In Stoned you talk about suffering from bipolar depression. Do you think there's a stigma attached to conditions like this? Also, do you subscribe to the theory that most exceptionally creative people suffer from some form of clinical depression?
I can only speak of my own which I did in my two books, to do any more would be irresponsible. We live in a time when if you’ve got it, someone will prescribe and sell you something for it, and that is often when a whole other set of problems set in. For starters, we are all creative if we manage to start and finish a job of work properly. Finally, most people who view themselves as both creative and depressed, usually drink and self-medicate, and in addition to other forms of analysis, ordinary or alternative medicine, should consider either AA or NA as another step on the ladder to wellness. If they’ve been creative and depressed for a while they should also check their liver for Hep C – the consumate rock’n roll badge of honor.
During the ’60s, the Beatles were the competition. Since parting ways with the Stones, did it give you space to re-listen and re-evaluate the Beatles? What qualities do you admire in their music? The history books seem content to place the Stones as second fiddle to the Beatles in terms of importance – a fair assessment?
Sales, Yes. Importance, No. It Depends on the punter. I was in the US a few weeks ago and saw Paul McCartney perform at the Super Bowl. He started off with Drive My Car. I thought I knew how good it was but I did not. Lady Henna did an immaculate job that was true to himself and the Beatles version in present time. I was amazed. Even gobsmacked at how emotional, epiphanic and uplifting three true minutes of pop genius can be. And I’m a ‘Lennon guy’.
You spoke briefly in another interview about possibly writing fiction in the future – has the success of Stoned and 2Stoned encouraged you to pursue that?
Not yet. I still have a few shots of Rythym’N Blues. My next book is called On Hustling. It’s about the hustlers I admired, met, was inspired by, did not care for and a couple who let me through the door and into the game. I go from Diaghilev to McGhee. I’m enjoying the journey looking at my mentors, pals, sneers and peers who played in the world of the individual, before the corpofabric, or lack of it, ruled, and I hope that it serves all sorts but in particular those who are looking for a reminder of shine, verve and inspiration. It’s the likes of Shaar Murray who make it hard for today’s absolute beginners to have heroes, and we need them as we take our marks and make our bid to get into the game. I did.
You grew up with an obvious love for American culture – and you've pointed out that one of the reasons that the Stones became so succesful is that, with you leading the way, they had America in their bones, that they were of America. What is it like then, living in Bogotá, where one encounters plenty of justified anti-American sentiment?
Well, Tom Wolfe was asked recently what can we do about George Bush. He replied that you could vote for him. We have madness, outrage, disease, corruption and famine of such a degree all over the world. Bush did not start it, he reacted to it. Get over it and rejoice that there’s at least someone as mad as the enemy in the White House who cannot be fathomed as to how he may react. That is a saving grace. In a world of Mel vs Michael Moore, I’d rather have my Lethal Weapon. God bless Bono for shaking hands with the presumed devil in an effort to get the voice of decency heard and hopefully, in some small way acted upon. Better that and looking to some like a cunt than the UN having to pull up its trousers in public after having buggered it’s way through Africa. As for living in Colombia, Bush and America are just fine according to my son and his peers. He provided the means for our president to fight the former guerrillas, now drug dealers and kidnappers, something that a John Kerry surely would not. In my drug taking years, an Indian master dealer reminded me that cocaine was for the preservation of the red man and revenge on the pink man. In that there is not much coke in what you fellows [Outside Colombia] snort I guess you might have nothing to worry about …