Rolling Stones Play China
November 11, 2006
The Rolling Stones played a concert in Shanghai this past April. Before 8000 in a small arena. Leery Chinese officials were opening the door to rock n roll, but they weren't opening it very wide. Perhaps imagining they could spare themselves the West's moral rot, they banned several Stones songs, among them Let’s Spend the Night Together, Beast of Burden, and Brown Sugar. Thus, Mick Jagger was forced to dig into his repertoire of wholesome songs.
He led off with Bitch.
He also tried to put nervous officials at ease with this comment:
I am pleased the Ministry of Culture is protecting the morals of expatriate bankers and their girlfriends. [only they could afford the ticket prices]
Two lessons can be drawn here.
1. There goes the neighborhood
2. Big as he is, don’t you think Mick could think of something gracious to say, something that just might result in his being invited back again, or some other rock n roll group?
Sheepandgoats is especially agrieved by this development, since he kinda likes the Stones' music. Too bad the Chinese will never hear it again.
On the other hand, the Stones could have just rolled over as did Google, agreeing to anything so as to get their foot in the door. Maybe Mick deserves some credit after all.
The NBC censors also had problems with Let's Spend the Night Together. Thus when the Stones played The Ed Sullivan show in 1967, they were told it had to be Let's Spend Some Time Together. The versatile Mr. Jagger, unwilling to comply but also unwilling to cave, sang "let's spend smnxc ndtmmd" together, slurring words at the critical moment as any self-respecting rocker can do.
Jim Morrison of The Doors was less accomodating. He not only wouldn't change his lyrics (girl, we couldn't get much higher), but lobbed an f-bomb at Sullivan personnel! (not on the air) F-bombs are common as raindrops today, but it was not so then.
The Beatles presented no such problems for Ed Sullivan or NBC. Their most provacative lyric "I want to hold your hand" was deemed acceptable to the 1964 viewing audience. The most-watched TV show ever up to that point, and still pretty hefty, was the Beatles' first American appearance on The Ed Sullivan show. They didn't hurl any f-bombs at all, they reportedly got along well with Sullivan, and the latter introduced the group one year later when they played Shea Stadium.