Exile on Adelaide Oval: Stone[s] the Crows

HQ

The piano accordion was his passion. For years he performed across the district. A livestock and grain farmer of German descent. So for Christmas his teenaged son, my mate Chris, bought him the New York City drugs and sex soaked Some Girls by The Rolling Stones.

Chris is not alone in offering such gifts. I’ve ordered SK Warne’s autobiography for our youngest, Max. The No-Shane’s-not-named-it-ironically, My Autobiography. It’s perfect for a four year old. Nevertheless, growing up in a dusty town, The Rolling Stones were the band.

Motorists had expectations of me, an adolescent working at a country servo. Smoke and steam, bonnet flung up. Returning from Cadell, the Riverland’s minimum security prison, haunted types’d ask me, “Do you think it’s the head gasket?” I was more familiar with Dollyworld in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee than lumpen V8s. And being a brash undergraduate, I once replied, between swigs of TAB, “Sorry, I can’t help you. I’m a historian.” I was nineteen.

Late every Sunday my cousin Boogly cruised down the hill past Nugget’s Clare Castle Hotel and Trotta’s Hardware to the Esso. Every Sunday I heard Boogly coming, ‘Slave’ from the Stones’ Tattoo You walloping from the speakers in his HQ Holden Kingswood. The music was ridiculous. The music was cool. We loved it.

Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it

Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it

Do it, do it, do it, do it

Don’t wanna be your slave

Don’t wanna be your slave

Don’t wanna be your slave

Genius.

Released in 1981, Tattoo You is their last good record. For their first twenty years The Rolling Stones were VVS Laxman, and for the next thirty they’ve been Jim Higgs, Test batting average: 5.55, but without the menace.

We’d be on the Hill at Adelaide Oval as Viv and Clive and then Viv’s son Richie Richardson went a-clubbing. In the drenching sunshine Nick’d emerge from the bar behind The Duck Pond banner. Juggling trays of West End draught, he’d then recite Mick’s opening to the Stones’ live record Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out, “We’re sorry for the delays. Everybody ready? Let’s really hear it for the next band, The Rolling Stones!”

Tramping into my 21st at the Kapunda Golf Club, Nick was Mick with a Union Jack flag right across his back. In the middle of a pub conversation someone’d channel Jagger, “Charlie’s good tonight.” Or,“ I think I’ve busted a button on my trousers. You don’t want my trousers to fall down, do you?”

Mum and Dad saw them in 1965 at Centennial Hall, but many preferred the support act, Roy Orbison and his operatic baritone. The Stones’ musical and biological mortality threatened, so when the 1995 concert at Footy Park was announced, I had to go. Nick prophesised, “Skeletor (Keith) probably won’t be back in Adelaide. Ever.” Who could disagree?

On an April Tuesday, I pointed my Nissan Exa at Whyalla, eluded the roos, boarded a Piper Navajo Chieftain, and sat on the forward flank as they ran through

Not Fade Away

Tumbling Dice

You Got Me Rocking

Live with Me

Sparks Will Fly

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Beast of Burden

Far Away Eyes

Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)

Rock and a Hard Place

I Go Wild

Miss You

Honky Tonk Women

Before They Make Me Run

Slipping Away

Sympathy for the Devil

Monkey Man

Street Fighting Man

Start Me Up

It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)

Brown Sugar

Jumpin’ Jack Flash.

My ultimate Stones set list? Anything from Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers. The matchless run of form in rock history. Broadly coinciding with Sturt’s SANFL flags in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974 and 1976. Finally, The Beatles, mighty as they’d been, released Let It Be; fatigued and plodding besides some scattered gems.

Ideally, they’d play Exile on Main St in its entirety. In his excellent book on the album Bill Janovich argues

Exile is exactly what rock & roll should sound like: a bunch of musicians playing a bunch of great songs in a room together, playing off of each other, musical communion, sounds bleeding into each other, snare drum rattling away even while not being hit, amps humming, bottles falling, feet shuffling, ghostly voices mumbling on and off-mike, whoops of excitement, shouts of encouragement, performances without a net, masks off, urgency. It is the kind of record that goes beyond the songs themselves to create a monolithic sense of atmosphere. It conveys a sense of time and place and spirit, yet it is timeless. 

When I was nineteen I borrowed the cassette from the State Library, played it lackadaisically in my HQ Holden (everyone in Kapunda drove a HQ) to and from uni, and rejected it. It had country music on it. I was nineteen.

Today side 2, the country side, is my favourite side of any album. Beyond the second side of Abbey Road with its illustrious song medley, or the first side of Belle and Sebastian’s Tigermilk. Exile is muddy and nocturnal. Not only are they the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band. They are the greatest country band too.

The modernised Adelaide Oval hosts The Rolling Stones as Melbourne and St Kilda meet in Round 1 at Docklands. Sympathy for the Bedevilled, or Sympathy for the Devils, who torch a dwarf?

A Showdown then follows. I’ll be in Koh Samui, but will listen to Exile as a tribute. Tex and Paddy are surely Stones men. It would be boorish to say the Power are Beiber types, so I won’t. They’re not even piano accordion fans.

Enjoy the concert. And the footy.

mick

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4 thoughts on “Exile on Adelaide Oval: Stone[s] the Crows

  1. T Bone- Thanks for that. I’m enjoying having my own site, and also contributing to the Footy Almanac. It’s good fun, isn’t it? I’m hoping to escape, temporarily, from Singapore in June, and get to the FA lunch in Melbourne. Would love to cross paths.

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  2. Howdy Mick, this story has reminded me of when you were at Wudinna and had returned after a weekend at Kapunda. You told me that you had been nabbed for speeding outside of Yunta I think it was and were that ticked off when the policeman asked you what you did for a living you replied ‘I’m an historian’ . For some reason I have never forgotten that, aah the good times at Wudinna, red wine and cricket.

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    • Hello there Craig. Thanks for that. A couple times filling out the arrivals cards when flying in and out of a country I’ve written something other than “teacher” in the occupation box. I’ve used “writer” (dreaming) but not “historian.” Might have to dust it off. As a nod to Sir Les Patterson’s wife Lady Gwen, I should write, “hand model.”

      My favourite line about wine ever was yours one Saturday after we had a substantial night on the red, and were singing so loudly that most of the town probably heard. You were lying on the couch, looked over at your wine rack groaning with bottles of shiraz, and said, “What am I going to do with all that now?”

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