Just finished ‘Life,’ by Keith Richards. I don’t know what I expected, maybe something on the order of Bob Dylan’s last effort, interesting but somewhat disjointed and a bit hazy around the edges, but ‘Life’ is much better than that. It’s sharp, focused, lucid and fascinating. ‘I haven’t forgotten a thing,’ says Keith, and I can almost believe it. If you lived through the sixties, or maybe if you just want to know where rock and roll came from, this book is a great place to start. And there is no doubt that Richards is a great composer. Listen to the first ten seconds of nearly anything he’s done, tunes as varied as ‘Paint it Black,’ ‘Play with Fire,’ ‘Start Me Up,’ ‘Wild Horses’ and maybe about a hundred more, in each case you immediately know you’re in the hands of a master. Time after time, Richards nails you with a clean, elemental hook unlike just about anything you’ve heard before. Other musicians pull that one off maybe once or twice in a career. A good example is The Black Crowes on ‘Twice As Hard,’ they grab you with a great, beautiful distinctive riff that carries through the whole song. And they haven’t come close to that since.
Richards does it over and over and over again.
The only thing missing, maybe, is a certain depth of feeling. Very early on, Richards became a guy who could throw money at problems instead of dealing with them, and he seemed to move in and out of people’s lives very casually, particularly as a young man. Getting older, maybe you begin to notice that light at the end of the tunnel, the one that seems to be getting closer, and once you realize, yeah, man, that’s the train, maybe then your attachments to other people begin to take on a bit more significance.
At any rate, ‘Life’ is a great read, well worth your time.