Monday, February 09, 2015

Life, by Keith Richards

Life, by Keith Richards

The song "She Likes the Beatles, I Like the Stones" could have been written about my wife and me, and the title certainly holds true: I do like the Rolling Stones. I picked up Keith Richards' autobiography hoping to learn more about the group, and 500+ pages later I can certainly say I did. The book covers Richards' life from birth to ~2010 and a hell of a lot of band history along the way. The narrative is very scattershot; loosely chronological but bouncing from anecdote to anecdote in a drunken fashion—fitting for the hard-partying rock-and-roll star!

The Stones were named after the Muddy Waters song "Rollin' Stone" and started as a blues band. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Stones have such a strong blues and country influence as "Honky Tonk Women" is my favorite tune and many other of my preferred songs clearly have that sound. Some of the more interesting parts are when Richards goes into the stories behind many of the songs: how the lyrics came about, who wrote what, and what the meanings are. For instance, while it seems obvious now, I had no idea that "You Don't Move Me" off of Keith's first solo album Talk Is Cheap was about the feud between Richards and Jagger. In fact, I was unaware just how close the Stones came to disbanding entirely in the late 1980's; I'm sure glad they didn't because the tour for Steel Wheels was the first time I got to see them perform live, in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. I saw them again in Austin about 25 years later, and would go again in a heartbeat if they make it back this way. Great band, great stage presence, great everything!

A lot of the personal anecdotes I found much more compelling than I expected. Many (if not most) revolve around drugs and alcohol, and in the later years a sad number of attempts to sober up—thankfully eventually successfully. One bit that stuck with me was his approach to religion; his definition of heaven and hell is truly frightening: "[Heaven and hell are] the same place, but heaven is when you get everything you want and you meet Mummy and Daddy and your best friends and you all have a hug and a kiss and you play your harps. Keith and Bert Richards Hell is the same place—no fire and brimstone—but they all just pass by and don't see you. There's nothing, no recognition." I think I prefer the fire and brimstone interpretation! And finally, as you can see from the picture on the right, clearly there is a reason I like Richards—his natural father has great taste in colleges!

First Sentence:
Why did we stop at the 4-Dice Restaurant in Fordyce, Arkansas, for lunch on Independence Day weekend?

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