Issue 54 Nov 05, 2023

Daring to age

The new Rolling Stones album, Hackney Diamonds, got me thinking, perhaps not the way they intended. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice album with some catchy songs, but I couldn’t help but notice what’s not on there.

Mick Jagger’s voice.

It’s there obviously, wouldn’t be much of a Stones album if Keith Richards did the whole thing, but there’s a lot of his voice that’s not there. The raspiness of age has been removed, a good voice being polished up. When I noticed this, I couldn’t un-hear it, and it opened up the album to scrutiny in a way that you really shouldn’t do unless you intend to properly review it. Which I don’t, and won’t. But I couldn’t not hear how polished the sound was, the guitars and everything. It was like an AI version of the Rolling Stones not-rasping out their licks.

They didn’t have to do that, it was uncalled for. Mick Jagger and friends (the ones that are left) still put on a good live show, strutting about. Sure, they’re old and pretty far from their prime, but I don’t think anyone (other than a music producer) have thought “man, Jagger sounds old and dull now”.

Alice Cooper is only a couple of years younger than Mick Jagger. He sings with his three different voices still, and sure enough, you can hear his age. It gives the lyrics, which tend to change with age too, character. If a singer’s voice has left them but they have more to say, and remixing and polishing is the only way to get it out, then by all means, use, err, all means.

Mick Jagger doesn’t need that. Alice Cooper doesn’t need that. Leonard Cohen sure didn’t need it, and he sounded ancient on the last album. It brings character.

The same thing goes for aging overall, at least when you look at the superficial parts of it. Who cares about a few wrinkles? Sure, you could botox it away, but why would you?

There’s only one sound answer to that question, and it’s “because it makes me feel better”. To which I say, fine. You do you.

If Mick Jagger wanted to remove his age from the Hackney Diamonds lyrics, you do you. My bet is that it’s Andrew Watt, producer of (most of) the album, who couldn’t keep his mitts away. Jagger & Co. should’ve gone with Rick Rubin instead.


🤡 No surprise there: X is officially worth less than half of what Elon Musk paid for it.

🧑‍⚖️ Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty. No shit.

📺 The sub-title to this piece is great: How Ted Lasso killed Tony Soprano. And yes, TV is bland and boring now, at least overall.

👮‍♀️ To blatantly use footage of a real person, be it Scarlett Johansson or someone less famous, in an ad is just horrible. Anything made by Lisa AI should be avoided.

📚 Kindle authors can soon get their books published as audiobooks with artificial voices. Bad news for voice actors, but on the other hand, the vast majority of Kindle books won’t be made into audiobooks anyway, so…?

🌏 Nice piece on POSSE from The Verge, perhaps not the place I’d expect to read about reclaiming our online selves the open source way. I’ll have more on owning yourself online in the future.

Got something I should read? Send it to me, either by replying to this letter, hitting up on Bluesky, or any of the other means that appeal to you. Thanks!


📚 Not much reading this week. I’m still on Häng City by Mikael Yvesand.

🎵 “Now and Then”, the new – and last, presumably – Beatles track had an eerie feel to it. I liked it, but then I listened to The White Album, and it felt a bit weak in comparison.

📺 Reptile was a pretty good movie, worth a watch. Then again, almost everything with Benicio del Toro is.

🎮 I’ve enjoyed Japanese Rural Life Adventure on my iPad this week. It’s a pretty blatant Stardew Valley ripoff, with a touch of Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon thrown in there. I don’t think I’ll continue playing it for long, but it’s been a relaxing time.

A friend turned 60, so yesterday was all about ballroom dancing in a tux with a twist. It was crazy and fun, but I must confess that today’s been a slow day thus far. Wonder why?

Until next week, take it easy.

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡

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