NEW YORK -- You made the wrong motion, drank the wrong potion

You lost that feeling that's so appealing ...

Now you want to throw the dice ...

You already crapped out twice

You don't move me anymore. -- Keith Richards, "You Don't Move Me Anymore"

In the annals of the Rolling Stones, "You Don't Move Me Anymore" qualifies as a love song from Keith Richards, who wrote it, to Mick Jagger, who inspired it. Which should make their induction at January's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dinner very interesting.

Like the best longtime collaborators, these Rolling Stones have each been half the other's heartbeat, but in recent years, a kind of coronary bypass has been in effect. The Stones haven't toured America since 1981, and when Jagger refused to tour behind or even talk up the band's 1986 album "Dirty Work," opting instead to record and then hype his first solo album, it threw a glaring spotlight on the creative and personal tensions within what's long been called The World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band. Being one of The World's Oldest Rock 'n' Roll Bands, one that's well past the quarter century mark, doesn't help matters. Bassist Bill Wyman is 52. Drummer Charlie Watts is 47. Richards is 44, Jagger 45.

Still, it's taken all this time for Keith Richards, the world's most debonair cadaver and one of rock's classic personalities, to step forward with his first solo effort -- this in an age when alternate bassists in defunct garage bands spew forth solo albums like confetti. But while Jagger's two solo vehicles stiffed commercially and critically, Richards' "Talk Is Cheap" has reaped both sales and accolades, with several critics calling it the best Rolling Stones album since 1972's "Exile on Main Street." Where Jagger trod the path of cold but fashionable high-tech pop with hired studio hands, Richards opted for a warm nod to roots and influences -- James Brown, Stax, Chuck Berry, blues -- working with a tight new band, the X-Pensive Winos, with whom he appears at Constitution Hall tonight. All of which might seem to explain why there have been discussions -- opened by Jagger -- about reconstituting the Stones for an album and tour next year, though the approach actually came before "Talk Is Cheap" took off.

Sitting in his manager's office in New York not long ago, enveloped by smoke from the ever-present cigarettes, throat moistened by the equally omnipresent Rebel Yell sprinkled with ginger ale, Keith Richards surrendered to a mischievous smile while reminiscing about "You Don't Move Me." For him, it proves you can get some satisfaction, hey, hey, hey.

"Half of me's saying I don't want to rub the guy's nose in it," Richards admits, "but of course you're also human, so you stick the knife in and turn it one time. Anything Mick and I do, if we could keep it quiet we would, but it eventually goes public. He's still my friend and it doesn't diminish the work we do -- can do -- together."

Actually, "You Don't Move Me" was a late addition to "Talk Is Cheap." Having written some 30 songs with drummer and new collaborator Steve Jordan, Richards found himself at a creative impasse. Jordan offered a suggestion: "When in doubt, write about Mick."

"It was a trigger," Richards says. "In 10 minutes, the song was finished."

Under the madly tousled hair -- black with flecks of gray -- the smile cracks again. Keith Richards may not have seen and done it all, but he's seen and done enough for the evidence to show like a leathery polygraph chart on his face. If he were as hard as he looks, he'd probably be cutting diamonds instead of records. But in person, he's surprisingly soft and genial. Thoughts roll off his tongue in a gentle, almost fey manner.

If there's a current of acrimony in "You Don't Move Me," it's only because the Jagger-Richards relationship is as deep as it is troubled. They've known each other since they were toddlers in the London suburb of Dartford, though their friendship didn't jell until 1960 when they were teen-agers connected by a mutual devotion to blues and rock 'n' roll. Then came guitarist Brian Jones, followed by Bill Wyman; when Charlie Watts joined in 1963, the Stones were ready to roll -- and the brotherhood of the Glimmer Twins stood as fixed as the partnership between John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

"And of course, it's gone on longer," notes Richards. "I can understand from a superfi-cial point of view people thinking it's just these two rich rock superstars struggling with their egos, which is embarrassing. It's far more complex than that. Mick and I have never been at the point where we couldn't talk about things, though we've sometimes had to cut our conversations short and leave. After 25 years of working together we've reached a point where it's family squabbles, growing pains -- and it's not so much the actual arguments and details, but how you come out of it that counts.

"As I said to Mick, 'Darling, this thing is bigger than both of us and we can't even get divorced.' "

Take a Message to Mick If the Jagger-Richards union ever dissolved, there's little doubt who would get custody of the band's reputation. Richards has always been the Corner Stone, not just because his pungent rhythm guitar has provided the underpinning of classics like "Satisfaction," "Brown Sugar," "Gimme Shelter" and "Honky Tonk Women" -- offering more in a single stroked chord than most of today's speed merchants do in a solo -- but because he seemed, even more than Jagger, the archetype of Rock's Bad Boy.

Jagger has always been out front, even more so as the Stones played on bigger and bigger stages, yet his increasing distance from the band seemed to be more than merely physical. For a long time, the Stones would tour every three years, but after 1981, things went out of kilter. Talking to Jagger, you got the feeling he was bored by the whole thing. Then again, Jagger is so cold and elusive, you suspect he's bored by everything.

His decision to skip out on "Dirty Work" pulled the rug out from under the band and made Richards' avowed duty -- keeping the Stones together and rolling -- that much more difficult.

"That's the major problem between Mick and myself," Richards says. "He has a tremendous fear about how to take {the band} further. He felt they were a millstone around his neck and he was scared of going into rock 'n' roll nostalgia land without any way out. I saw it in a totally different light -- we're still together, still at the cutting edge, and this is one of the most exciting possibilities of the Stones' career. Rock 'n' roll is maturing, but how and where does goes it go from here? It's not just for kids growing up. You can have that still, but we don't know what we can get from the other end of it, and to me that's the most interesting, uncharted area."

Deciding to go solo "was difficult," Richards says, "because it was a final admission to myself that I couldn't hold the Stones together; sometimes I think I'm Superman, so that was a bitter pill to swallow. But I've got a key to the cage now and I can get in and out when I want. Before that I didn't."

Out of the cage, he's just another X-Pensive Wino. Yes, he'll probably do a few Stones classics, though he's down on Jagger for touring the Far East with a pickup band doing mostly Stones material. "This is one of the things that disturb me about Michael. He's done two solo albums, so what's the point? To me you either have the Stones or not; you have the whole lot or forget it."

At least Richards has backed off from his post-"Dirty Work" threat to slit Jagger's throat if he toured without the Stones. In fact, there were rumors for a while that the remaining Stones would tour with Terence Trent D'Arby as front man. "That," Richards notes, debunking the notion, "would be working with more of a narcissist than Mick is."

Working is what he's ready for now. "It's been too long for me," he says, looking forward to what he calls the "joyful irresponsibility" of touring again. "I mean, it's nice to leave a mess behind and be 500 miles away the next day and not have to explain to anybody what went down."

But a tour brings responsibility as well. "When you write songs and make records, if you don't do the other part of the game -- taking it out there, straight, face to face with the public -- then you're living in a bubble, you're never going to get any feedback. Music really only counts when you're playing it on stage ... It's an exchange of energy and interaction between the musicians and then between the musicians and the audience. If you don't do that other third, I can't imagine why you'd want to do it in the first place."

Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude It's been a long road for the former choirboy. Yes, Keith Richards was once a soprano in the choir at Westminster Abbey, until his voice broke. Performed for the queen back in 1957. Joining the choir got him out of chemistry; later on, of course, music got him into chemistry -- positively when it came to the band, negatively when it came to drugs.

The Stones had started out as "young missionaries" of black American roots music, covering blues and R&B classics with typical British zeal. They were naughty, rude, raucous and irreverent, the obverse of the Beatles -- not the kind of boys you'd bring home to Mum. Slowly moving toward their own identity, the Stones scored their first self-penned hit in 1965 with "The Last Time," following it up with "Satisfaction," "Get Off My Cloud" and a steady, if occasionally interrupted, flow of other singles.

In 1967, Jagger and Richards were arrested on minor marijuana charges, and though public outcry led the courts to override what had originally been stiff sentences, a pattern of legal problems had begun. Lead guitarist Brian Jones left the group and was found drowned in his pool a month later. Jones was replaced (by Mick Taylor and then Ron Wood), and the band continued to grow and make oodles of money. But its very success -- according to Richards -- led to its fall.

"In 1971 we were forced to make a decision courtesy of the British government -- live in England and {because of high taxes} not be able to afford another set of guitar strings, or move and keep the band together. Hence 'Exile on Main Street.'

"Why two guitar players and drummer and a singer should appear to be a threat to a thousand-year-old institution I still can't figure out. There must have been orders to 'lean on these cats' -- which they failed at miserably because their henchmen just weren't up to the job. So then they hit us with the economics."

The Stones soon scattered to less taxing locales -- France, New York, Jamaica. "We were forced out of our own environment," Richards says. "At first that spurred us to a greater effort, but a lot of what went down after 'Exile,' what's generally considered the Stones' low period, had to do with trying to keep the band together on a global level. You couldn't just call up and say, 'Hey, man, I've got a great song, I'll be around to your place in 10 minutes.' Suddenly we were 3,000 miles apart, and had to actually pull the records together in the studio."

Richards' battles with drugs, heroin in particular, obviously didn't help. "I'm an easy target," he admits, adding that going back and listening to records from that period, "I wonder how I managed to get anything out."

In 1977 he was arrested in Toronto for heroin possession. For a while, it looked as if the Rolling Stone was going to be breaking rocks. "By all rights I should have done jail time," he says, though he'd have preferred to deal with his addiction "as a person in private ... it was my problem, nobody else's."

Except that it was a Stones problem as well. "When you're in court for two years, you don't get an awful lot of time to think about what you're supposed to be doing, and they're embarrassed that you're a problem on their hands," Richards says.

"I was screwing up my family and my band, the two things I love. When I was busted in Toronto I thought I'd blown it completely. I thought I'd be replaced and that I'd see my kids when they'd grown up. I didn't see any way out."

It was during this time that Jagger began to shoulder more of the responsibility for running the Stones. After a penance concert and a long struggle to clean himself up, Richards found he had, in some subtle ways, lost control of the band. "Just then you had the punks come along, who are now very boring old" folks themselves, he says. "But everybody needs a kick up the bum occasionally and that's where we got 'Some Girls' from."

Looking back, Richards sees the provocative stance of groups like the Sex Pistols as nothing more than a rip-off of the Stones' original belligerence. "The one thing they had was attitude, but they didn't have the music. Attitude's okay, you need a lot of that, but you've got to be able to back it up. Attitude has to sit on something."

'Everybody Has a Voice' None of the songs on "Talk Is Cheap," Keith Richards says -- even those that sound as if they were chiseled from primordial Stone -- was ever intended for the band. He may, as one English critic wrote, have strung together a few easy-to-remember phrases ("Whip It Up," "Take It So Hard") with hard-to-forget riffs, but they are all newborn.

"I couldn't do it while I was with the Stones," he insists. "It would have been like Solomon and the baby. If you write a good song, are you going to put it in the Stones' pocket or keep it for yourself? Why put yourself in that position when you have the perfectly viable instrument?"

Building a new band may have been easier than beating the old one into shape after long breaks, something Richards had been doing for 15 years. The Winos include drummer Steve Jordan, a longtime friend, alumnus of the Letterman show and part of the band Richards put together for the Chuck Berry film, "Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!"; bassist Charley Drayton; lead guitarist Waddy Wachtel; and keyboard player Ivan Neville. "I was looking for a real band, and we'd played with each other for years, so it's not a bunch of strangers."

Much of the album was recorded -- in Toronto, as it happens -- over 10 days, with a lot of first takes making it onto the final product. Like the Stones in their heyday, the new band is relaxed and spontaneous, locking easily into some lean, basic grooves.

"I love first takes," says Richards. "You're not going to be able to superproduce this kind of sound anyway. You're going for the magic on this empty canvas of silence, this empty page. It can't be measured in any technological sense, there's no meter, but you can capture a feeling, and when you push playback that feeling will come out. With the Stones, I've always worked on the same premise." He laughs. "There have been a lot more professional-sounding bands ... "

Fronting a group, Richards says, requires a different energy; it's easier being off-center than singing leads in the shadow of one of rock's best-known vocalists. He's sung before, occasionally, but a lot of people are surprised that Richards has suddenly been revealed as a convincing vocalist in the Eric Clapton mold. "Everybody has a voice, and expression," he says.

"I can't play certain things that I could if somebody else were singing," Richards concedes. "I still have to find my gaps and spaces, but I'm finding it very interesting where I can lay out and lay back. I've always enjoyed singing and if you're learning, it's always interesting. It's only when you think you know everything that you become boring."

He hasn't worked this constantly since the middle '60s, he says, and "for a musician, that's a great thing. It was always starting/stopping with the Stones because we're such a big act, so we're either doing a huge tour or nothing for a year. You're so big you can't work." Now it's like starting over, working smaller venues like Constitution Hall. "There's nothing better in life than looking forward to something," Richards says.

He won't be jumping around in lemon yellow tights ("though I do have better legs than Mick") or swinging out over the audience in a cherry picker. "I'm not apart from the band, I'm still playing. It's odd because you've almost got to believe in this divinity that's been fed to you from the audience in order to do the gig. It's really a big job."

So, apparently, is being Keith Richards -- but not because of the reality. It's the image that wears him down.

"I understand the mythical quality," he says quietly. "Images are like very long shadows and I'm sure that I'm still perceived by an awful lot of people for what I did 10, 15 years ago ... Obviously a certain part of me is like that, but the trouble with images is that they tend to accentuate just one side of somebody -- and there's nobody who could be 'Keith Richards,' let alone Keith Richards. Nobody could live that way.

"What worries me is seeing kids trying to copy me in a very superficial way, trying to be like me, drinking bottles of bourbon as if that was all there was to it. I've been a family man all my life -- I have a 19-year-old son, a 16-year-old daughter, two little girls -- and I've always had somebody to come home to. There's more to it than just playing Jolly Roger, although that was a certain aspect of me."

Richards pulls at a ring on his finger. It is mostly skull, a little crossbones.

"Wherever I am in the world, I think this is what we really look like," he says. "Just a little bit of flesh. The one thing this job has given me more than anything is the means to travel around the world and find out that everybody is basically the same. And that's why I wear it, not because I'm a pirate. I mean, I've had my moments of raping and pillaging, but I try and live a normal life. I'm sure Blackbeard had his moments of tenderness.

"You're not just a rock 'n' roll guitar player. You can still be a man. You can still grow up."