|Mick Jagger, Hyde Park 1969, wearing what he called 'just another frock'.|
A long time ago the idea of writing Mick Jagger's biography was planted in my mind after meeting his mother Eva. And now today, Jagger's birthday, the recollection returns. Seventy years old and strutting his stuff.
The newspapers have been full of stories about him, including this one in The Telegraph which particularly caught my attention because it refers to Jagger's failed attempt at writing his autobiography. It seems that he cannot come up with anything interesting about his life; his one early attempt was returned by his publisher for being dull. He may be supreme on the stage, but he feels that he could have made more of his life: 'It’s slightly intellectually undemanding being a rock singer, but you make the best of it'.
When I first introduced myself to Mick's mother, saying 'Hello, I'm Michael', Eva replied, 'Oh, I have a son called Michael'. And added crossly, 'But I do not like the name Michael'.
'So why did you call your son Michael?'
'Well, I had to call him something. I was forced to give him a name. But I was furious, and I did not want to call him anything.'
Then Eva told me more. Her child was born during the war, in 1943, when many things were rationed, including food, clothing and home textiles, fuel and even soap. But Eva could claim for certain rationed things only when she gave the child a name.
'So why didn't you give him a name?'
'Because', Eva said, becoming crosser as her mind went back to the catastrophe, 'because he was a boy! I did not want a boy. I was expecting a girl. I had baby clothes for a girl. I had names for a girl. And all that was spoiled when the baby turned out to be a boy'.
So that was it, the story of Mick's life. Eva had wanted a girl. She refused to accept that he was a boy. 'I refused to give him a name. For a whole month I would not give him a name. But finally, because of the rationing, I had to call him something. I called him Michael. But I do not like the name.'
And I thought of Mick in makeup and skirts jumping around on stage like a crazed flower, an androgenous Pan, singing for his mother. 'No, you can't always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.'
Isn't that how biographies work?