Rhinofy-Play With Fire

It was the last track on “Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass),” the Rolling Stones greatest hits set with the cover photograph I thought was shot in England but turned out to be L.A.

And “Play With Fire” itself was cut in Los Angeles, but I didn’t learn this until years later, to me it sounded like nothing but England, with the references to the locales.

I hadn’t purchased a Stones set sooner. I couldn’t afford it. There was stuff I needed more, and that’s what you did when someone lasted but you never started, you purchased the greatest hits set. And greatest hits sets are ultimately disappointing, they contain what you want, but not what you need. The albums have context. And they’re all available online now, but back then you had to find someone who owned them and be at their house with time to kill and it was always so weird hearing it for the first time because the truth is albums reveal their greatness over time, back when we had time, when albums counted, when music was scarce and the people who made it truly believed they were making a statement, when music was the highest calling on earth.

Now she gets her kicks in Stepney
Not in Knightsbridge anymore

It localizes it! That’s how you end up becoming universal, by telling your own personal truth. The more specific you are the more we can relate, because we have our own references. And I went to day camp in Stepney, Connecticut, was it named after the English burb? And now I know Harrods is in Knightsbridge, but everything I knew about London in 1966 was from records.

Well, you’ve got your diamonds and you’ve got your pretty clothes
And the chauffer drives your car

No one had a chauffer in the U.S. There was wealth overseas we could only dream of. Unlike today, there was no obvious class system in the States.

Your mother she’s an heiress, owns a block in St. John’s Wood

There’s that specificity once again, where exactly was this? Was it dark and haunting like the music? Back before all movies were in color and all the English musicians testified about the rain?

Now you’ve got some diamonds and you will have some others
But you’d better watch your step girl
Or start living with your mother

WHAT? Music was all about liberation, separation, there was a youthquake going on and he was talking about sending her back to her MOTHER?

There was an inherent danger.

And the Rolling Stones were dangerous. I know that sounds laughable today, but so it was. And unlike today’s musical gangsters they weren’t going to kill you, but they were going to CORRUPT you!

And that’s why Mick was warning her…

So don’t play with me, ’cause you’re playing with fire

Hmm… Aren’t we supposed to revere the rich? Aren’t we supposed to let people make their own decisions?

Not back then. Rockers were paramount. And bad boy Mick was warning her. And you know what happens when you tell someone you don’t need them, when you tell them they’re not up to the challenge…they’re drawn ever closer.

And we were.

We were addicted to the radio.

We wanted to be like the bad boys.

Because they got all the girls.

And our parents were clueless, they were anything but best friends.

And there were a ton of hits on “High Tide and Green Grass,” even “Satisfaction” and “19th Nervous Breakdown,” but the one that creeped me out, that made me feel the band was different from me, that made me want to get ever closer, was “Play With Fire.”

So don’t play with me, ’cause you’re playing with fire

They didn’t beg us to like them. They seemed not to need us.

But we needed them.

We got infected by their music and it changed our lives.

It changed the culture.

That’s the power of one record.

That’s the power of “Play With Fire.”

Rhinofy-Play With Fire

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