"Listen. Just tell me this. Are they or aren't they going to play somewhere else? Don't tell me where. Just are they or aren't they?"
The week after the Stones played Sir Morgan's Cove, which was their next-to-last week in residence at Long View Farm, the most interesting news story did not concern the Stones directly. The Stones themselves did not do much of interest during that week, except to decide to play no further gigs, large or small, before JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, on the 27th of the month. Of extreme interest, however, was the media frenzy and general public uproar which made itself felt for seven days running — immobilizing individuals, projects, and relationships, with sometimes devastating results for the people involved.
"Will the Stones play again, or not? If so, where? For God's sake, tell us."
The telephones at Long View lit up like Christmas trees on that Tuesday morning — the day after the surprise strike at Sir Morgan's. All sorts of individuals were calling — from all walks of life. Among them, of course, were the reporters, photojournalists, and radio and TV people, who had been lashed out of bed earlier that same morning by their angry, hungry editors. Jobs were put on the line that Tuesday.
"Find out what's going on with that band. Do anything you have to. I don't care if you have to tunnel into that damned farm."
"The pressure on us is unbelievable," said Globe columnist Steve Morse. "Not just the entertainment division any longer. It's the City Desk now, and those guys play rough.
"So, anything, Gil. Anything at all. Something 'off the record' if it's got to be that way. Just don't leave me high and dry on this one."
"A little local color, maybe?"
"Anything, Gil. Anything at all."
"Well, you might call Harvey Thomasian, Chief of the North Brookfield Police Department, and ask him about the arrests last weekend. Handful of kids in a beatup old wreck tried to run the police barrier. A chase ensued, which passed by Long View Farm. The kids were apprehended at the other end of Stoddard Road by a quick-thinking patrolman — Pete Fullam. At gunpoint, I think.
"Also, call our neighbor, Stanley Stellemokus, and ask him how his cows like the music. He'll tell you they're giving more milk now, not less, ever since the Stones came. How's that, Steve?"
"Great, Gil. But I need something about the band. Listen. Just tell me this. Are they or aren't they going to play somewhere else? Don't tell me where. Just are they or aren't they?"
"Steve, I swear to you, I don't know. I'm getting the UPI and AP releases, too. I see the same things you're seeing. Boston, yes or no. Kevin White the Mayor. Providence, Lowell, New Bedford even. It's nuts. Bill Graham knows, maybe. But I sure as hell don't."
"The pressure on us is incredible. Couple of guys cracked under it. Off on the Cape somewhere, taking some time off. One guy looking for a new job. Fired."
"That's your story, Steve."
"You mean the pressure on us?"
"That's part of it. I see other parts of it, too, from where I sit. People are desperate to touch, to be touched in return — as though this would make them whole. All sorts of people — not just reporters, disc jockeys, and hopeful club owners. There are crowds gathered now at the foot of Stoddard Road. Low-flying airplanes, Steve. Helicopters with camera crews hanging out of them. Our phones don't work. They're blockaded by a massive number of incoming calls. From fans, from heads of families offering up their homes and daughters, from politicians, other rock stars, prison inmates, heads of state, little girls calling from other countries mind you.
"I had a major Boston TV station call me an hour ago, and they offered to open up their channel, live, and for as long as it took."
"Took for what, Gil?"
"For me to coax one of the Stones to step outside. They were going to helicopter a crew to the hilltop across the way, and transmit a long shot of the Farm, live, until a Stone agreed to step out-of-doors. Figured they'd have the TV sets on inside the Farmhouse, and that they'd want to play. Weirdness like that.
"There are serious disturbances of normal behavior patterns out there, Steve," I continued. "Ordinary citizens — not all of them Stones fans — have been affected. Some in a more devastating manner than others. People in our business — media people involved in spreading information and entertaining others— these are the ones who've been hit the worst. It's like a hurricane just swept through. No professional liaison is the same after as it was before. Real flux in relationships between people, in personal allegiances, in pecking orders. There's a lot of so the Stones are more important than me, going on. Careers have been enhanced, some of them. Others of them ruined. It's the chaos out of which a new order emerges. It's the chaos you're seeing this week, and that's what you ought to write your story about."
"I'm really more interested in whether or not the Stones are going to play again in the area."
"I know you are, Steve. But I still think this other stuff is more interesting. It has the feeling of the ages about it. You have a mini-social upheaval on your hands. A case study. There's a myth that's come to town, and the townsfolk are acting mighty strange. They at least give interviews."
"That's all you've got for me then, right?"
"That's all, Steve."
Steve Morse wrote the story about the social upheaval, and it was the best thing published that week in connection with the ongoing stay of the Rolling Stones at Long View Farm. It's included here, as an appendix. 1
1 Morse, Steve, Week of 19 Nervous Breakdowns. The Boston Globe, 22 September, 1981.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.