Sunday, November 14, 2010

Keith Richard's Life

Reading Keith's 500-page plus autobiography is like reading a Rock & Roll fairytale. So many wild stories made me stop and think: did that really happen to him? I'd like to think that they did. Inside the front sleeve of the hardcover book, the man says that he remembers everything, or almost everything. For some parts, he relies on his close friends and family to tell the story, so we get different perspectives.

I thought the first part of the book was a tad boring, but then I usually don't like to read about people's childhoods. But from page 100 onwards, it starts to get real interesting, almost addictive at times. Speaking of 'addictive', Keith's experiences about drugs is told in excruciating detail, some of which are not for the fainthearted. And how bout those countless run-ins with the cops during the 60's and 70's? He could've almost gone to jail for many years on several occasions, but didn't. If he'd gone to jail, future generations would not be exposed to the Rolling Stones, and thus, not hear the greatest Rock & Roll music ever made. So there is a God after all.

Then there's the relationships between him and his band-mates, in particular Mick Jagger and Brian Jones. It's some no-holds barred stuff here. I don't wanna spoil anything. Go read it for yourself. Also his friendship with the late great Gram Parsons was beautiful and a tragic one.

But I read Life mainly not for the sex and drugs, but for the music. I love the way he talks about his influences -- the Blues, and also his feelings after hearing Elvis' Heartbreak Hotel for the first time. Really passionate stuff. The Stones aimed to be the anti-Beatles, and also the first English Chicago Blues band. The latter I didn't know previously. Also you learn lots of things about how he and Mick write songs and their creative process together. But of course, the best part is Keith talking about the guitar, and the famous open tunings he used on the Stones' best songs. It's almost as exhilarating as listening to Jumpin' Jack Flash and Satisfaction.

Keith writes in a language that's uniquely his own. After spending a good amount of time reading, you'll feel as if he's talking directly to you, like a really good friend. Life is certainly one of the most insightful music autobiographies ever written. So don't consider yourself a Stones fan unless you've ate this book up. Which means don't wear that fucking t-shirt with the red tongue. Check out the new interviews with Keef at Little Steven's Underground Garage.