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"Gil, you're wanted downstairs immediately. They've got a real problem with some guy trying to get in. Says he's a friend of yours. Right downstairs... "



    A half an hour later the band was playing again. This time, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," a ten year old Stones classic originally produced and recorded in London by my old friend, Jimmy Miller, whom I've found fit to mention from time to time. Jimmy Miller is arguably the most creative producer ever to interact with the Rolling Stones, and was largely responsible for the slickness, polish, and pop appeal which the band took on in the early seventies. But Jimmy got tired, and was left by the wayside — a classic case of Rolling Stones "burnout." Keith wanted me to get Jimmy on the phone one night, and there was talk of having Jimmy come by Long View for an evening of reminiscences, but it never happened. I got Jimmy's wife, Jerri, on the phone instead; Jimmy was out of the country, and the idea never took shape again. Jimmy Miller played an inspirational role in the creation of Long View, which also occurred in the early seventies, although I've never told him that until now. 
    In any case, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is sounding great onstage, and the rehearsal now has a distinctly more relaxed feeling about it. Mick is much looser now, and is enjoying it more. He darts and turns in businesslike little swirls. Crisp, accurate, tight little movements. Jabs. No roundhouse punches. Either Mick thinks he doesn't need to rehearse them — those more expansive leapings-about, or he feels he can't rehearse them in the absence of an audience of a hundred thousand. The proper Yin to his Yang. 
    As for tonight's audience — the dozen or so invited guests and hangers-on — they have all re-distributed themselves along the walls, in the shadows, and on the packing cases, and their cautious, subdued chatter once again becomes a feature of the environment. I'm moving slowly around the room, being polite, and trying to save in my brain the little bits and pieces I'm hearing. 
    "Went for their lungs that year for a Boeing 707. Had a fireplace in it. Yes, a fireplace... Buffalo, then Chicago, or is it Chicago, then Buffalo? Have to ask Bill Graham... yes, the majesty of it all. History. Yes, history, too; I agree. But the majesty of that man, look... eight hundred millimeters. Ah, so. Eight hundred... expect a copy deadline of 15 October; no, youcannot edit the contact sheets... Jane would never allow that... why, London, of course. No, Louise now lives in Paris, with Steve, naturally... thirty-five million dollars, at least, and that's a pretty conservative estimate. Yes, thirty-five million... Afghanistan, I think, from the smell of it. Afghanistan, for sure... tight, little movements he's making... no, always Keith. Oh, I can assure you... Keith... ah, yes... ah, so... " 
    "Gil, you're wanted downstairs immediately. They've got a real problem with some guy trying to get in. Says he's a friend of yours. Right downstairs... " 
    It was Reed Desplaines, Night Manager at Long View, and a great devotee of law and order. Reed carried a loaded pistol under the front seat of his car until I found out about it, and asked him not to. His job was to sit in his car, down at the end of the driveway, headlights pointed down the road and over the valley. Reed would scan the fences for intruders, and would occasionally switch on his headlights, just to keep people behind the fences, and on their toes. If things got a bit weird, Reed would liaise with either Jim Callahan or Bob Bender, Stones security men, with me, and with the North Brookfield police cruiser, which would often station itself at the foot of the driveway, too, just to play safe. 
    "Who is it, Reed?" I asked, moving quickly toward the back of the rehearsal hall, and toward the staircase. 
    "How the hell am I supposed to know?" Reed shouts back. "Says he knows you, that's all I can say. Short. Little guy in a black jacket." 
    "That rules out Jack Cutrumbes," I said to myself. Cutrumbes is our next-door neighbor who said he'd been invited by Mick Jagger to attend a rehearsal. We flew down the stairs and out onto the gravel drive, where Bob Bender had someone by the upper forearm. This someone was wriggling about, and telling Bob Bender to lay off. But Bob was hanging on, and was relieved to see me. 
    "Gil. Do something. This creep says he's a friend of yours, and that you invited him to the rehearsal tonight. I don't know, man. It's nuts enough up there as it is. Mick walked off the stage an hour ago, in case that wasn't explained to you." 
    "Bennie," I said. "What in God's name are you doing here. 
    Bennie's eyes were blazing mad. He was embarrassed and scared. 
    "Listen," I assured Bob Bender. "I can handle this. He won't go upstairs. Let him go, I'll take care of it. Bennie'll be here just a few minutes, with me, and then he'll go. Won't you, Bennie?" 
    Bennie had been lowered back to the ground by Bob Bender, and was busy dusting himself off, and regaining his composure. Bender shrugged, waved to Reed Desplaines, and the two of them stalked off back toward the car at the bottom of the driveway. 
    "Anything you say, Gil," Bennie spat. "That's the way it always is. Why should it be any different tonight?" 
    "That's a hell of a thing to say," I said. I was now the one who was mad. 
    "All right," Bennie said. "I really just came here to pick up my master tapes. Gimme my tape and a bourbon-to-go and I'll get out of your life." 
    "You came here at 2 AM to pick up your tape, Bennie? You're not making things any easier for me, Bennie, I can tell you that. What tape, anyway?" 
    "The stuff we did in 1975, when John Glascock was still alive. They're upstairs in the tape library. I saw them the last time I was here. Right next to "Max Roach", for some reason. I'll get them, I know right where they are." 
    "No, Bennie," I said. "You wait here, and I'll go get them. Better still, make yourself the bourbon, and I'll be right back." 
    So I go running across the pink gravel driveway in my bare feet and my cut-off shorts, which are really Nancy's, just as the Stones lurch into the night's first version of "Miss You." I get up to the tape library the back way, through the Flat and up the stairs that guests never see. I knew where the tapes were, too. Right next to "Max Roach." Four tunes Bennie put together just after the band Carmen left. Carmen was the first band ever to use Long View, in 1975. They broke up shortly thereafter, under tragic circumstances. But they left bassist John Glascock behind, who loved it at the Farm, and who didn't want to leave. John worked in the garden with Nancy and Kathleen, and helped clear out that part of the barn which is now Studio B, shot rats with a bow and arrow, and played on Bennie's session. John left toward the end of that summer to join the Jethro Tull band, and died a couple of years later. It had something to do with drugs. One great bass player, though, I can tell you that. 
    I found the tapes — two boxes of them — and ran downstairs and across the driveway. Bennie had the Jack Daniels in a go-cup, took the magnetic tape, and headed down the driveway toward the car. He had to leave his car on the street because of the chain across the driveway entrance. 
    "Will you see Nancy?" I shouted after him. 
    "Might," said Bennie. He stopped and turned around. "Just might. Don't worry, I'll tell her you're working around the clock and can't think of anything else, and that the gig's going great. That's what I should say, right?" 
    "You could start with that, yes, Bennie." 
    Bennie turned again, walked to the Squareback, made it backfire once, and drove away down Stoddard Road with his tape boxes on the seat beside him, and the go-cup between his legs. 
    I stood there watching him disappear down Stoddard Road, and wondering why this particular price - this new and very unwelcome tension between me and my old friends - was being exacted of me in order that I might work for the Rolling Stones for two months. They didn't understand, these people. They obviously didn't understand at all. 
    "Friend of yours, Gil?" 
    It was Alan Dunn at my side, who's sarcasm I had by now grown to cherish. 
    "Yeah," I said. "An old friend." 
    Alan was smiling broadly, and we laughed for a moment, the two of us, before going back upstairs again. Alan Dunn is a very bright man.

 


 All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.