Saturday Single No. 35

Originally posted October 6, 2007

A little bit of rock’s history died this week.

Jimmy Hutmaker, 75, crossed over on Wednesday, October 3, in the small lakeside village of Excelsior, Minnesota. He was an eccentric, wandering the streets of the little town on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, a body of water that takes up a good bit of territory west of Minneapolis. According to the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune, “He was different and could be heard talking to himself on Excelsior’s streets, with a cigar clinched in his teeth.”

(The editor in me would have changed that to “clenched in his teeth,” but never mind.)

Hutmaker lived his entire life in Excelsior, a city of about 2,400 tucked up against the south shore of Lake Minnetonka. So he was a resident of the city when the largest attraction there was the Excelsior Amusement Park, a playland with arcades, shows and rides, including a tall wooden roller coaster and a carousel that, after the park closed in 1973, was eventually installed at the Valleyfair amusement park not far away in the city of Shakopee, where it remains to this day.

The Excelsior Amusement Park – which Wikipedia says opened in 1925, inspired by the similar amusement park at New York’s Coney Island – also had a dance hall called Danceland. By the mid-1960s, Danceland was a venue for rock bands to perform, both local bands and those touring the U.S. And in 1964, Danceland hosted an English band called the Rolling Stones.

According to the legend surrounding Hutmaker, the Excelsior eccentric was in Bacon’s drugstore – now long gone – when Mick Jagger came by to have a prescription filled the morning after the Rolling Stones played at Danceland. Hutmaker, who said he had met Jagger at the Stones’ performance the evening before, told Jagger that he had just ordered a cherry Coke at the drugstore but was served a regular Coke instead. But after all, Hutmaker told Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want.”

The Star Tribune, in its account of Hutmaker’s life on the obituary page, notes: “Although the story has never been verified, references to a drugstore, a cherry soda, a prescription and ‘Mr. Jimmy’ – Hutmaker’s nickname – all appear” in the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The song was released in an edited version in 1968 as the B-side of “Honky Tonk Women” (London 910) and a year later was included in full as the closing track on the Stones’ Let It Bleed album.

Some of Hutmaker’s friends think the tale is true, the newspaper reported. When the Rolling Stones played in the Metrodome in Minneapolis in 1997, an Excelsior friend took Hutmaker to the show. “Mr. Jimmy, outfitted in top hat and tails,” reported the Minneapolis newspaper, “held court in the concourse, as news people and others gathered.”

Hutmaker’s friend, Bob Bolles, told the newspaper, “Jimmy stood there, telling his tale of talking to Jagger several times. I’ll never forget Jimmy standing there, giving autographs. We never got back to our seats, because of Jimmy’s popularity.”

So, truth or tall tale? As Buddy Holly sang five years before the Stones played Danceland, “It doesn’t matter anymore.” Legends – and the tale of Mr. Jimmy’s 1964 encounter with Mick Jagger evolved into legend some years ago – never let truth get in the way of a good story.

Mr. Jimmy’s death this made the choice for this week’s Saturday Single an easy one. But the Rolling Stones’ version of the song is omnipresent, and I can’t see any point in posting it. I did some digging and found a 1997 album titled Paint It Blue: Songs of the Rolling Stones. So Luther Allison’s gutsy take on the song Mr. Jimmy inspired – and listen for the clever chorus riff that draws from Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side” – is today’s Saturday Single.

Luther Allison – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” [1997]

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 35”

  1. ‘The Room Was Humming Harder . . .’ « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] We ate a picnic lunch, and – not knowing at all that we were following to some degree in the footsteps of Mick Jagger and Mr. Jimmy – we spent a good portion of the afternoon sampling the rides and […]

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