The Pope finished reading Keith Richards autobio, Life.
I did too.
I’ve consistently done a horrible job memorializing the books I read and films I watch1 because I’m a damn lazy blogger. Before I started working for myself, which coincidentally was also before the omnipresent distraction of the internet and Netflix, I easily consumed five or ten books a week, every week, for years and years without fail. Those days are gone, but still, I do manage to read a few dozen books a year, too bad I haven’t been more diligent about recording which ones.
Films aren’t so hard – I don’t have a moral objection to posting the blurb about movie with a sentence or two of my own reaction, and in fact, expect to see more of those sorts of blog posts in 2011, but book posts are more difficult.
I assume part of the problem is that I always am juggling ten or fifteen books at any given moment: I keep a stash of books in most places I might snatch a moment or two of leisure time – office(s), bedroom, living room, camera bag, iPad, wherever. Unfortunately, this often translates into me *not* finishing books nearly as often as I finish.
Also, since I have fond memories of being a history student at UT, I catch myself wanting to delve a little too deeply into my reviews, instead of tossing out a few thoughts. I’ve had a blog since 20032, so know myself well enough to be cognizant that long posts are rarely completed. Nobody is issuing me a grade based on the profundity of my thoughts, I need to stop pretending .
Long winded intro aside, new year, new rules. Well, attempted new rules. Check back in a few months, and see.
Keith Richards and James Fox wrote Life, an enjoyable romp through the 1960’s, 1970’s, and beyond through the eyes of the most interesting member of the Rolling Stones. Richards frequently claims the reason he survived his decade of being a junky was because he was never greedy about trying to “get more high”, but a few pages later, Richards is so out of it, he’s nodding off while driving a carload of people. Internal contradictions, and unreliable narrator, in other words. Some of Life is a bit self-serving, especially when Richards boasts of his drug-induced stamina, and some is cringe-worthy such as when describing his relations with women met on tour, but fun nonetheless. By the mid-1980’s, Richards runs out of interesting things to say, and the last chapter is even worse – less recollection directly from Keef and more from various compatriots in his circle, or his son, Marlon.
No matter, the Rolling Stones made three great, desert island records,3 another near great album,4 and a bunch of great songs on various other albums, or as singles, and Keith Richards would be a fun dude to be buddies with, if you could handle it. If they would have broken up as they released Tattoo You, I’d respect them a lot more, since nothing released since then5 has been much good. I cannot really criticize musicians for continuing to do what they love, we’ll just say I’m not interested in the current incarnation of the Stones.
He’s been a global avatar of wish fulfillment for over four decades and managed to eke more waking hours out of a 24-hour day than perhaps any other creature alive (thanks, Merck cocaine and amphetamines!). As Keith puts it: “For many years I slept, on average, twice a week. This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes.”
You better believe it. This cat put the joie in joie de vivre. As the legendary guitarist for the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards has done more, been more and seen more than you or I will ever dream of, and reading his autobiography, “Life,” should awaken (if you have a pulse and an I.Q. north of 100) a little bit of the rock star in you.
“If you want to get to the top, you’ve got to start at the bottom,” he says, “same with anything.” Born in 1943 to parents who met as factory workers, Keith was raised in Dartford, an industrial suburb of London. Through the marshes behind the many “lunatic asylums” that seemed to populate Dartford in disproportionate numbers, Keith learned what it felt like to be helpless and afraid, serving as a daily punching bag for bullies on his way home from school. By the time he fought back and won, he’d discovered a fury in himself for which he would later become infamous. The plight of the underdog was his passionate crusade, and anyone or anything that represented injustice in his eyes was fair game. Kate Moss recounts a hilarious anecdote from 1998 in which Keith, sidestepping the festivities of his daughter Angela’s wedding at his manor house, Redlands, finds he’s short some spring onions he laid on a chopping block while fixing himself a light nosh of bangers and mash. When the thieving guest totters into the kitchen with the greens playfully tucked behind his ears, Keith grabs two sabers from the mantelpiece and goes chasing after the poor guy in a homicidal rage. I won’t even touch on the incident involving shepherd’s pie.
(click to continue reading Book Review – Life – By Keith Richards – NYTimes.com.)
It is 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time in the New York office of Keith Richards’s manager, a place that might look ordinary if every wall and shelf were not crammed with some of the world’s most glorious rock ’n’ roll memorabilia. Mr. Richards has a 3 o’clock appointment. “Come on in, he’ll be here in a minute,” an assistant says — and here he comes in a minute, at 3:01. This from a man who once prided himself for operating on Keith Time, as in: the security staff ate the shepherd’s pie that Keith wanted in his dressing room? Then everyone in this packed stadium can bloody well wait. The Rolling Stones don’t play until another shepherd’s pie shows up.
Chalk up the promptness to the man’s new incarnation: he is now Keith Richards, distinguished author. True, he is far from the only rock star to turn memoirist, and far from the only Rolling Stone to write a book about himself — very much about himself. The raven-haired Ron Wood wrote “Ronnie,” in which he described Brian Jones as “me in a blond wig.” Bill Wyman, the band’s retired bass player and bean counter, wrote “Stone Alone,” in which not a 15-shilling demo disc went unmentioned. Now Mr. Richards has written the keeper: “Life,” a big, fierce, game-changing account of the Stones’ nearly half-century-long adventure.
“It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done,” he says about the book. “I’d rather make 10 records.”
(click to continue reading As Keith Richards Remembers It, and He Says He Remembers It All – NYTimes.com.)
For legions of Rolling Stones fans, Keith Richards is not only the heart and soul of the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band, he’s also the very avatar of rebellion: the desperado, the buccaneer, the poète maudit, the soul survivor and main offender, the torn and frayed outlaw, and the coolest dude on the planet, named both No. 1 on the rock stars most-likely-to-die list and the one life form (besides the cockroach) capable of surviving nuclear war.
Halfway through his electrifying new memoir, “Life,” Keith Richards writes about the consequences of fame: the nearly complete loss of privacy and the weirdness of being mythologized by fans as a sort of folk-hero renegade.
“I can’t untie the threads of how much I played up to the part that was written for me,” he says. “I mean the skull ring and the broken tooth and the kohl. Is it half and half? I think in a way your persona, your image, as it used to be known, is like a ball and chain. People think I’m still a goddamn junkie. It’s 30 years since I gave up the dope! Image is like a long shadow. Even when the sun goes down, you can see it.”
(click to continue reading ‘Life,’ Keith Richards’s Memoir – NYTimes.com.)
You get the idea…
For me, the gossip about Mick Jagger’s “tiny todger”, and Brian Jones beating Anita Pallenberg and that Chuck Berry was kind of a dick, and so on, was less interesting than discussion about the music. Keith Richards figuring out open string tuning, for instance, or that multi-track recording is less interesting than pointing microphones at the wall and collecting what bounced off it.Footnotes: