in outsize letters, he had to buy up more Atlantic City casinos than anyone else, as well as a ﬂeet of 727s (which he also slapped with his name) and the world’s third-biggest yacht (despite professing to not like boats). Meanwhile, to make sure that none of this escaped notice, he sometimes pretended to be his own publicist, peppering the press with unsolicited information about his business conquests and his sexual prowess. “The most f lorid demonstration of [his narcissism] was around the sex scandal that ended his ﬁrst marriage,” says D’Antonio. “He just did so many things to call more attention to it that it was hard to not rec-
ite child). Trump has a lengthy record of stiffing his workers and dodging his creditors. And nothing could be more disagreeable than the way he’s dealt with detractors over the years, ﬁling hundreds of frivolous lawsuits, sending scathing letters (like the one he sent to New York Times columnist Gail Collins with her photo covered by the words “The face of a dog!”), and, once it was invented, using Twitter as an instrument of malice that could provide immediate narcissistic supply via comments and retweets. In fact, while studies have found that Twitter and other social-media outlets do not actually foster narcissism, they have turned much of the Internet into a narcissist’s playground, providing immediate gratiﬁcation for someone who needs a public and instantaneous way to build up their false self. That Americans weren’t put off by this disagreeableness may have come as a surprise, but in a country that has turned its political process into a gloriﬁed celebrity marketing campaign, it probably shouldn’t have. America was founded on the principles of individualism and independence, and studies have shown that the most individualistic nations are, predictably, the most narcissistic. But studies have also shown that America has been getting more narcissistic since the Seventies, which saw the publication of Tom Wolfe’s seminal “Me Decade” article and Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism. In 2008, the National Institutes of Health released the most comprehensive study of NPD to date and found that almost one out of 10 Americans in their twenties had displayed behaviors consistent with NPD, versus only one in 30 of those over 65. Another study found narcissistic traits to be rising as quickly as obesity, while yet another showed that almost onethird of high school students in America in 2005 said that they expected to eventually become famous. “If there were no Kardashians, there would be no President Donald Trump,” says Keith Campbell, a professor of psychology at the University of Georgia who co-authored the book The Narcissism Epidemic. “And Trump decided to do it Kardashian-style, with no ﬁlter. When Trump and Kanye had that meeting in Trump Tower, I was like, ‘I should just quit. My work here is done.’” Still, Campbell would not label Trump with NPD. A ﬁnal DSM criterion for the disease is that it must cause “signiﬁcant” distress or impairment, which has been a sticking point for many mental-health professionals. “He’s a billionaire who’s president of the United States,” points out Campbell. “He’s functioning pretty highly.”
Of all personality disorders, narcissism is among the least responsive to treatment because narcissists do not, or cannot, admit that they are ﬂawed.
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ognize that there’s something very strange going on.” (The White House declined to comment for this article.) Based on the “Big Five” traits that psychologists consider to be the building blocks of personality – extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism – the stamp of a narcissist is someone who scores extremely high in extroversion but extremely low in agreeableness. From his business entanglements to his preference for the rally format, Trump’s way of putting himself out in the world is not meant to make friends; it’s meant to assert his dominance. The reported fear and trembling among his White House staff aligns well with his long-standing habit of hiring two people for the same job and letting them battle it out for his favor. His tendency to hire women was spun as a sign of enlightenment on the campaign trail, but those who’ve worked with him sensed that it had more to do with ﬁnding women less threatening than men (a reason that’s also been posited as to why Ivanka is his favor-
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The Liar in Chief
The January employment report shows that the private sector added 237,000 jobs last month. A lot of that has to do with the spirit our country now has.” —February 3rd
Trump has called the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report “phony” and a “total ﬁction.” But once the num-
bers served his purposes, he reversed course. Similarly, Trump touted the national debt was down $12 billion in his ﬁrst month, compared with a $200 billion increase over the same period for Obama. Both numbers are accurate, and both ought to be attributed to prior administrations. Since inauguration, Trump has also taken credit for Exxon’s “massive job program” (in the works since 2013) and Fiat Chrysler’s decision to expand in Michigan and Ohio (planned for more than a year).
When President Obama was [in Chicago] two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech,
Others maintain that making diagnoses without a formal interview is not just unethical, but impossible – that the public actions of a public persona may not align with who that person is when they’re alone at home. After Dodes’ op-ed appeared in the Times, Frances Allen, the psychiatrist who wrote the NPD criteria for the DSMIV, followed up with a letter to the editor the very next day, arguing that it was unfair and insulting to the mentally ill to lump them with someone like Trump, and that doing so would give the president a pass he doesn’t deserve. “No one is denying that he is as narcissistic an individual as one is ever likely to encounter,” Allen tells me. “But we tend to equate bad behavior with mental illness, and that makes us
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“I can’t tell you what his intent was.” But, as Sanders went on to say, “Does ignoring this reality beneﬁt the American people?” We don’t think so: Donald Trump is a shameless, brazen, baldfaced liar. He steals credit, describes the average as superlative, invents history and spins conspiracy theories. Trump even lies about the weather. Here, broken down by subject, is a selected list of Trump’s lies in office. TESSA STUART
two people were shot and killed during his speech.” —January 25th This was a tidy example of the kind of “American carnage” that took place on Obama’s watch. Only problem is, according to Chicago police, exactly zero people in the city were shot and killed that day. In Philadelphia, Trump said, the murder rate has been “just terribly increasing,” when in fact, murders have declined in Philly over the past decade, from 391 in 2007 to 277 in 2016. Nationally, Trump said, “The murder rate in our country’s the highest it’s been in 47 years,” but higher murder rates were recorded every year between 1963 and 2010. Trump also said drugs are “becoming cheaper than candy bars.” Dare to dream.
We have the alltime record in the history of Time magazine. . . . I’ve been on it for, like, 15 times this year.” —January 21st Two things: Trump has been on the cover of Time 12 times and Richard Nixon has been on the cover 55 times. Trump’s claim that he had “the biggest audience in the history of
less able to deal with the bad behavior on its own terms.” Others have been less circumspect, implying that if the DSM wouldn’t diagnose someone like Trump with NPD, then maybe it’s the DSM that’s wrong. “It’s just that one pesky impairment thing,” says Josh Miller, Campbell’s colleague and a professor and director of the clinical training program at the University of Georgia who specializes in psychopathy and narcissism. “Maybe the DSM isn’t thinking about this in exactly the right way by ignoring when something causes such widespread problems to those around them.” More specifically, Miller believes that Trump’s wealth could have shielded him from impairment that would otherwise
speeches” is likewise untrue – crowd scientists estimated 160,000 people attended Trump’s speech on the National Mall, a far cry from the 1.8 million who turned out to see Obama in 2009 (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush drew larger crowds too). As for Trump’s inauguration TV ratings – “11 million more than the very good ratings from four years ago!” – that’s true, but also a false comparison: Viewership always drops at the start of a second term. About 7 million more or Obama’s ation than s. On world affairs, alsely describes TO as “obsolete” and claims he “predicted Brexit,” when all Trump said the day before the U.K. vote was he hadn’t eally focused on it ”
be more pronounced. “He gets to present himself as an incredible businessman despite multiple bankruptcies, despite lots of signs that he is not as astute or as successful as he might be otherwise,” Miller says. “We might know more about his relational functioning if his ex-wives didn’t sign the sort of thing where getting a nice sum of money from a divorce is contingent upon not discussing the person’s behavior. He’s able to keep sycophants around him because of his money. If he was your average politician, it might be that the impairment would be much, much more apparent.” At the very least, the growing debate over Trump’s mental health raises the question of what having an NPD president would mean. “I hated President Bush,
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FROM LEFT: STEPHEN CROWLEY/“THE NEW YORK TIMES”/REDUX; EVAN VUCCI/AP IMAGES
“what should a united states senator, or an y citizen, do if the president is a liar?” Sen. Bernie Sanders mused in March. The media, elected officials, even Trump’s spokespeople have all struggled to reckon with a chronically dissembling commander in chief. Some have opted not to call Trump’s false claims “lies” at all. “Without the ability to peer into Donald Trump’s head,” an NPR reporter reasoned,
money he plans to pump into the military: “I am calling for one of the largest defense spending increases in history.” So far, Trump has called for a 10 percent increase in defense spending ($54 billion), which is “quite average,” as defense-budget analyst Laicie Heeley told PolitiFact.
You had 109 people out of hundreds of thousands of travelers, and all we did was vet those people very, very carefully.” —February 5th
Despite Trump’s insistence that the rollout was “very smooth,” an estimated 90,000 travelers were impacted by his executive order banning travel from seven Muslimmajority countries, which also sparked spontaneous protests across the country. After the ban was blocked, Trump claimed, “Anyone, even with bad intentions, can now come into U.S.,” even though a stringent vetting process has long been in place for asylum-seekers.
The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not inﬂuence electoral process.” —March 20th
Between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote.” —January 23rd No credible person or entit ered an
FROM TOP: PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AP IMAGES; LOCKHEED MARTIN; J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP IMAGES
Both FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers were asked by Congress: “Your agencies agree with the assessment that the Russians’ goal was to undermine the public faith in the U.S. democratic process. Is that still your assessments?” Both said: Yes.
but it never occurred to me or any of my colleagues that he was mentally ill,” says John Gartner, a psychologist who taught in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Medical School for 28 years and who has been one of the most vocal critics of upholding the Goldwater Rule in this case, going so far as to say that Trump suffers from “malignant narcissism,” a term for the triumvirate of narcissistic, paranoid and antisocial personality disorders (with a little sadism thrown in for good measure) that was invented to describe what was wrong with Hitler. “Even though I disagree with everything he believes in, I would be immensely relieved to have a President Pence,” Gartner says. “Because he’s conservative. Not crazy.”
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people have c said I am right.” T insists, howev that “ cast, none of ’em c me....They all vot Hillary.” Even Trump’ can’t muster a con defense. “The president has believed that for a while,” Sean Spicer said. “It’s a belief that he has maintained for a while oncern that oter fraud.” t his s, Trump acterize ollege ting the e. s it was the t Electoral e eagan,” as smaller y esident’s e Reagan, ve George W. Bush.
aCare will nd we will gether and ether a great are plan HE PEOLE. Do not orry!” — arch 25th
We saved $700 million-plus on an F-35 after I got involved.” —February 28th Trump had nothing to do with the price going down. Nearly a month before Trump met with the Lockheed CEO, the head of the Defense Department’s F-35 program announced the cost of new planes would be roughly $549 million to $630 million less than the previous generation. At the same time, Trump has lied about how much more
f course, having a mental illness, in and of itself, wouldn’t necessarily make Trump unqualified for the presidency. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease found that 18 of the ﬁrst 37 presidents met criteria for having a psychiatric disorder, from depression (24 percent) and anxiety (eight percent) to alcoholism (eight percent) and bipolar disorder (eight percent). Ten of them exhibited symptoms while in office, and one of those 10 was arguably our best president, Abraham Lincoln, who suffered from deep depression (though, considering the death of his son and the state of the nation, who could blame him?).
ying the ” but the Congressional Budget Ofﬁce describes the program as “stable.” He has cited a 116 percent premium hike in Arizona as evidence of a failing system, but the average state will see only a 25 percent increase this year, which experts believe is likely part of a one-time market correction. Trump also promised his health care plan would amount to “insurance for everybody,” but the CBO estimated his bill would have left about 24 million Americans without insurance. Trump also said that bill would pass “pretty quickly,” even though the last whip count found only 150 Republicans supported it, well shy of the 215 needed. It failed.
The problem is that, when it comes to leadership, all pathologies are not created equal. Some, like depression, though debilitating, do not typically lead to psychosis or risky decision-making and are mainly unpleasant only for the person suffering them, as well as perhaps for their close friends and family. Others, like alcoholism, can be more dicey: In 1969, Nixon got so sloshed that he ordered a nuclear attack against North Korea (in anticipation of just such an event, his defense secretary had supposedly warned the military not to act on White House orders without approval from either himself or the secretary of state). When it comes to presidents, and perhaps all politicians, some level of narcis-
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sism is par for the course. Based on a 2013 study of U.S. presidents from Washington to George W. Bush, many of our chief executives with narcissistic traits shared what is called “emergent leadership,” or a keen ability to get elected. They can be charming and charismatic. They dominate. They entertain. They project strength and confidence. They’re good at convincing people, at least initially, that they actually are as awesome as they think they are. (Despite what a narcissist might believe, research shows they are usually no betterlooking, more intelligent or talented than the average person – though when they are, their narcissism is better tolerated.) In fact, a narcissist’s brash leadership has been shown to be particularly attractive in times of perceived upheaval, which means that it beneﬁts a narcissist to promote ideas of chaos and to identify a common enemy, or, if need be, create one. “They’re going to want attention, and they’re going to get attention by making big public changes and having bold leadership,” says Campbell. “So if things are going well, a narcissistic leader’s probably not what you want. If things aren’t going well, you’re like, ‘Eh, let’s roll the dice. Let’s get this person out there to just make some big changes and shake things up.’ And then we pray to God it works.” It doesn’t always. Ironically, for a man who ran on the platform to “Make America Great Again,” narcissists may have a better chance of getting elected when things are going poorly, but they actually appear to perform better when things are going well – and they can take the credit. One of the questions on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, which is used to assess narcissistic personality traits, asks respondents to choose between two statements: (1) The thought of ruling the world frightens the hell out of me, and (2) If I ruled the world, it would be a better place. Narcissists obviously tend to pick the latter, but that overconﬁdence actually works against them: One of the highest predictors of success is conscientiousness, but if you think you’re already the best, then why would you bother to take the time to get better? It’s easier, instead, to point ﬁngers. “Narcissistic people externalize blame,” says Miller. “I mean, Trump’s going to ﬁre [Sean] Spicer, and then it’s going to be the Cabinet. When is he going to say, ‘I should have read that more carefully. I should have taken more time to know what this treaty was’? That is not part of a narcissistic individual’s makeup, to assume responsibility for their own missteps.” Despite the obvious risks, having a narcissistic president doesn’t always end in
disaster. “Democracy’s always based in trying to work through conﬂict,” says Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton and contributor to Rolling Stone. “And a person who has a dominant personality sometimes can actually be very effective.” LBJ, who scored the highest in that study that ranked the narcissistic tendencies of U.S. presidents, had the aggressiveness necessary to push through the Civil Rights Act, but he also didn’t (or wouldn’t) do an about-face to get the country out of Vietnam. When a group of reporters pressed him for an explanation of this, he reportedly unzipped his pants, pulled out his penis and declared, “This is why.” Likewise, Andrew Jackson, who ranked third, was considered the nation’s first demagogue – a rabble-rouser who fought
probably our most unethical president, was ranked second in the study, but even he knew to conduct attacks covertly. His form of narcissism was more adaptive, more Machiavellian. In fact, many narcissists see the world as a chess game in which they must think ahead in order to maintain the advantage they feel they deserve. For this reason, impulsivity is not considered a classic trait of narcissism. Trump’s obvious rashness, then, allows for an unfortunate combination of traits. “The impulsivity and the lack of deliberate forethought about things,” warns Miller, “paired with the overconﬁdence, are the most troubling parts for me.” Another problem for narcissists on the more extreme end of the spectrum is that the skills needed to get elected are not, and have never been, identical to the skills needed to govern. “Just because you get a big job doesn’t mean that you can’t have a psychiatric disability that interferes with your ability to conﬁdently perform it,” points out Gartner. Individuals with NPD are notoriously bad at regulating their behavior or tailoring it to the situation at hand. “Every situation feels like a competition to win,” explains Aaron Pincus, a professor of psychology at Penn State who researches pathological narcissism. “Every situation feels like a stage in which to show people that ‘I’m superior, better, and they’re going to admire me for it.’” As former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank describes his impression of Trump, “I have never seen anybody in public life so focused exclusively on the trivial aspects of his own persona. I certainly have never seen anything like it in a person with a lot of responsibility.” This makes narcissists particularly vulnerable to sycophants, or at least those who feed their narcissistic supply by telling them what they want to hear. Whether Steve Bannon actually is the evil mastermind he’s been made out to be doesn’t change the fact that even Republicans seem wary of Trump’s susceptibility to him. Unelected officials gaining power through a destabilizing characteristic of a mental disorder is the sort of thing our political system was set up to combat. “It’s a sign, actually, of how severely we need functioning parties,” Wilentz says. “Because when they work, they are in fact a check on the emergence of this kind of character. You can’t get where Trump is now in a functioning party system. It took this particular political crisis, which was a political crisis, to produce a president who has this trait. Normally, we can weed them out.” For many in the mental-health field, the most troubling aspect of Trump’s per-
“I have never seen anybody in public life so focused on the trivial aspects of his own persona,” says Barney Frank. “Certainly not a person with a lot of responsibility.”
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at least a dozen duels throughout his life, who contemporaries thought would trash the White House with his unruly mob, and whose “jackass” tendencies were the inspiration for the symbol of the Democratic Party – but he paid off the national debt and pushed the nation’s expansion westward (though his Indian Removal Act led to the deaths of tens of thousands along the Trail of Tears). “Narcissistic leaders are really good and bad, meaning that they often get a lot done, but they’re also viewed as ethically challenged,” says Campbell. Meanwhile, “nice guy” presidents like Jimmy Carter are well-liked, but they aren’t viewed as particularly potent. So how might Trump measure up? According to the 2013 study, while run-ofthe-mill narcissism conveyed some beneﬁts, NPD traits usually did not, and were furthermore “related to numerous indicators of negative performance: having impeachment resolutions brought up in Congress, facing impeachment proceedings, placing political success over effective policy, and behaving unethically.” Nixon,
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STEPHEN CROWLEY/“THE NEW YORK TIMES”/REDUX
sonality is his loose grasp of fact and ﬁc- mostly false, false or “pants on ﬁre”), but it stead, he’s the most severe and toxic form of tion. When narcissism veers into NPD, it also means that he will continue to cater to mental illness that can actually still funccan lead to delusions, an alternate reality his minority base, which, Pincus contin- tion. I mean, in his ﬁrst week in office, he where the narcissist remains on top de- ues, “happen to have his ear and tell him threatened to invade Mexico, Iran and Chispite clear evidence to the contrary. “He’s he’s great. Then he’s shocked when courts cago. And thank God someone ﬁnally stood extremely quick, like nanoseconds quick, and states have a different opinion, and he up to Australia, you know? Glad someone to discern anything that could conceivably has to denigrate the courts and the states had the balls to put them in their place.” threaten his dominance,” says biographer rather than question his own position.” It Indeed, it was Gartner’s fear that “Trump Gwenda Blair, who wrote The Trumps: means that he will continually recast nega- is truly someone who can start a war over Three Generations of Builders and a Presi- tive events in his favor: “All four corporate Twitter” that led him to start a petition on dent. “He’s on it. Anything that he senses – bankruptcies, were they a sign of failure for January 26th that called on mental-health and he has very sharp senses – that could him during the debates?” asks Blair. “No, professionals to “Declare Trump Is Mentalsuggest that he is anything except 200 per- they were a sign he was smart.” And he will ly Ill and Must Be Removed,” invoking Seccent total winner, he’s got to stomp it out continue to double-down on delusions, like tion 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Conimmediately. So having those reports, for having been wiretapped by Obama, despite stitution, which states that the president example, that he did not win the popular all evidence to the contrary. should be replaced if he is “unable to disThat’s what concerns Wilentz. “We’ve charge the powers and duties of his office.” vote? He can’t take that in. There has to be another explanation. It Gartner’s petition curhas to have been stolen. rently has 40,947 signaIt has to have been some tures. Congresswoman illegal voters. It can’t be Karen Bass’ petition, the case that he lost. #DiagnoseTrump, has That’s not thinkable.” 36,743. But hav ing verif iNot that any of these able facts be “unthinkpetitions are likely to able” is, Dodes explains, make a difference. In “a serious impairment order for Section 4 to of what we call ‘reality be invoked, Congress testing,’ so it creates an or the vice president obvious risk for somealong with a majority body whose job it is to of Trump’s handpicked gather information and Cabinet would have to make decisions. It crecall for his removal, ates an inability to know which has never hapwhere you have gone pened under any preswrong because you can’t idency. A nd even if let yourself self-correct Trump did something by hearing contrary evithat war ranted imdence.” This is particupeachment, 25 Republilarly true when the incans in the House would formation is viewed as have to break ranks to an ego blow, which goes CROWD CONTROL “He’s extremely quick, like nanoseconds quick, to discern anything pass the resolution on that could conceivably threaten his dominance,” says biographer Gwenda Blair. a long way toward exto the Senate, where plaining Trump’s first two-thirds of that body day in office, his blustering assertions of su- had some very troubled presidents in our would have to condemn him, meaning that periority, the speed with which he turns on past, but their troubles are things like alco- no fewer than 19 Senate Republicans would former allies, and his selection of a wealthy holism, paranoia, you know, sort of garden- need to vote in favor of an ouster. Many and inexperienced Cabinet – a so-called variety psychological maladies,” he tells me. of those Republicans come from districts narcissistic bubble from which anyone or “This is different. This shows a dissociation where #MAGA is practically gospel, meananything that questions his dominance is from reality. We just haven’t seen anything ing that these numbers are not just dauntlike this before.” Gartner’s take is even more ing, they’re all but unthinkable. ejected. “When it comes to negative informa- pointed: “He’s acting crazy, and he’s mad n ju ne 29th, 1999, tion about themselves, narcissists devalue that other people aren’t seeing and believTrump gave a eulogy at his it and they denigrate it and they don’t ac- ing what he’s making up in his own head.” father’s funeral at Marble This dissociation from reality, paired cept it,” says Pincus. “They’ll push it away, Collegiate Church in Manthey’ll distort it, they’ll blame it on some- with Trump’s knee-jerk need to assert his hattan. Others spoke of their body else, they’ll lie about it, because they dominance, has led many mental-health need to see that superior, ideal image of professionals to feel that, no matter what memories of Fred Trump and his legathemselves, and they can’t tolerate the idea the speciﬁc diagnosis, the traits themselves cy as a man who had built solid, middlethat they have any ﬂaws or imperfections are enough to render Trump unﬁt for office, class homes for thousands of New Yorkers. or somebody else might be better than and that a shrink’s “duty to warn” overrides But his middle son, according to most acthem at something.” This not only means the Goldwater Rule in this instance. “Psy- counts, used the time to talk about his own that Trump has no qualms about lying (a chiatrically, this is the worst-case scenario,” accomplishments and to make it clear that, PolitiFact tally of candidates’ statements says Gartner. “If Trump were one step sick- in his mind, his father’s best achievement during the 2016 campaign found that only er, no one would listen to him. If he were was producing him, Donald. Presidents unite nations under narra2.5 percent of the claims made by Trump wearing a tinfoil hat, if he were that growere wholly true and that 78 percent were tesquely ill, he wouldn’t be a threat. But in- tives of what they stand [Cont. on 56]
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Youâ€™re right. I should be getting commission for this.
“2,000 years or so since Ovid taught. Night-blooming teenage rosebuds dirty talk/And I’m merely a minor fascination to/Manic virginal lust and college dudes.” —Father John Mist y, “Leaving L.A.”
The Gospel of Father John Misty The neo-folk ironist mixes brutal humor and classic melodies on a stunning LP
Father John Misty Pure Comedy Sub Pop
BY WILL HERMES
Under the guise of Father John Misty, Josh Tillman has been updating the singer-songwriter tradition for our post-ironic era, tapping and tweaking its melodicism and “sincerity.” After devoting his last FJM album, 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear, to unpacking romantic love, Tillman ups the ante on his third album to take on the whole human condition. That’s the comedy in Pure Comedy’s title track: Echoing his Seventies forebears, Randy Newman above all, he discourses on the evolutionary roots of gender inequity and our insatiable appetite for painkillers and religion. “They get terribly upset/When you question their sacred texts/Written by woman-hating epileptics,” Tillman croons, in verses that will have listeners Googling furiously as they sing along. As many of us navigate between headline-driven panic attacks and insomniac social-
Illustration by Jody Hewgill
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LISTEN NOW! Hear key tracks from these albums at RollingStone.com/albums.
Nelly Furtado The Ride Nelstar HHH½
Folky former hitmaker tries a successful reboot
Drake in Berlin
Drake’s Playful World Tour
On her ﬁrst album in ﬁve years, Nelly Furtado ﬁnds a balance between her folky history (“I’m Like a Bird”) and her pop desires. The singer sets crunchy melodies to emotional synthpop that takes cues from Dev Hynes (a.k.a. Blood Orange), who had Furtado sing on last year’s excellent Freetown Sound. The inﬂuence of producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Explosions in the Sky) is also clear. Some of the ballads are a little too wispy, but alluring songs like “Paris Sun,” a menacingly sexy track reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” but with a softer touch, suggest an artist defying the odds on the way to a career BRITTANY SPANOS rebirth.
The rapper’s sprawling ‘More Life’ is his best record in a long time Drake More Life Young Money/Cash Money HHHH Drake calls his superb new More Life a “playlist,” not an album or even a mixtape, yet that might be why it sounds so quintessentially Drake-ian. When you get down to it, Aubrey Graham is a playlist – a pop visionary with a raging appetite for his next favorite sound. This is a masterful tour of the grooves in his head, from U.K. grime (“No Long Talk”) to Caribbean dancehall (“Blem”) to South African house (“Get It Together”). The further he roams, the deeper he taps into the heart of Drakeness. Drake generously includes solo tracks for artists like Sampha and Skepta, providing killer showcases for London newcomers Giggs and Jorja Smith, as well as Atlanta gods 2 Chainz and Young Thug, who shines in totally different modes on “Sacriﬁces” and “Ice Melts.” More Life might ﬂaunt Drake’s internationalist outlook, but wherever he goes, he’s still stuck being Drake. “Passionfruit” is the pick of the litter, a Nana Rogues production with a vintage disco throb; Drake gallantly tells his special lady, “You got issues that I won’t mention for now.” (Of course he won’t – he’d have to stop brooding about his own.) That’s why one of the most effective guests here is Drake’s mom, who leaves a voicemail warning, “You know, hon, I’m a bit concerned about this negative tone that I’m hearing in your voice these days.” The woman has a point. Even Drake knows he’s most inspired when he looks beyond himself. Here, he’s wearing less and going out more – and it does ROB SHEFFIELD his music a world of good.
HHHHH Classic | HHHH Excellent | HHH Good | HH Fair | H Poor
Future Islands The Far Field 4AD HHH½
Synth-pop crew opens up its New Romantic heart
On the ﬁfth album from Baltimore’s Future Islands, frontman Samuel T. Herring continues to put a begging, pleading soulman spin on the moony aff liction of the Cure and New Order – slathering his gangly sandpaper croon all over songs like the dance-pop gallop “Ran.” The results are comically overthe-top but still warmly moving; he’s the kind of guy who can make the line “we were the candles that lit up the snow on dusty roads” seem poignant. Debbie Harry of Blondie swings by to help moan the tenderly gloomy “Shadows,” and the whole thing nicely evokes a rainy Eighties afternoon awash in heartache JON DOLAN and MTV.
Ratings are supervised by the editors of R OLLING S TONE .
BEN KRIEMANN/FUTURE IMAGE/WENN
media tantrums, Pure Comedy distills terabytes-worth of doomsaying Facebook rants into a 75-minute comic-existential opus that functions like a despair inoculation. The humor is strictly gallows, even when it seems quipped. “Total Entertainment Forever” begins, “Bedding Taylor Swift/Every night inside the Oculus Rift,” soon becoming an apocalyptic vision of a culture amusing itself to death. Our dystopian future is a through line. “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution” describes global warming apparently giving way to a new ice age: “The tribe at the former airport/Some nights has meat and dancing/If you don’t mind gathering and hunting/ We’re all still pretty good at eating on the run.” What makes this more than glib is a golden-era songwriting craft evidently shaped by Tillman’s tenure with Fleet Foxes, and his unsparing self-examination. See “Leaving L.A.,” a 13-minute antihero epic for voice, guitar and strings spiritually perched between “Desolation Row” and “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” At one point, someone issues the singer a takedown: “Oh, great, that’s just what we all need/Another white guy in 2017/Who takes himself so goddamn seriously.” That he can’t help but agree is one more nail in his coffin. Tillman has spoken about his struggles with severe depression, and you can read Pure Comedy as his attempt to wrestle with psychic malaise. On the ﬁnale, “In Twenty Years or So,” the singer orders more drinks while some pianist plays “This Must Be the Place,” Talking Heads’ classic paean to home as a psychological state. “There’s nothing to fear,” Tillman sings, soaring up to falsetto on the last word, lying through his teeth, maybe, but understanding how music keeps us sane.
© 2016. Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. All Rights Reserved. 5, Life Happens in 5, Ascent, and all afﬁliated designs are trademarks of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company or its afﬁliates. Not actual product sold in stores.
PLEASE READ - NOTICE OF PROPOSED CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
A COURT ORDERED THIS NOTICE TO BE PUBLISHED. YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS FROM THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT OF A CLASS ACTION FILED ON YOUR BEHALF. YOUR RIGHTS MAY BE AFFECTED BY THE SETTLEMENT.
A class action settlement has been reached in the lawsuit Beck v. Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc., Lake County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas No. 15CV00598. Class Members may ask for a payment, exclude themselves from the settlement, object to it, or ask to speak at the upcoming final approval hearing. More detailed information about the settlement and your options is available at www.nationalsalepricesettlement.com.
What is the Case About? Plaintiff contends that Harbor Freight improperly advertised merchandise at a “sale” or “comp at” price when the same items had not been sold at the advertised regular or “comp at” price for at least 28 of the preceding 90 days. Harbor Freight disputes this and contends that it has always complied with applicable laws.
Who is Included?
tŚĂƚŽĞƐƚŚĞ^ĞƩůĞŵĞŶƚWƌŽǀŝĚĞ If approved, eligible Class Members who timely file claims may receive either a check or a Harbor Freight gift card. The amount of compensation Class Members are eligible for will depend on the amount of their Harbor Freight purchases; whether they have supporting documentation (i.e., itemized receipts or credit/debit card statements) for those purchases; whether they opt for a check or a gift card; and the number of Class Members who submit valid claims. Visit www.nationalsalepricesettlement.com for more details about available compensation. Plaintiffs will ask the Court for attorney’s fees and expenses of up to $10,000,000 on behalf of the counsel who represented plaintiffs and the Class. Plaintiffs will also ask the Court for $10,000 in incentive compensation for Class Representative Beck.
,ŽǁŽzŽƵƐŬĨŽƌĂWĂǇŵĞŶƚ To receive a payment, you must complete a Claim Form and mail it, or submit it online, no later than August 7, 2017. To download a Claim Form or to submit a claim online, and to view instructions on how to submit a Claim Form, visit www.nationalsalepricesettlement.com.
tŚĂƚƌĞzŽƵƌKƚŚĞƌKƉƟŽŶƐ If you don’t want to be legally bound by the settlement, you must exclude yourself from the Class by mailing your request to National Sale Price Settlement, c/o GCG, PO Box 10351, Dublin, OH 43017-5551 by June 7, 2017. If you timely exclude yourself, you can’t get a payment from this settlement. If you have not excluded yourself from the Class, you may also object to the settlement by filing a notice of intent to object with the Clerk of Courts by June 7, 2017. Visit www.nationalsalepricesettlement.com for details on how to exclude yourself or to object. The Court will hold a hearing on July 7, 2017, at 1:15 p.m., at the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, 47 North Park Place, Painesville, Ohio 44077, to consider whether to approve the settlement and the requests for attorney’s fees, incentive payment, court costs, and expenses to be paid by Harbor Freight. You or your own attorney may ask to appear and speak at the hearing, at your own cost. If the settlement is approved, Class Members will release Harbor Freight from liability for the claims in this case. To learn more, visit www.nationalsalepricesettlement.com. PLEASE DO NOT CALL THE COURT, CLASS REPRESENTATIVE BECK, HARBOR FREIGHT, OR HARBOR FREIGHT’S COUNSEL REGARDING THIS MATTER.
Paying Respect to Country Music’s Original Rebel Friends and inheritors honor Waylon Jennings in tributes that match the power of his classics Various Artists Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings Sony/Legacy HHHH
It’s ﬁtting that Chris and Morgane Stapleton open this homage to Waylon Jennings – they’re a spiritual echo of Jennings and Jessi Colter, the duke and duchess of Seventies outlaw country, and emblematic of how the movement shaped generations of acts who chafe at Nashville conservatism but refuse to be marginalized. Recorded live in July 2015, this concert LP gathers Jennings’ family and friends with all-star acolytes for the rarest of things: a tribute album that almost never ﬂags, with performances that approach or match the originals. Jennings was both interpreter and writer, and when he claimed a song, he owned it. But the gender ﬂips here are illuminating: Kacey Musgraves teases the pathos from “The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want to Get Over You),” from Waylon & Willie; Alison Krauss reprises her heavenly cover of “Dreaming My Dreams With You.” Jennings’ running buddies shine, among them Bobby Bare, Willie Nelson, of course, and Kris Kristofferson, whose ravaged “I Do Believe” – Jennings’ masterpiece from their Highwaymen days – is a tear-jerker. That said, the set’s highlight is “Freedom to Stay” by Jamey Johnson, perhaps the Waylon-est of the man’s heirs (dude, where’s that new album?). Slowing the tempo to a crawl, he ponders the song’s contradictions in his stentorian, Jennings-like baritone, laying out the highly personal good-vs.bad cage match that deﬁnes the soul of the best country music, WILL HERMES and of Jennings’ in particular.
Members of the Settlement Class are individuals in the United States who between April 8, 2011 and December 15, 2016 purchased any product from Harbor Freight which was advertised with a higher reference price (e.g., “reg. $XXX,” “only $XXX,” or “comp. at $XXX”) adjacent to a lower current offering price, but which was not sold by Harbor Freight at the higher reference price for at least 28 of the last 90 days prior to purchase, excluding Harbor Freight’s employees, representatives, court officials in this case, and those already a party to a suit against Harbor Freight challenging advertised pricing.
Movies By Peter Travers
Party Girl, Godzilla Girl Colossal
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo
a godzilla-like monster on the loose in South Korea mimics the drunken gyrations of a New York party girl played by Anne Hathaway. Wait, what? You heard me. Colossal, the brilliantly bizarro brainchild of Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo, is a creature fantasy that takes satiric aim at thirtysomethings who think the world revolves around them. I know: WTF. But damn if this wildly witty and surprisingly touching swing at movie madness and gender politics isn’t on to something deep and true. Hathaway delivers a funny, fierce, fully committed performance that demands to be seen. She plays Gloria, a Manhattan blogger who boozes away her sorrows, like getting ﬁred and then kicked to the curb by her live-in BF, Tim (Dan Stevens, the Beast himself). So Gloria moves back to her old house upstate and nabs a waitress job in a bar owned by Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a for-
Directed by Joseph Cedar
Hathaway ﬁnds the demon inside.
mer classmate who crushes on her and gets her to hang with his bar buds (Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell). Then the news breaks. A kaiju colossus is terrorizing Seoul, crushing skyscrapers and killing hundreds. Gloria is horrified to see viral videos that show the creature is aping her gestures, especially when she staggers around like a blackout drunk at the park near her former grade school. It gets weirder. A monster robot also shows up in Seoul, and it seems to be copying Os-
car’s gestures. Sudeikis, a master at morphing from nice to nasty, deconstructs good-guy Oscar until he’s another male predator in Gloria’s collection. Vigalondo, a virtuoso of lowbudget wonders (Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial), has an FX ball. But his subtext makes Colossal a groundbreaker. Is it a monster mash with heart? Or is Gloria’s battle royal on a world stage a metaphor for her mind-bending journey from self-loathing to self-determination? Either way, Colossal is seriously unmissable.
A Heroic True Story Misses the Mark The Zookeeper’s Wife CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: NEON; NIKO TAVERNISE/SONY PICTURES CLASSICS; ANNE MARIE FOX/FOCUS FEATURES
Jessica Chastain Directed by Niki Caro
it’s a n incredible true story, how a Polish couple sheltered Jews during World War II in an abandoned zoo in Warsaw. It’s a shame that in adapting the book by Diane Ackerman, Angela Workman lets the dialogue run to bromides. Luckily, the stellar director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) rarely lets the action go slack. And in Jessica Chastain, Caro
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Gere Hits a New Peak
Chastain talks to the animals.
finds just the right actress to bring the title role to vivid life. Chastain is radiant as Antonina Zabinska, the wife of zoo-
keeper Jan (Johan Heldenbergh). Antonina’s respect for life, human and animal, gives her the strength to defy the enemy threat in the person of Nazi zool ogist Lutz Heck (D a n i e l Br ü h l). Caro brings astonishing visual power to a German air raid on the zoo that panics the animals. In scenes like that one, this flawed film truly encapsulates the horrors of war.
HHHH Classic | HHH½ Excellent | HHH Good | HH Fair | H Poor
t h e s u b t i t l e f or t h i s compulsively watchable film is The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer. It’s a mouthful. But Norman, written and directed by American-born Israeli Joseph Cedar (Footnote), is a spellbinder that takes you places you don’t see coming and features Richard Gere in one of his best performances ever. Gere alters his movie-star looks to play Norman Oppenheimer, a schlubby loser who’s
called a “generous Jew” by the people he helps. Roaming the streets of New York in the same cap and ratty coat (he doesn’t seem to live anywhere), Norman offers to connect people, do them favors. What’s he after? Cedar forcefully rejects the anti-Semitic stereotypes repped by Shylock and Fagin. Norman is a liar, a manipulator and often a pain in the ass. But his desire to belong is as genuine as his loneliness. He almost gets his place at the table when he befriends Israeli politician Micha Eshel (the great Lior Ashkenazi), who later becomes Israel’s prime minister. Then Norman blows it in a clumsy plot twist. Cedar says he cast Gere because he wanted “to see the character with fresh eyes.” And Gere responds with a revelatory portrayal of inner desperation and Chaplinesque poignance. For Gere, Norman is a personal triumph.
CHUCK BERRY [Cont. from 33] great “Tulane,” in 1970, he was encouraging a woman to assert control over her own success: “Go head on, Tulane, he can’t catch up with you/Go, Tulane, he ain’t man enough for you.” In truth, Berry didn’t seem to respect many women in the domain of his own desires, and combined with his well-documented volatile temperament, it could discourage those who romanticized his early heroism. This was ugly stuff. Could we still enjoy or respect his art knowing what we knew? In the days after Berry’s death, academics Catherine Strong and Emma Rush wrote, “We often connect to music because we identify with something about it, and therefore with the people who create it. To acknowledge their misdeeds can detract from our enjoyment of music. . . . At the same time, however, there is a moral imperative to include the darker side of Berry’s, like in historical accounts, obituaries and even discussion of his music. To exclude it sends the message that abuse of girls and women is unimportant and that it can be outweighed and perhaps even justiﬁed by claims of musical genius.” Berry played live well into his eighties. In November 1996, he began performing regularly – typically one Wednesday each month – at a friend’s St. Louis restaurant, Blueberry Hill. He’d play an hour, and though he was getting older – and his style of guitar was more demanding than his vocals – he still proved matchless, given that he’d invented the music he was playing. Bob Dylan said, “If you see him in person, you know he goes out of tune a lot. But who wouldn’t? He has to constantly be playing eighth notes on his guitar and sing at the same time, plus play ﬁlls and sing. People think that singing and playing is easy. It’s not. It’s easy to strum along with yourself as you are singing a song and that’s OK, but if you actually want to really play, where it’s important, that’s a hard thing, and not too many people are good at it.” In his later years, Berry often played with his family – including daughter Ingrid and son Charles Jr. “He was not a tough bandleader,” said Charles Jr. “Those shows were straight up, right on the spot, no rehearsals, nothing. We didn’t know what my dad was going to do next. When we saw the guitar neck drop, everybody stopped. When he drops his foot on the ground, stop. My dad was an 80-yearold man, although he acted more like a 50-year-old. “In January 2007, we did 17 shows in, like, 18 days. We started in Moscow. We were four hours late getting to the show. We’re pulling up, and I’m not kidding, there were 3,000 people outside. I was like, ‘They’re gonna kill us.’ But those were
56 | R ol l i n g S t o n e |
the people that couldn’t get in. It was sold out. We do the show, we’re worn out. We go from Moscow and do all these shows, end up on the Canary Islands – below zero to 80 degrees in two weeks. It would wear on him, but when it was time to do the show, he was rolling.” Berry gave his last performance on October 15th, 2014, at Blueberry Hill. He spent much of his time at Berry Park, doing yardwork like mowing the lawn and pouring cement. By then, it was more of a ghost town than a proud dream. As Hail! Hail! showed, he didn’t like prying eyes, or younger stars telling him what to do. In later years, he liked to watch the St. Louis Cardinals as Themetta sat reading her Bible. She, at least, proved loyal to the end. On March 18th, 2017, Chuck Berry was found dead of natural causes. Most everybody thought Berry had already made his last new music decades before. But in October 2016, Berry announced the completion of his ﬁnal album, Chuck, 38 years in the making. Even across such a span of time, there’s a wholeness about it, beginning with the funky blues of “Wonderful Woman” (in an aged but proud voice) and culminating with two masterpieces. “Dutchman” is the account of an old man thought to be a derelict but who was instead a great artist: “In my day and time, my music was considered superb/I wrote a song about a poor kid, raised down in New Orleans.” You come to realize that the narrator wrote that song about himself, how he squandered his genius and got destroyed. It is witty, like much of Berry’s music, but the narrative and atmosphere are spooky, almost like the man who’s telling the story got blown in from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” another tale of a man haunted by his own deeds, in need of an absolution – or at least a hearing – before his end. “Eyes of Man” is another blues groove, this time about vanity and impermanence, and derives from a poem that Berry’s father taught him, by Civil War-era poet and abolitionist Theodore Tilton, that ends every stanza with “Even this shall pass away.” Both of the latter songs are spoken, not sung, and they are shadow tales – that is, they navigate territories, just as Berry did all his life, this time between fall and rise, life and death. Berry anticipated his own shadow, his own legend, long ago. He knew what his ﬁnal words and sounds would be. He measured his last gift, and its relationship to – and expansion of – his earlier gifts. On Chuck, he rages against the dying of his light, but in a vulnerable and tender way his earlier music had not prepared us for. In the end, there was only one of him, monumental in his beauty and transgression, in his creation and fall.
TRUMP AND NARCISSISM [Cont. from 49] for, whether true or false. But a president with NPD would stand for nothing but himself, offering no narrative other than the “false self” he created. An NPD president would expect Americans to go along with his rhetoric and ignore that behind the self-aggrandizing, the unyielding drive for more and more conﬁrmation of the myth of his own greatness, he may only have his own emptiness to offer. “ ‘We’re going to do this thing, it’s going to be fantastic, amazing,’ ” Pincus paraphrases. “But there’s no substance to what he says. How are you going to do that? How is that going to be achieved?” The answer is we don’t know. The White House leaks portray an angry man who wanted to become president, but never really wanted to be president. Trump may have stormed into the Oval Office poised to make sweeping changes, but unlike LBJ or Jackson or even Nixon, he doesn’t have the political expertise or historical perspective to see the long game. The rumblings in Congress suggest widespread fears that Trump will view policy through the prism of pathology rather than in any rational, methodological, bipartisan way. So far, as Barney Frank points out, even with a Republican House and Senate, “Trump hasn’t done very much.” His immigration bans have been blocked, his budget has been ridiculed, and his rage against the GOP to repeal and replace Obamacare, or else (and with a plan that would take health care away from millions of Americans while making it more expensive for most of the rest of us), turned into nothing more than a game of chicken – which he lost – with House Republicans. “Trump’s time horizon with regard to things that affect him appears to be about 13 minutes,” Frank says. “There is an inverse relationship between people who are more focused on how things affect them personally than on public policy and their effectiveness in Congress. You can’t work with those people.” If Trump does have NPD, and the setbacks to his agenda keep coming, his magical thinking about the limitlessness of his power will only continue to clash with reality, and many in the mental-health ﬁeld believe that would only exacerbate the problem. “I think we’re actually looking at a deteriorating situation,” says Gartner. “I think he’s going more crazy.” As Dodes’ letter to The New York Times states, Trump’s attacks against “facts and those who convey them . . . are likely to increase, as his personal myth of greatness appears to be conﬁrmed.” Still, no matter how monumentally he fails in the next four years, says biographer Gwenda Blair, “there’s no doubt he’s going to think he’s done a great job. That isn’t even open to question.”
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JOAN BAEZ [Cont. from 41] “and that was how strongly I was affected by Bob in the relationship and everything. It’d be stupid to pretend otherwise. If the only thing to come out of that relationship was the best song of my life . . .” She still sings his songs onstage. “They’re the easiest and most pleasurable to sing. There’s a quality other people didn’t get to, for the most part.” In her 1987 memoir, And a Voice to Sing With, Baez recounts the last time she and Dylan played together – on a few dates on Dylan’s 1984 European tour – and includes a vignette in which Dylan comes on to her backstage, sliding his hand up her skirt. Does she regret writing that? She waves it off: “Pffffft....What’s to lose? Nothing.” She says he’s never commented to her on the book, but adds sharply, “I made two records of his music and never heard from him.” The last time Baez glimpsed Dylan was at that White House civil-rights night seven years ago. She saw Dylan and his bodyguard walking through the crowd, and a friend suggested she stroll over and say hello. Baez declined. “The chances of him just walking past me would be too awful a scenario,” she says. “It would just bring up feelings that aren’t necessary.” As for theo-
ries about why Dylan declined to personally accept his Nobel Prize last year, Baez draws a blank. “I think he’s shy. But I don’t really know. I have just enough sense to know that I won’t understand him.” Propped against a living-room wall is a painting of another of Baez’s famous exes: Steve Jobs, whom she dated for a few years in the Eighties. “We were an interesting item,” she says about Jobs. “We disagreed on almost everything. But he was sweet to me. He had a sort of boyish charm and was so alive with his discoveries. He just didn’t understand people.” Baez tells the story of the time Jobs called her in need of help: One of his employees had asked him for an opinion on a project and Jobs had told him, “It’s shit,” resulting in an upset underling. “I said, ‘There are probably other ways you could have said it,’” Baez says. “But he really didn’t know that’s not something you say without hurting someone’s feelings.” With a shake of her head, she dismisses the theory that Jobs dated Baez because of his Dylan ﬁxation. “It’s so bizarre that you have to ﬁnd some reason for it, I guess,” she says. “I was doing an interview for a ﬁlm, and the guy said, ‘So what do you think the attraction was?’ I said, ‘Me – I’m very attractive.’ Do you really need to have a Dylan connection?” She and Jobs remained
in touch until his death in 2011, and right after he died, a new iPhone 5, which she’d asked him for, showed up at her door. These days, Baez isn’t rushing into ﬁnding another partner. (She was married for five years to activist-writer David Harris; they divorced in 1973.) “I’m not going to spend a minute of my time looking for something. How would I ﬁnd that – hang up a sign?” Her daughter-in-law and granddaughter bugged her to try online dating, and begrudgingly, Baez answered questions (but didn’t use her full name or a real photo). “Jasmine said, ‘One guy seems really nice – he’s in a wheelchair, and in a home, and loves poetry,’ ” Baez recalls with a burst of laughter. “I said, ‘Are you serious? Ain’t gonna happen.’ ” She hesitates to use the word “happy” (“It seems dippy”) but will admit, “A lot of my life is joyful and pleasurable, as opposed to depressed and angsty and all the things I spent my life being.” A few days later, Baez calls back with a few additional thoughts, like her concern about global warming. Then she adds that she has a gold tooth with a diamond in it, which she had implanted a decade ago after she’d chipped a tooth. “Serious bling,” she says, deadpan. “It’s very badass.”
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THE LAST WORD
Bob Odenkirk The ‘Better Call Saul’ star on growing up Catholic, loving the Replacements, and late-breaking fame You spent nearly 30 years as a cult-favorite comedy actor and writer before getting dramatic roles in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. How surprising was that turn of events? I’m surprised at the opportunity I got. I really am. I’ll read a Better Call Saul script and think, “Are they really trusting me with this?” Breaking Bad came out of nowhere. I thought I’d show up and they’d say, “Go home. You’re not the Bob Odenkirk we’re thinking of. It’s the other one, from the Royal Shakespeare Company.” I did have a gut feeling, years ago, that in a dramatic context I could be really impactful. It’s natural for me to get earnest and honest. I have comedy friends who congenitally can’t do that, but I can. In fact, if there’s a part of comedy I love, it’s that it’s a transmission device for honesty – sometimes brutal honesty. What was your favorite book growing up, and what does it say about you? Probably On the Road. It says I was a kid in Naperville, Illinois, with a desperate desire to see the world and be near interesting people and fringe-y scenarios. Kerouac was Catholic too, and there are Catholic feelings there I relate to. How did being raised Catholic rub off on you? I have normal biceps, but my conscience muscle is a fucking hammer that can crush me or anyone around me at any time. I can experience guilt, shame and a critical, even damning, point of view of myself and everyone around me. There were times over the years when you couldn’t get projects off the ground as a writer and director. Did that get under your skin? There’s a kind of frustration that anybody who spends time in showbiz gets to experience, outside of maybe Tom Cruise. There’s an element of uncertainty and luck that runs through all we do. I had one pilot I wrote at NBC, and an executive called to say it was literally the best pilot he’d read. The same call was to tell me the pilot was not going forward. And he meant every word! You’ve gotta try not to get bitter. But yes, I’ve been bitter – and I will be again. In the movie Nebraska, your relationship with Bruce Dern’s character seemed to mirror your relationship with your father, an alcoholic who left your family when you were 12. True? It mirrored it exactly. The things I got to say in Nebraska are the things I felt about my dad. Which is . . . fuck this guy. He wasn’t there for us, and he doesn’t get to be forgiven by me. He died when I was 22, but even if he was alive today I would still feel that way. It’s not like I don’t think that people should be forgiven. But you can’t get it from everybody. “Better Call Saul” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on AMC, beginning April 10th.
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What music moves you the most? There’s no question it’s the Replacements. I still play them all the time. I play it for my kids! Their music has got a lot of anger in it. A pissed-off, teenage or youthful anger. Also, there’s a lot of pain. It’s interesting that Bob [Stinson, the band’s guitarist] was the one with the most aggrieved background, but Paul [Westerberg] wrote those lyrics that are really heartbreaking. “Go” is a great song, from Stink, that is full of alienation and sadness that I still ﬁnd easy to access and probably always will. What did you learn writing for SNL in the Eighties and early Nineties? I was surrounded by amazing sketch writers, Robert Smigel, Jim Downey and Jack Handey in particular. Just observing them got me thinking about what a sketch is and what it can be. But SNL was a frustrating experience for me. The show has its own needs, and I always wanted my own show. I envied the ﬁrst cast and ﬁrst writers – like, you guys got to have your own show! And nobody else after you gets to have that. Who are your heroes? Not a lot of heroes. Pretty much only the White Rose folks, the German college students and professor who wrote resistance pamphlets against the Nazis in 1942. Most of them got put to death. Sorry to get serious on you, but the times call for it. Who’s the funniest person you ever saw perform? Chris Farley was crack funny. Somebody explained to me how freebase felt, and that’s what it was like to watch him. It was pure, unarguable, unquestionable. It wasn’t about cleverness. There was a lot of pain in Chris, but it was an expression of joy and humanity, and it was powerful. You had a hand in his Matt Foley motivational-speaker character, right? One night we did an improv [at Second City], and he did a coach-type character. It was the [Foley] voice – “You kids, get it together!” I went home and wrote that sketch as you’ve seen it. The catchphrase, the story behind the character – that was me. It was the perfect marriage of performer and concept and writing. What’s it like going out in public now as opposed to before Breaking Bad? Mr. Show [Odenkirk’s 1990s sketch series] had a great and special audience that was also limited. I could be in public and tell which people knew who I was by how many piercings and tattoos they had. The best thing about this bit of fame I have now is everyone smiles at you. You walk into a coffee shop and you’re in your own head and you see a person smiling. “Is that for me? It is!” I wish everyone could experience that. Everyone in the world. INTERVIEW BY CHRISTIAN HOARD
Illustration by Mark Summers
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