Mick Jagger and The Moment Of Transformation

“Let’s Spend The Night Together” was a moderate hit for the band The Rolling Stones. Released in 1967, it’s probably most well known for a lyric change (Let’s Spend Some Time Together) in order to be performed on the famously conservative Ed Sullivan Show. It peaked at 55 on the Billboard charts. But I think the song is much, much more important than that.

At the time, The Stones were following the typical music trends of the day – take the sounds of older blues, soul and rockabilly songs, rewrite and rearrange them, add a more slick, “white” sound, dress yourself up in the coolest mod fashions off the day and, boom, you’ve got yourself a chart-topping band.

The Stones were most certainly on this track and, to be honest, “Let’s Spend The Night” is no exception. With it’s rollicking piano introduction, it’s “my, my my’s” and “bada ba ba’s” it’s completely loyal to the sounds of the day. Mick Jagger (the band’s front man, in case you are living under a rock) was certainly following suit. Even though Jagger fell in love with music by listening to the raw, black American bluesman from the generation prior to his own, Mick spent the early part of his career singing in a clear, socially acceptable tone that, again, was the hallmark of the time.

Until, Let’s Spend The Night Together.

The track starts out familiar enough. Clearly more rocking and hard-charging than the other Stones singles at the time such as Ruby Tuesday and Dandelion, LSTNT still starts off with two verses and two choruses in the way any fast-paced song in the late 60’s would. But then, halfway through the bridge, something happens. Mick starts to become a little unhinged. His delivery becomes more passionate, more aggressive, less inhibited, less contained. And it keeps going. By the end of the song Mick is definitely fired up. He’s still wailing as the track fades out.

In my mind it’s the moment that Mick Jagger becomes “Mick Jagger”.

MMMMKay, What’s Your Point?

You may be wondering at this point what this has to do with you and your training. Well, it turns out quite a bit.

Most people start their training career as some sort of follower. Just as the Stones did, they follow the current trend of the day – whether that’s going to a CrossFit or spin class with a friend, trying out a 6 week training program they find on a website, buying every supplement they see in a muscle magazine or even just spying the big/strong guy pounding it out in a commercial gym and following whatever he is doing. And the expectations are the same. If I follow X exercise plan and Y nutrition plan and Z supplement plan I am going to reach my goals. I’ll have hit the finish line. I’ll have put out a hit record. And that will be the end of it.

And you can get pretty far in the beginning doing this as we discuss in a previous blog post on expectations. But then you will hit a wall where one of two things will happen.

The first option is to quit. You did it for a while, you made some progress and now the amount of work needed (a lot!) for the amount of progress made (slow!) is no longer worth it. So you give up.

The second is to start searching for the secret. You buy the latest diet book, you try a certain celebrity’s workout, buy a membership at the latest group fitness studio, you start searching for that missing puzzle piece that is going to get you to that next level. And, if done without massive pressure on yourself, this can be a terrific time of experimenting and learning and frustration and wasting time and money. And it’s all worth it. Because if you can make it through this level, which for some will last years, you can make it out the other side. You can be Mick Jagger halfway through Let’s Spend The Night Together. You can transform.

The amazing thing about this transformation is, you won’t even know it’s happening. There is no Dr. David Banner turning into the Incredible Hulk theatrics. You will simply become someone who no longer falls for the bullshit. No longer focuses on achieving long, lean muscles or six pack abs. You will understand intuitively what works for you and what does not. You will turn down your friend’s boot camp invitation because leg day is on the schedule and you don’t miss leg day. Your diet books will begin to collect dust. You will be impervious to trends and nonsense. You will stop working out and start training – focusing more on the things you can control and negating the things you cannot. You will be very selective of who you listen to and take advice from. Your training partner will become as close to you as a family member. Dare I say, it will become a lifestyle. You will have transcended all the rhetoric and stereotypes. You will no longer be another mop-topped, also-ran singing choruses of “la, la, la” while hitting a tambourine.

But Don’t Take It Too Far

I saw the Stones about 40 years after the release of “Let’s Spend The Night Together” when they were on their A Bigger Bang tour. Jagger strutted and chicken-danced across the stage continually for 2 and a half hours. It was one of the most impressive performances I have ever seen. He was fully formed.

But with that comes a risk. So developed is Mick’s mystique is that it’s easy to caricature. Purse your lips, flap your arms and repeatedly jab your chin forward and everyone knows that you are “doing” Jagger. I mean there was a hit song called “Moves Like Jagger” that is about that very thing. And the same can happen in the gym. Remember those guys with colorful Zubas pants, wearing Timerland boots and sporting fanny packs full of supplements? Very few aspire to that level of “commitment”. And that is certainly not what we are talking about here.

We are talking about elevating your training and your mindset to the point of it almost not existing as a separate entity. It no longer becomes what you do but simply who you are.

And with that you will be fully formed.