Exile In Pearland: A Young Rocks Off Gets "Happy"

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

The first time Rocks Off the Younger truly heard "Happy," we were loading a case of Dannon yogurt into the display case at the Kroger in Pearland we worked at from 1999 until he first left home. It would have been September 2002, and we had just signed the papers that would mark our entry into the United States Marine Corps in a few months. We swept our hair back from our forehead (man, those were the days) and looked up at the ceiling, and for a second we couldn't place the track from

Exile on Main Street

. At this point, the only Rolling Stones albums we owned were

Tattoo You


Voodoo Lounge

and the 1975 hits compilation

Made In The Shade

, which we lifted from our mother's vinyl collection. We had always passed over "Happy" on the way to "Wild Horses," which closed out Side 1. There was something about it being 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, hung over and groggy, that made "Happy" pop for us. We were only 19 years old and still steeped in punk rock, but slowly but surely coming out of that cocoon. At first we wondered why Mick Jagger sounded so wheezy, but soon enough we discovered it was actually Keith Richards singing. Rookie mistake. When we got home and looked up the lyrics, we realized that they were about our teenage selves - we never kept a dollar past sunset; it always burned a hole in our pants. Never made a school mama happy, always took candy from strangers, that kind of thing. The next month, the Stones' new hits album,

Forty Licks

, came out and we wore out the double-disc set by Christmastime and our ship-out date to the Marine Corps. We must have dug a rut into the second disc, but only to track 12, which was that awful "Mixed Emotions" crap. After we came back to civilian life about a year later, we immersed ourselves in all things Stones. We collected all the vinyl, buying one copy of


to display and one to listen to on the turntable. We worshipped every track and forced everyone we worked with at the time to worship it, be it the bootleg tracks we bought online or the original disc. We were the manager of a pizza place at the time, so they had no choice. Every opening shift started with the first cut, "Rocks Off," which is now eerily prophetic seeing that every waking hour almost is somehow dedicated to a blog by the same name. Somewhere around the time we snagged a slew of

Sticky Fingers

demos, we went to our tattoo guy and got the lips and tongue inked into our right arm. We spent the hour session listening to our discovery at the time,

Black and Blue

. Funny enough, now even the lyrics to "Rocks Off" apply to our daily lives: Zipping through the days at lightning speed. Plug in, flush out and fire the fuckin' feed. The sunshine bores the daylights out of us. Chasing shadows moonlight mystery. We can't count the days that we have spent watching the sun go down, waiting for the next show to cover or bar to review. The song we are into now from


? It has to be the grimy vocals and the slow, loping lines of "Ventilator Blues": Charlie Watts sitting in the back pounding out the beat while Bobby Keys breathes into his sax. You can smell that sweaty French mansion in every line.

The expanded and remastered version of

Exile on Main Street

is in record stores today.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.