Greatest Songs At This Moment - The Rolling Stones' "2000 Man"




Dedicated to those songs that I can't stop playing, humming, or thinking about; the four-plus minutes you fall head-over-heels in love with. Past instances have included Outkast's "Dracula's Wedding," Elvis Costello's "Little Triggers" and the Hives "Tick Tick Boom."


I am, by and large, a Scorsese Stones guy. I love nearly every era of Rolling Stones canon (I can't tell you how refreshing it was not to be crushingly irritated with A Bigger Bang), and when you're deciding between the late 60's/early 70's styles most often featured by Martin Scorsese...and the early/mid '60's tracks highlighted in Wes Anderson's work, you aren't judging on quality so much as personal taste. Do you like your Stones with more whimsy or more cock 'n' strut? Do you prefer Brian Jones or Mick Taylor? Hit makers to album makers? You can't lose either way.

But all that being said, I first got into "2000 Man" while watching Anderson's Bottle Rocket. As Owen Wilson's Dignan runs back into the botched robbery, heading for some semblance of "glory," that hard rocking middle section comes in and an idiot hasn't appeared so heroic since Forrest Gump while we all wondered, "I remember Kiss doing this tune!"

The track almost works as a bridge between the Jones and Taylor eras. It's got that "Lady Jane" otherworldly air to it, but it builds from mere atmosphere to legitimate cinema (an ability the band would absolutely nail by 1969). It's got mostly acoustic guitar at the top, with some organ (another trademark of the early Stones). The early "set-up" bit is also oddly short on riff, which is amazing to write in regards to this band, but not so amazing when you recall that Keith Richards presently has no memory of recording the album whatsoever. Assuming that half of what we've heard on Richards is true, the guy was probably not paying 100% attention in the studio. But one has to assume that Richards was all over this track because of the middle section; the kind of weird bad-ass rock that would come to generate "Monkey Man" and "Sway" in years ahead. This is the song's balls, and most of the time, Richards was the one bringing them. Jagger kept them cool, but Richards kept them kicking.

"2000 Man" also works despite the absolutely unimaginable lyrics. They're the kind of bad poetry that bad poets read and say, "...Whaaaa?" The legends around this album (both infamous and down-right balls-to-the-wall wacko) are completely validated by the lyrics and it's a credit to the Stones how they go out of their way sell this crap, even if it's all incomprehensible. In lesser hands, phrases like "Oh, Daddy, proud of your planet" and even the title "2000 Man" (is he the 2000-dth man? Is he living in the year 2000? He tells us "We know he's a 2000 man"... we did?) would garner boos or, under more reasonable circumstances, barfs. The album was crapped on by nearly every imaginable source upon its release, but I think that happened because of the obvious comparisons to Sgt. Peppers. Is this the greatest Stones record ever? Not even close. But on it, as I said, they do more with horse plop by simply oozing confidence. "Yeah, it makes no sense. But it's what we wrote down so we're singing it LOUD!" What's more, even though you don't have a clue what Jagger's singing about it's still singable simply because he believes it is. And it's the kind of singable that invites other singers, so it's an invitation to all of us to join in this idiotic chorus. It's kind of like acting high around your stoner friends even though you didn't take anything. No, not "kind of" like that... it's EXACTLY like that.

So as I write this listening to the song over and over again, loving it more with every time and wishing I'd found it first, I eye the electric guitar in the corner. I wonder how long it would take to get the tuning right, or at the least close enough (with my battery-powered tuner, not long). I'm a hair's breath away from being part of the song itself. I'm drunk again on its melody and guitar picking I can't begin to play. It would be frustrating if I didn't know that the middle section was coming; that inviting, engrossing middle section, where anyone can sing and anyone can play. Even the "fanciest" parts of this section can be fudged at full amplitude, so I do and I am whole again and for three minutes and nine seconds, I am a Wes Anderson Stones man.

Posted:
Greatest Songs At This Moment - The Rolling Stones' "2000 Man"