President Mobutu Sese Seko
H. Ross Perot
THE SECOND SIDE opens with "Where the Boy All Go," a rock and roll paean to gay bars. Homosexuality is presented here, as it has always appeared to straights, as an act of desperation. There's really no question of Jagger's orientation; when asked by High Society magazine whether he was at least bisexual, he replied, "I don't suck cock, and I've never had my prick in any guy's ass," which would seem to answer the question. There is another reference to the Hellenic detour elsewhere, on "Let Me Go," when Jagger moans, "Maybe I'll become a playboy, hang around in gay bars, and mooooooooove to the West Side of town." And then there's "When the Whip Comes Down" from Some Girls. But this is fantasy--what is important is not where Jagger is looking for his escape from women, but that he is looking at all.
Mostly because Jagger is not only looking to get away from women but from women as metaphor. This nexus is made explicit on the next track, an acid blues number called "Down in the Hole." When you're down in the hole, there's nothing to protect you from the world of sin, sickness and insanity: "Looking for cover, you will find that there is nowhere nowhere nowaaaaargh to go." Jagger is talking about nothing less than the great primordial woman-hole'; in "Down in the Hole" he makes clear what he's been implying all along. Sex is both the sum of experience and a metaphor for it--herein lies the ingenuity of Jagger's misogyny. Women are not the victims of a metaphor but, over the course of life, the creators of it.
The album continues with the title track, "Emotional Rescue." Over an eerie carnival backdrop and an ingenious bass line, Jagger sings of the psychic strategies necessary to life with women, which is, as I have said, identical to life in general. It moves from a return to adolescence and ideal love (matched in from by the carnival figures and the unnatural falsetto) to a life of chronic depression ("And I was crying, baby, crying like a child," in a pain-wracked natural voice) to a vision of sexual redemption worthy of Lawrence, sung in the dread/voodoo accents of a Jamaican deejay:
Ummm... Yes, you could be mine. Tonight and every night, I will be your knight in shining armor, coming to you emotional rescue. You will be mine you will be mine, all mine. You will be mine you will be mine, all mine. I will be your knight in shining armor, riding across the desert on a fine arab charger. Fff-ugh, ugh-ugh-ugh.
"Emotional Rescue" is the thematic culmination of the album. The tracks that follow, "She' So Cold," a delightful bopper, and "All About You." a ballad groaned by Keef, only reiterate the misogyny of the rest of the album. Misogyny is somewhat unacceptable these days, in light of the feminist revolution and the general ideological relativism of the 20th Century. But it is by no means a ridiculous or indefensible position. It is, in fact, a fundamentally religious position, which sees a world of the Many distracting man from the One; Jagger only goes further by equating women with the world. This is not an album about women, but an album about physics, as the thermographic pictures on the sleeve would indicate. Jagger resents women as agents of entropy who threaten to dissipate the energy that is the essence of his art. In a less sophisticated way, Jagger sees the world the same way Henry Adams did, and St. Augustine centuries before. But where Augustine saw his rescue in God, and Adams nowhere, Jagger clings to his sexuality, to the idea of an "emotional rescue." His misogyny is merely a prop in a synthesis that sees love of women as the only hope.