Look at the top selling non-fiction hardcover books: George W’s memoirs of why he did what he did, the autobiography of Mark Twain, Sarah Palin’s Palinographic view of the world, Glenn Beck’s ranting and a little something called Life by some guy named Keith Richards (and his pal, James Fox).
I just finished Life, and if you have a passing interest in sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, music, celebrity, adventure, philosophy, history, travel or just cooking tips for bangers and mash, you’ll want to give these 500-plus pages a go.
Keith is half of the Glimmer Twins, Jagger/Richards, the songwriting backbone of the Rolling Stones. He’s also the guy who has more lives than a dozen cats. And sounded a lot better doing it.
It’s a fascinating read of how young white English lads long to be black American bluesmen and how clever management and masterful media manipulation catapults them to fame and fortune. There’s the inevitable bouts with sex, jealousy, cheating on friends, and addiction to drugs, and how all these things conspire to take a man and his band to the brink. Most deadly of all, however, it’s the tale of how egos blossom and explode, choking the friendships of the past and almost laying waste to all in its path.
It’s all there, in surprising digestible prose.
Of course, this is only Keith’s side of the story, with lots of corroborating witnesses, and it will be interesting to see if Mick Jagger has any published rebuttal. For even a casual fan of rock, you’ll love the ride and marvel at the intricacies of a musician’s mind. Much like Bob Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume 1, it’s fascinating and enlightening to see what sponges these musical geniuses are. How they expose themselves to all forms of music and artistic expression, then create their own voices from the stew of all they’ve absorbed.
I’ve always been a Stones fan, and have been fortunate enough to have seen them a half dozen times, from their glory days in the 70’s, the inflatable theatrics days of the 80’s and 90’s, all the way through the stripped down brilliance of the A Bigger Bang tour in the 21st century. Throughout it all, there’s always been Keith Richards laying down some of the most iconic rock riffs with cool ease and a cigarette dropping from his lips. While some guitarists work hard to show you how incredibly difficult it is to play, Keith simply plays with poetic, idle ease. Life gives you a terrific peek behind what makes him tick and how he keeps on ticking.