You Can’t Always Get What You Want


Mick Jagger turns 70 this month. Did you see him and the Stones at Glastonbury? Fucking Amazing is all I can say – let’s hear it for good old fashioned rock ‘n roll, oh yeah!

I still have a copy of the Let It Bleed record and the cover has always been one of my favourites – perhaps I should frame it, it is a classic after all.

let it bleed coverThe cover displays a surreal sculpture designed by Robert Brownjohn. The image consists of the Let It Bleed record being played by the tone-arm of an antique phonograph, and a record-changer spindle supporting several items stacked on a plate in place of a stack of records: a tape canister labelled Stones – Let It Bleed, a clock face, a pizza, a tyre and a cake with elaborate icing topped by figurines representing the band. The cake parts of the construction were prepared by then-unknown cookery writer Delia Smith. The reverse of the LP sleeve shows the same “record-stack” melange in a state of disarray. The artwork was inspired by the working title of the album, which was Automatic Changer.

The album cover for Let It Bleed was among the ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of “Classic Album Cover” postage stamps issued in January 2010


It stands to reason that it is a whole lot easier to get what you want if you know what you want, right? Well, as simple as that may seem, I find that I don’t always know what I want, especially when it comes to what I want to do with the rest of my life. I always used to tell my children that although you can’t control life, you can still manage it. So I’ve decided to follow my own maxim and be more proactive in managing my life. I’m aiming for a happy balance between having a plan and going with the flow. For a while now I’ve been quite content to “wait and see” because to have a plan requires effort and a goal. But I’m starting to feel like I’m treading water because I don’t know in which direction to swim. And so the time has come to develop a strategic life plan, since:

Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.

Kenichi Ohmae

It never ceases to amaze me how, knowing that we are mortal; we continue to live our lives as if we have all the time in the world. There’s always tomorrow, or so we believe. And even worse, in my opinion, is when we put our lives on hold today because we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. Every now and then something happens that gives us a wee jolt (usually the death of a younger person) and we catch ourselves pondering our mortality. What a shame that a life is cut short we think, so much potential lost. But society tends not to view us older folk in quite the same way and we make the mistake of buying into the thinking that as we age, we become less relevant, redundant even, and we don’t have to worry about fulfilling our potential anymore. If we died tomorrow, would it be a shame, what would we have achieved if we had lived?

One of my fears is not of dying but of my quality of life being compromised. I found this quite helpful when I was looking up definitions of “quality of life”:

Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Quality of Life Research Unit define quality of life as “The degree to which a person enjoys the important possibilities of his or her life”. Their Quality of Life Model is based on the categories “being”, “belonging”, and “becoming”, respectively who one is, how one is connected to one’s environment, and whether one achieves one’s personal goals, hopes, and aspirations.

Most of the definitions I came across make reference to maximising one’s potential as crucial to having a good quality of life. I don’t want my potential to die before me but I have no idea how to discover it, let alone maximize it. So I’m looking at the good enough approach instead.

In my previous post I mentioned watching a Christmas day dawn over False Bay with some of the other lodgers in a student house in Plumstead. That flashback reminded me of one of them whose name was Simon Goodenough. He was an aspirant young musician and I remember him telling me, all those years ago (another thing that never ceases to amaze me is the litter in my brain) that he was going to record an album and call it “This is Goodenough”. I thought at the time that this was a stroke of genius – this was the 70’s after all! Anyway, it got me thinking that whatever I want to achieve, whatever my potential, it just has to be good enough for me. And perhaps just being me is already good enough.

“To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight- and never stop fighting.”

E.E. Cummings

Well, it’s a relief to have got that sorted. Now, all I need is to do is fathom out who I am. Where’s that bloody strategic plan?

our budding musician shagged out after a long squawk

student digs decor circa mid 70's

student digs decor circa mid 70’s

(pictures taken by Judy)

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One Response to You Can’t Always Get What You Want

  1. James says:

    One of my favourite ever albums. My brothers had it and it was played very loud in our music room over and over again.
    “Gimme Shelter”
    “Love in Vain” (Robert Johnson)
    “Country Honk”
    “Live with Me”
    “Let It Bleed”
    “Midnight Rambler”
    “You Got the Silver”
    “Monkey Man”
    “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
    A couple of years ago, I bought a copy at the local second hand CD shop. I think it was a trifle grey as the sound was not as I remembered it on vinyl.
    I have subsequently purchased “Rolled Gold: The Very Best of the Rolling Stones (2007)” which I’m very happy with.

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