Life: Keith RichardsLife: Keith Richards by Keith Richards

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This rambling, vulgar memoir has received heaps of kudos. I’m hard-pressed to understand why. I found “Keef” remote, superior, and amoral. He has spent the better part of his adult life whacked out on drugs, banging any number of “bitches,” neglecting his children, dissing his friends, dodging taxes- and treating it all like one giant frat-boy prank. I suppose his distance in describing the band’s impact on rock and roll in the 60s and 70s is due to his inability to remember much of it. His guard comes down only when he is speaking about music (I hesitate to use the word “write” as I doubt he engaged in much writing; this read like one long ramble into a Dictaphone). Richards’s musical genius is not in question, nor do I like the Stones any less (or any more, really- I’m not that big a fan- just big into 70s nostalgia).

“Life” was an entertaining read if I stepped outside of reality and pretended that this was a Tom Wolfe hyperbolic treatment of an imagined rock star. When I reminded myself that this was a real human being who was able to buy a life of debauchery and face few consequences, it just made me sad. It also made me reconsider the poignancy and honesty of Eric Clapton’s 2009 memoir, and appreciate it all the more. Richards is the better storyteller, but Clapton is the better man.

The title of Richards’s memoir should be “Life: Wasted”

Postscript to Goodreads review: Sheesh, I was pretty harsh wasn’t I? Read the “final” 3/4 of this on Wednesday, when I was hungover from Adavan and Percoset- I hated the thought and feeling of that crap in my system and wondered with revulsion how anyone could embrace drugs with such gusto.

This late 2010 Fresh Air with Terri Gross interview is worth a listen. Fresh Air: Interview with Keith Richards A rebroadcast was on my ipod, which I listened to the day after I finished “Life.”  The insight into music and creative process, as Maria notes in my review comments, is fascinating. Also v. interesting to listen to him backpedal on his criticism of Mick- it’s pretty harsh in the book and delves into the cheap and petty (the size of Mick’s dick, really?).

I know,  it’s only rock-n-roll, and I like (most of) it, yes I do…

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