You Can't Always Get What You Want
October 11, 2007 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Ask any one-time resident of Excelsior, MN about Jimmy "the bum" Hutmaker and you are sure to hear a tale about their experiences with a treasured local character. Some of those tales are the stuff of the best urban legends. In fact, many wrongly believed that the man who walked Main Street with a cigar invariably clenched in his teeth was homeless. Perhaps the most remarkable story about this beloved man was the tale about a day back in the 60s when Mr. Jimmy met a man named Jagger in the old Bacon's drug store. Excelsior lost a piece of history last week when Jimmy died. Since hearing the news, I am finding myself saddened by the loss of a character from my youth. RIP Mr. Jimmy.
posted by Lola_G (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I do not believe this story.

1. The source is a crazy guy.
2. Unlikely this song was written in 1964, or that the story was so compelling that Jagger had to use it in 1967-68.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:10 AM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Interesting character; thanks for the post. But -- with all due respect -- if that story about Jagger and Mr. Jimmy is true, I'll eat my hat. It sounds like pure Snopes fodder.
posted by GrammarMoses at 11:10 AM on October 11, 2007

I dunno, it might be true. Not many people know the original lyrics go,

"You can't always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes, you just mind find,
another store that has Cherry Coke."
posted by starman at 11:14 AM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by DU at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2007

Don't let the fact that this guy is crazy throw you off. He is in fact dead.
posted by phaedon at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2007

Or, you know...

"I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standin' in line with Mr. Jimmy
A-man, did he look pretty ill

We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was 'dead'"
posted by Demogorgon at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2007

I remember Mr. Jimmy from when I would wander around Excelsior in my teen years, buying stupid paperbacks at the used book store and watching second run movies at the Dock theater. Even then, his Rolling Stone story had pretty much thoroughly been discredited by the aspiring rock critics at Minnetonka High School, but I appreciate that he had a good story and stuck to it, true or not.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:25 AM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

The song's obviously about addiction. Specifically, Marianne's heroin habit at that time and having a diamorphine script filled at a Chelsea pharmacy. The soda refers to a fix, cherry red, the colour of the blood in the syringe, 'dead' being the likely outcome.

This is consistent with the rest of their output during this period. cf. Dead Flowers, Monkey Man, etc. and is the only interpretation that makes any makes sense.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:45 AM on October 11, 2007

I always assumed it was "Mr. Jimi", as in Hendrix. who was living in London ("Chelsea") at the time with the Experience.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:53 AM on October 11, 2007

I'm not certain I believe the story either but I think it's sweet. And I don't know why one explanation is mutually exclusive of the other. Maybe Mick found something poetic in that moment of a homeless looking man telling him that "you can't always get what you want" and turned it into a larger metaphor.

Stories, songs, etc. are rarely based on one simple memory or experience.
posted by Lola_G at 12:04 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I always thought Mr. Jimmy was supposed to be a sick junkie waiting in line to get his (probably illicit) prescription filled.

Still, the Excelsior guy seems cool, and it's sad that he's dead.

posted by Afroblanco at 12:22 PM on October 11, 2007

posted by nonliteral at 12:23 PM on October 11, 2007

I like this story. Having grown up in Execelsior, I encountered and spoke to Jimmy many times as a child. He was the closest thing I knew to a celebrity! And other than brief encounters with Micky Dolenz and Bobby McFerrin, he remains so today. My mom told me that he had died last week and I was quite sad. I didn't realize that he was in his 70's, he always seemed younger. Excelsior is such a nice little town as it is and I think that having a character like Jimmy around only adds to its charm.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:24 PM on October 11, 2007

God, how many of us are from Minnetonka?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:30 PM on October 11, 2007

Astro Zombie - better question: How many of us couldn't wait to get away?
posted by Lola_G at 12:41 PM on October 11, 2007

I suspect we're everywhere! Though no one will really talk about it as it kind of ruins your street cred.

On preview: Lola has it right.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:43 PM on October 11, 2007

The Readymen, who did a rave up version of "Shortnin' Bread," were from Minnetonka. So at least it had that going for it. Also, when it still existed, the Mai Tai in Excelsion was a dynamite tiki-themed restaurant.

I also have a certain fondness for the Old Log theater. But I suffer from an excess of civic pride.

And, no, I don't currently live in Excelsior, and have no plans to move back.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:51 PM on October 11, 2007

I love the Old Log. When I was in grade school, there was an urban legend that went all around school that the Old Log is where Nick Nolte started his career.

Excelsior is the only place in the western suburbs that I would ever consider living. It really is a lovely little town, if a bit gentrified (if you can say that about a small town) now.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:09 PM on October 11, 2007

Nick Nolte really did start his career there! I forgot about that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:24 PM on October 11, 2007

Of course, Phelge says he is Mr.Jimmy.
posted by stevil at 3:07 PM on October 11, 2007

Astro Zombie and Lola_G: for real? You two also? Here's at least Minnetonkan #3.
(-spent 10 years in the good but stiflingly preppy schools before high-tailing it to the U and then the east coast)
posted by whatzit at 3:10 PM on October 11, 2007

Some of us grew up in the city, but dated a couple lovely women from the greater Minnetonka/Excelsior area and had this interesting gentleman pointed out to me on a beautiful summer day, she said "He's the Mister Jimmy from the Stones' song."

My reply (and I'm sure it lost me points in the long run): "Really? That seems pretty fucking unlikely."

Still sorry to hear he's dead though, he lent some sadly needed color to an otherwise gray palette.
posted by Sphinx at 6:29 PM on October 11, 2007

I was gonna be all "Hey I remember crazy Jimmy too" until I saw it was my sister that made the FPP. But, hey, I'm the only one of the family soon to be freezing his ass off in this state. Alas, I was not a Skipper though.
posted by DonnieSticks at 9:30 PM on October 11, 2007

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