Mick Jagger on New Rolling Stones Album, U.S. Politics and Mortality: ‘As You Get Older, a Lot of Your Friends Die’

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Mick Jagger is basking in the acclaim for the new Rolling Stones album “Hackney Diamonds,” the band’s first album of new material since 2005’s “A Bigger Bang.”

Reviewing the album for Variety, Jem Aswad said it “sounds classic without feeling dated,” adding “if there’s a better way to end the Rolling Stones’ 60-plus-year recording career, it’s hard to imagine what it could be.”

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“I’ve got really good reactions from people that seem to be genuine,” Jagger told The Guardian. In a freewheeling interview with the British newspaper, Jagger, 80, weighed in on mortality, missing late drummer Charlie Watts and contemporary U.S. politics.

For “Hackney Diamonds,” the Stones presented some 80 songs written in the 18-year gap between original albums — 2016’s “Blue & Lonesome” was an album of blues covers — to producer Andrew Watt and asked him to pick what he liked. “Some were demos; some weren’t developed. And there was a whole bunch of material with Charlie that we needed to listen through,” Watt told The Guardian. There are 12 tracks on “Hackney Diamonds,” 11 of which are original and the 12th a Muddy Waters cover. “Some other tracks we’ve done with Charlie that’ll probably come out,” Jagger said. “So he’s kind of still there — and I hope he likes the rest of the record.”

Jagger continued, “It’s a couple of years now, and I still think about Charlie a lot. I think about him when I’m playing, and what he would have played; whether he’d have liked this song, because I’d always bounce things off him. I’d be playing him the silly pop songs of the moment, and he’d love all that.”

“But I hate to say this: as you get older, a lot of your friends die,” Jagger added. “it doesn’t get easier at all. There’s a lot of people around your age, they’re dying all the time. I don’t have any friends older than me, only one. Apart from the band, all my friends are much younger … You’re aware of your own mortality from quite an early age – it’s not something that occurs to you in your 70s,” Jagger said.

Jagger also had a typically trenchant take on U.S. politics. “America is worrying, because if we get extremity governments in America, we get into too much fighting. People don’t really understand what they’re talking about half the time, to be honest. I’m sorry, they just don’t. And they have very strongly held views.”

“Hackney Diamonds” is out now via Polydor.

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