Loads of Learned Lumber

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Keith Richards, _Life_

THIS ONE WAS a bit disappointing, too.  As usual, no one is going to catch up with Dylan.

Begins well--an account of being arrested in Arkansas on the 1975 tour, as loopy and shaggy a British narrative as we have had since Tristram Shandy. Literary minder James Fox (or somebody at Little, Brown, perhaps) takes over the wheel in chapter two, however, and things begin to unwind in more or less coherent chronological order, unfortunately.

Chapters 3 through 10 (pages 67 to 421, about two-thirds of the book) cover the arc from the Crawdaddy Club to the Toronto trial and Some Girls--that is, they cover episodes that, if you are the sort of person who reads books about the Rolling Stones, you already know a lot about. Not much new here. We do learn that Keith is still sore at Brian Jones for being an asshole, still sore at Donald Cammell for coming up with the idea for Performance, and still sore at Mick for having sex with Anita while making Performance.

I was hoping Keith would come clean about his debt to Ry Cooder and the open G tuning (speaking of the making of Performance). No such luck. According to Keith, what he does is a whole 'nother thing than what Ry does, because Keith takes off the sixth string.  Okay.  Right.

On the plus side, Chapter 12 was worthwhile: a beguiling account of the Great Glimmer Civil War of the mid-1980s, Keith's participation in the Chuck Berry concert film, and the making of Talk Is Cheap, the only great solo album by a Rolling Stone.

For my money, the best thing to read about Keith Richards is that long interview he did with Robert Greenfield in 1971, published in consecutive issues of Rolling Stone. (Ironically, that interview was crucial in forming the Brian Jones mythology, a mythology Keith has since set himself to piss all over whenever he can.)  Find that, and skip this.

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