If you know anything about the musical philosophies of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, a.k.a. the "Glimmer Twins" and the songwriting team behind the Rolling Stones, you might be amazed the band has lasted as long as it has.
It certainly hasn't been without some turmoil...but then again, no long-lasting songwriting team has smooth sailing 100% of the time.
In the early 1960s, the Rolling Stones were born out of American musical styles such as R&B and traditional delta blues. Their influences originate in American artists such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry, to name a few. They are graduate students of that genre of music, to say the least. The very name of the band was founded on a line from an song by one of those artists in the 1950s.
However, as time passed and the 1970s emerged, Jagger had the philosophy that the Stones needed to evolve and change with the times. It's Mick's direction that prompted the progress of the band into directions in the vein of "Dance Little Sister" from 1974's It's Only Rock and Roll, and "Miss You" from 1978's Some Girls.
Richard's philosophy was always more oriented in traditional blues, as he was less adventurous about noodling with the classic Rolling Stones sound that had ingrained itself in classic rock by the 1970s...songs that come to mind that are of the Richards forte might be things like "Sway" from 1971's Sticky Fingers and "Ventilator Blues" from 1972's Exile on Main St.
As the Stones entered the 1980s, these differences in musical philosophy -- in addition to a different philosophy of how to spend their time in their personal lives -- began to create a deepening rift between the two. As a result, the quality of output from the Stones in that decade suffered greatly...it got so bad that nearly all the material from 1986's Dirty Work was written independently, and even in some cases vocals and guitars were recorded in separate studios.
The results of this discombobulated approach reflected in the music, and the Stones essentially ceased for some time to be a living, breathing entity as they didn't tour for the better part of eight years.
Such a lack of exposure would normally mean certain death to most rock bands -- but hey, these are the Stones.
Luckily, Jagger and Richards realized that the results from working together was greater than the sum of its parts; so they had a reconciliation by the end of the 80s. By compromising on the makeup of songs on albums, agreeing to disagree, and utilizing their individual strengths, the band flourished once again. There is also no denying the mutual respect the two have formed for each other over the years as artists and friends.
While the material from the band since 1989's Steel Wheels has never really been up to par with their classic material from the 1960s and 70s, it has certainly produced some gems in their massive cannon and has given Stones fans plenty to chew on in the last 20-some years.
Hopefully we'll get a little more from this timeless and legendary songwriting team before their flame goes out.