Mick Jagger is doing a state of the nation address - via two brand new tracks rush released this week. The songs, "Gotta Get A Grip" and "England Lost" were urgent responses to what he calls "confusion and frustration with the times we live in."
Mick says the songs were a result of "anxiety, unknowability of the changing political situation". He delivers a biting personal commentary across the two songs atop guitar drones and emphatic beats as he touches on everything from aggressive news cycles to holding those in power to account.
"England Lost" takes us back to a football match that he attended and uses the moment as an analogy for a country at a political crossroads. "Gotta Get A Grip" takes us with him as he rattles issues of war and political scandal around in his mind and defiantly spits them out. This is sound tracking a moment in time, the way only Jagger knows how and the result is electric, disruptive and thought provoking.
On "England Lost" he explains
"Ostensibly, it's about seeing an England football team lose, but when I wrote the title I knew it would be about more than just that. It's about a feeling that we are in a difficult moment in our history. It's about the unknowability about where you are and the feeling of insecurity. That's how I was feeling when I was writing. It's obviously got a fair amount of humour because I don't like anything too on the nose but it's also got a sense of vulnerability of where we are as a country."
"Right from the off when I started writing "England Lost", I imagined having a British rapper on the track... Skepta stepped in at a moment's notice and I just loved what he did."
On "Gotta Get A Grip"
"The message I suppose is - despite all those things that are happening, you gotta get on with your own life, be yourself and attempt to create your own destiny".
On the political climate
"We obviously have a lot of problems. So am I politically optimistic?... No."
On the release of two stand-alone tracks
"I started writing these two songs in April and wanted them out straight away. Doing a whole album often takes a long time even after finishing it with all the record company preparations and global release set up. It's always refreshing to get creative in a different fashion and I feel a slight throwback to a time when you could be a bit more free and easy by recording on the hoof and putting it out there immediately. I didn't want to wait until next year when these two tracks might lose any impact and mean nothing".
On who he's listening to right now
"I do quite a lot of trawling for music online and also the youngsters in my family all play me music when we get together so I get to hear all kinds of things. I listen to R&B and pop and strange mixes of old and new and then like everyone I make my own random playlists. The last things I added to a list were Kendrick Lamar, Skepta, Mozart, Howlin' Wolf, Tame Impala, obscure Prince tracks and classic soul stuff from The Valentine Brothers. I really like Kendrick Lamar, he's also talking about discontent and he really nailed it. I thought his stuff, and what Skepta is doing, are very interesting and pretty much on the button.
01. Gotta Get A Grip
02. England Lost