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Chuck Leavell discusses 'Doom and Gloom'
The Rolling Stones keyboardist and MNN co-founder sheds light on the band's new single, which includes a reference to hydraulic fracturing, aka 'fracking.'
Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Photo: Fernando Decillis
Two weeks after the Rolling Stones released "Doom and Gloom," their first new single in six years, the band still hasn't had much time to bask. This year marks the Stones' 50th anniversary, so they're currently huddled in Paris to rehearse for a reunion tour (and to perform a surprise $20 concert here and there).
"Doom and Gloom" is part of a new greatest-hits album due in the U.S. on Nov. 13, but the single is already generating buzz online (see the video below). It almost sounds like a cut from "Exile on Main St.," with Mick Jagger howling about swamp zombies and foreign policy over gnashing guitar. While it evokes an aura of 1972, though, it targets the anxieties of 2012 — including some environmental concerns.
The lyrics are cryptic, but a few lines seem to address ecological issues, starting with a reference to the controversial drilling technique known as "fracking":
"Fracking deep for oil, but there's nothing in the sump.
There's kids all picking at the garbage dump.
I am running out of water, so I better prime the pump.
I am trying to stay sober but I end up drunk."
Since MNN co-founder Chuck Leavell also happens to be the Stones' keyboardist — a gig he took in 1982, which makes 2012 his 30th year with the band — we decided to ask him about the environmental angles in "Doom and Gloom." Aside from his musical career with the Stones, Allman Brothers and other acts, Leavell is also a renowned conservationist and tree farmer, so he's tuned in to this kind of thing.
He's also busy right now, rehearsing a half century's worth of Stones' music with the band in Paris, so I asked him about the lyrics via email. Here's his answer:
"Fracking has certainly become one of the major issues of our time. In the beginning of the third verse of our new Stones single, 'Doom and Gloom,' Mick gives the lines: 'Fracking deep for oil, but there's nothing in the sump.' Now, the song itself is not at all about fracking. The theme of the tune is as the title suggests — things that make us think about doom and gloom. Things that scare us a bit or that frustrate us in some way.
"Certainly I think a lot of folks have fears and reservations about the practice of fracking, and I think with those two short lines that Mick put in the song about it, he taps into the trepidation that exists about fracking. Mick has always been a master of including current events in some of the lines of his lyrics, and he does it yet again here, giving all of us something to think about!"
Aside from a few small shows during rehearsals, the Stones are scheduled to play four major arena concerts this winter in London and New York, their first such performances since 2007. Jagger has reportedly said those shows will be followed by a longer tour, which is yet to be announced.
Check out the video for "Doom and Gloom" below, plus a trailer for the new documentary "Crossfire Hurricane," which will air Nov. 15 on HBO:
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