Archive for August 25th, 2021

Get Off of My Cloud


Rest in peace, Charlie.

Charlie Watts died yesterday at the age of of 80. He was the rock-solid base, the drummer and the keeper of all rhythms for the Rolling Stones for nearly 60 years. He didn’t have the aggressive flash of Keith Moon from The Who or the goofy affability of Ringo, the other drummers in the holy trinity of British Invasion bands. He was just a stoic, understated presence that provided, along with bassist Bill Wyman, the foundation that lifted so many great Stones songs to greatness.

Growing up in the 1960’s, I knew his work, his sound, long before I knew his name. Some of his work became hard-wired in the brains of many listeners. I know it did for me. The Stones songs that I count among my favorites invariably feature his strong rhythms out in front. Upon hearing of his death, I immediately thought of his work on many of theĀ  band’s early hits, most notably Paint It Black and Get Off of My Cloud.

The latter has been carving a wormhole in my brain since I first heard it all those many years ago. Maybe it was the idea of just telling people to back off, leave me alone and let me do my own thing that made it stick so in my mind.

That’s a powerful thing when you’re a kid.

It’s that same attitude that probably drove me to become an artist. And as I age, I find it’s the same attitude I take concerning most other things– just leave me alone. It’s a song of youth but maybe they should have done a version for old guys that substitutes the word lawn for cloud.

Hey. You. Get off of my lawn!

I don’t know about that but I do know that my brain kicks into high gear when I hear that beat-beat-fill-beat-beat lead in from Charlie Watts’ drum set on this song. Like I said, it’s hardwired at this point and whatever chemical reaction that takes place is firing down those lines instantly when those first beats come out at me.

Thanks for that, Charlie, and for a lot of other great work. It gets me through a lot of hard days.

I am playing the old mono track because it seems to push the drums further out front than the later remastered versions. Plus it reminds me of listening to this and other great songs of that era on a 45RPM single that looked just like the one at the top or hearing it from the speaker of an old Chevy as my dad drove into town.

Give a listen.

Then get off of my lawn.

And off of my cloud.

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