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When the Stone Rolled From the Tomb: An Interactive, Righteous Review of The Resurrection and The Rolling Stones 
By The Rock Doc, psychologist Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. B.L.T.

The Dr. BLTrivia Challenge:

The following interactive, "righteous" review of the resurrection and the Rolling Stones contains scores of Rolling Stones song titles.  Some exist in the form of paragraph headings.  Others are secretly planted in the body of the text itself.  The Phantom Tollbooth reader who is able to identify the most Rolling Stones song titles embedded within the body of this text will win a free single-song soundtrack to this article (in downloadable or CD format). 

Think about the song titles as Easter eggs and as you embark upon this Rolling Stone "Easter-egg" hunt.  The deadline is April 30 and the answers will be posted with the winner's name in the next issue of Phantom Tollbooth. If you think you've found all or nearly all of these little "eggs," e-mail your answer to <>

It is an Easter song of hope. It is a “Dr. BLTribute” to the original "Rolling Stone"-the one that rolled away from the tomb of Christ so that our risen Lord and Savior could conveniently "split the scene," and make His way to heaven. 

Who do you think
Was the original Rolling Stone?
Was it Mick or Keith
Or was it Brian Jones?
I don't mean to challenge
Your point of view
But it was the stone
That rolled from the tomb...
Extracted from the song, “When the Stone Rolled from the Tomb” 
By Dr. B.L.Thiessen, 2004

Every band must pay its dues, but this band, born of the blues, had to face one piece of particularly bad news much too soon.  The birth of the Rolling Stones was tragically accompanied by the death of one of its most creative founding members---Brian Jones. The Rolling Stones lost Brian Jones twice in the period of one week. Shortly after he announced his departure from the band, and began plans to launch a new band, Brian was discovered dead in his swimming pool. That deadly day was July 3, 1969. 

I see a red door
And I want to paint it black
No colors anymore 
I want them to turn black...
Extracted from “Paint it Black” by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, 1968

There would be no fireworks on the July 4th that followed and that single event would help define the Rolling Stones and contribute significantly to the dark nature of many of the Stones songs that would follow. Instead of turning to the risen Christ, the only one to have conquered death once and for all, The Stones turned inward. That left only darkness. 

I look inside and see
My heart is painted black
No colors anymore
I want them to turn black...

The death of Brian Jones was a terrifying event, but the surviving Stones managed to weather the worst of the storm. Then, just when they thought that their troubles had departed, more tragedy struck. What was billed as a free "thank-you America" concert at Altmont Speedway in California became a horrible nightmare in which things got out of control and far too much blood was shed. 

At the behest of the Grateful Dead, the Stones hired the notorious, ubiquitous motorcycle gang known as Hell's Angels to head up security for the event. As it turned out, all hell broke loose in the middle of the song, “Under my Thumb”. The whole disturbing mess was captured live on Gimme Shelter, a documentary being filmed by the Maysles brothers at the time. With the Hell's Angels at the helm, what was suppose to be a peaceful celebration and an expression of gratitude turned out to be a dreadful dance with death and destruction. They weren't able to garner much sympathy for the devil after that disaster. Many believed that the presence of devil-sympathizers, the Hells Angels, and the inclusion of Stones songs such as “Sympathy for the Devil” actually fueled the fire of rage that led to the atrocious crime that was committed. In fact, the public indignation that followed this train-wreck-of-a-show forced them to drop “Sympathy for the Devil” from their set list for the next six years. 

The event left the band situated between a rock and a hard place, and they vowed never to play with fire again, at least not the type of fire fueled by the presence of the Hell's Angels. The event at the Speedway was one night at memory motel that The Stones would never wish to revisit. Though the road ahead would be littered with personal destruction in the lives of individual band members, the death of Brian Jones and the tragedy at Altmont Speedway stand out as being the two darkest events in the band's conspicuous history.  New Guitarist Ron Wood eventually replaced Mick Taylor, Brian Jones's replacement.

A change of the guard is nothing new in bands that stay together for so many years, but in spite of the new faces, the band would always include the two staples, Mick and Keith. The lifestyles of the two, and their apparent contempt for the notion of humbling themselves before God, perpetuated a body of lyrical content short on spiritual substance, and long on the illusion of a God-free immortality. There are a few songs like “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” and “Shine a Light” that flirted with a message of redemption and hinted at a coming spiritual rapprochement. But so far, such a rapprochement has never gone beyond the point of an illusive potentiality. What a shame! All that talent, all that fame, all that fortune, all that opportunity! It could have been a powerful force for good on this earth, if it was done for the glory of God. Of course that would involve a redemptive re-write of many of the lyrics. 

I would call them the Squandered Stones, but I won't. They were and are not bereft of certain noteworthy redeeming qualities. Sure, it's only rock 'n' roll, but I won't yank the spotlight away from all of the charitable events they have so generously contributed too, the musical legacy they have left behind, and the therapeutic release of pent-up energy that they offered many a distressed individual through their music. 

There are bright spots in their otherwise dark world. Those bright spots are not limited to the undeniable vastness of their talent, their phenomenal ability to meld a unique blend of straight ahead rock with old fashioned blues and American R&B, and of course, their longevity. Longevity, however, is a two-edged sword. It comes with the natural, but otherwise unkind, aging process.

When was the last time you saw a smooth-skinned Rolling Stone--like the stones you used to skip across the lake as a child? They are, without a doubt, looking a wee bit tired and haggard---not to mention dreadfully wizened by the hands of time (with a little assistance from mother's little helper). Yes, the Rolling Stones are visibly aging, but The Stones became the band that would not fade away. 

Their music will never die, but they will, one by one. One day the juggernaut will become the Jagger-not. One day they will meet their maker, the one who created the original rolling stone. I cannot speak for where each member of the Rolling Stones stands as it pertains to matters of faith, but, both individually, and collectively, they seem to have left that stone unturned, perhaps due to fear of a tarnished "bad boy, “image. That image, juxtaposed beside that of the Beatles, has helped to define them. Alternatively, their ostensible shunning of spirituality may have more to do with a fear of having to give up all of the accouterments afforded to them as the inherent concomitants of their immense fame and vast fortunes. What can I say that the scriptures has not already said in response to the merits of amassing earthly fortunes: "...what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?" 

The devil offers the world for a song. The Stones seem to have bought that song "hook, line and singer," while sympathizing with the red-horned salesman. The song “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones is like sin. It has a primitive, alluring quality to it. It is a slithering, seductive sleeper that sneaks up on the listener with a slowly building, hypnotic rhythm set behind an intriguing story about Satan told by Satan (or at least by Mick Jagger, the Stones frontman who assumes the role of Satan in this song with an uncanny ease).

I think I may have mentioned this in a prior article or two, so forgive me if I'm getting repetitive, but, as a young child, I must have either been exposed to the Stone's devilish ditty, or influenced by some other pathetic devil sympathizer out there. I thought the devil was eligible for parole.

Children have mountains, not mustard seeds of faith, and I, in my simple childhood system of beliefs, thought that God's plan of salvation extended to this vile, Stygian creature of the abysmal underworld. Thankfully, my God-fearing parents disabused me of this notion after hearing my bedtime prayer that ended with the bizarre request, "... and God, please help Satan to become a Christian." Even among the most erudite of the eschatological cognoscente (Go ahead, dig out that dusty dictionary!), nobody seems to know exactly what the impardonable sin is. But I think we can all agree that whatever it is, Satan has committed it---at least one too many times. 

It has been said that "a rolling stone gathers no moss," and while the Rolling Stones have no moss appeal, they do seem to have mass appeal. In 2004 they surpassed all of the rockin' rookies and R&B divas to move into the number one spot in terms of concert ticket sales. It is a spot they have grown comfortable with and their mass appeal, to some extent, is what has driven modern acts like the White Stripes, The Vines, The Strokes, and, to some extent, Jet, to imitate and seek to emulate their style. Yet this mass appeal cannot possibly match the appeal of a stone rolling from the tomb of a risen savior, or the appeal of The Rock of Ages, the "unmoved mover," who got the whole of creation rolling to begin with. 

Because He lives
I can face tomorrow
because He lives
all fear is gone
because I know
He holds the future
and life is worth the living
just because he lives 
extracted from "Because He Lives," by Bill Gaither, 1971

So, if you're going to be a follower of rolling stones, follow the rolling tombstone before you follow the bad boys from Dartford, England. If you're going to be a follower of rock, appreciate what The Rolling Stones have done for the genre, but first follow the Rock of Ages. And, if you happen to be a Rolling Stone, walking around (perhaps by now, with the aid of a cane), trying to find something to paint black as you seek sympathy for the devil, I will not condemn you. After all, your songs are a guilty pleasure for this sinful, if sanctified, saint. No, I will not be your judge or your beast of burden. And though I rescue emotionally damaged folks for a living, I will not attempt an emotional rescue in this case. First of all, The Phantom Tollbooth is the last place I would be expecting you to turn too for answers these days. And divinely appointed doctors are clearly not the sort of doctors you were turning to in the song, “Dear Doctor.” Besides, what good is hanging a rope over a cliff if the if the person dangling on the rocks below would rather hang himself with it than hang onto it for dear life? I couldn't save you if I tried, and I couldn't condemn you either. I've taken Jesus' words "Let him who is without sin throw the first stone," to heart. Instead of condemnation, I will confer the same blessing upon you that you conferred on all of us when the spiritually benighted knight, Mick Jagger sang “Shine a Light:”

May the good Lord shine a light on the mornin' sun!"  

*Readers: don't forget the Dr. BLTrivia challenge! Write with your song titles

For more on the Rolling Stones, check out this link: click here


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