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Thursday, August 16, 2012

(33rd in a series of) Stepping Stones "Photographic Memory"

Song: Plundered My Soul
Album: The re-release of Exile on Main St (with bonus tracks)
Re-released:  April, 2010

Back when I was writing up the 100 Gem Music Video of the Week (GMVW) series over a two year period from 2008-09 (all entries preserved on this blog), a major focus of mine was the quality of the selected video.  As much as the songs themselves, the videos were a driving force; an inspiration.  Several times I actually skipped over a great song choice because I could not find a suitable video.  Many of the clips were from an official MTV-type release.  Others were of a live concert.  Every time it was a factor; and it remained a pledge of mine throughout to stay focused on that angle on a consistent basis.  This time around, with the Stepping Stones (and hopefully beyond), I realized early that to dig deeper into an individual band’s vault of songs, I could not keep the same pledge.  The songs have in turn become the sole driver, and the videos have been attached simply as a reference. 

That was until this week.  

This week I had several songs in mind, but nothing significant was stirring up in regards to what to write about any of them.  Then I started searching out video entries on YouTube for each and the eventual winner, Plundered My Soul, a bonus track on the 2010 re-release of ‘Exile on Main Street’ had a video made for it that was astounding; one of the best I’d ever seen. The video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6ZnmXrRUIQ )is a pictograph of the Rolling Stones in the ’72 period when they were at their creative best.  And not only does it show an amazing array of rare photos, it’s a virtual diorama, and done in an extremely insightful and thoughtful way. 

In watching it over and over, I knew there was something there that would inspire an idea, which finally came to me over the weekend, with the help of a convergence of sorts:  The arrival from France of old friend - and shutterbug extraordinaire - Bob.

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  If this is the case, then Bob has compiled a voluminous masterpiece, preserving a life of memorable moments in a way that few have.  As the years have rolled on, Bob’s old photographs have become more and more invaluable to his many friends.  His collage is often the first thing we track down when we visit him, as it all brings back memories of incredible moments in our lives.  In hindsight, Bob’s fascination with capturing the moment has been a great service to us all.

For me, the preserved memories are many; a broad brush stroke of great times had:

·         There’s the classic album cover-like photo of Steve, Tom and I at the entry way to Central Park after a ‘homeless’ evening in the Big Apple (see GMVW # 36):  A three-tiered snapshot, with me having climbed to the top of the upper stone wall, sitting there, Tom standing on the mid-level wall, and Steve sitting at the bottom. 

·         There’s the photo of me at the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps, my feet just above a set of clouds, making it look like I’m floating on air. 

·         There’s the snapshot of a crowd of us outside of the Gladstone home in Ottawa, all ready to head over to the Panda Bowl; Bec and Dave’s earliest memory together. 

·         There’s Bob’s brother, Dave, in a canoe, which is barely discernible due to the improbable amount of firewood he had piled up into it to help stoke a campfire in the Adirondacks. 

·         There’s the picturesque view of Flam, Norway’s fjord, capturing the memory of a day trek to the top, and the mountain goat with the look in his eyes telling me I was crazy for likely being the only human that had ever come across his cliffy mountain home.

·         There’s the set of photos from Nancy and my wedding; much better than anything the official photographer was able to pull off that day.

·         There’s the magnificent warm-weather December day on Cape Cod, part of a road trip for the ages.

·         There’s the ‘stairs shot’ at the Waterloo memorial, Bob’s old hometown in Belgium: Nancy, Mac, Dave, Ed, Bob and I: Another one of these album-cover like photos.

·         There’s the group shot earlier that same week at a cafĂ© in Montmatre, Paris, on the day I would ask for Nancy’s hand in marriage.

·         There’s the Humarock pictures from the many-a classic times had there.

·         And on it goes….

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How was Plundered My Soul, along with a handful of other songs on the 2010 re-release, left off the original album?  This number is up there with some of the Stones all-time best.  Oh yeah…. this was ‘Exile on Main St.’, produced during an extremely prolific period for the band: The collage of photos in the video bares this out.  ‘Exile’ was already a double album, but the re-release tells me that it could have easily been a triple.  Back in February of 2009, I wrote a Gem Video (GMVW # 60) about deep cuts and how they define a great album, perhaps even more so than the hits.  I also mentioned that you can go a step farther:  What was left off the album?  I used to think Bob Dylan and Pete Townshend had a corner on the market in this regard. 

Not anymore. 

The pictures tell the story. 

Thanks to Bob, I know the feeling. 

-          Pete

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