Happy New Year!
I've spent the last three days wrapped around Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards' massive tome "Life." While the sheer size of the book might seem daunting to some, reading "Life" is not unlike listening to your most adventurous friend reveal their exploits at a great cocktail party. And whenever you think one tale might be too outrageous to be believed, Richards has testimonials backing his account / offering an opposing view from fellow musicians, partners in crime, supermodels, managers and family members. Pretty much everyone save for his core band members.
Much of the hubbub surrounding the release of "Life" has been focused on Mick Jagger's hissy fit about the Stones' dirty laundry being aired in public. But even the most casual rock music listener knows Jagger and Richards haven't gotten along for decades, an animosity Richards attributes to the ego trip universally known in the music world as: LVS (Lead Vocalist Syndrome).
While Richards lays out an excellent case, it's not hard to see how Jagger got a swelled head from Richards' attitude towards Jagger in the 70s, which Richards sums up as: "you pick up the slack, I'll pick up the smack." While not an insufferable jerk on dope, Richards paints a self-portrait of a man who let his chemical monkey run his life over a long period of time. He struggled with nonstop hassles by the man, which made the band employ a legion of legal beagles around the world. He had to relocate constantly around the world. And perhaps Richards' most difficult challenge: his fifteen years in a dope-fueled, tempestuous relationship with baby mama Anita Pallenberg.
But unlike the "dope is bad mmkay" toxic shock of Niki Sixx's "The Heroin Diaries" - Richards' "Life" delves into the music and social changes that he helped popularize around the world. Richards gives deference to his musical heroes, and instead of just dropping their names and ripping off their licks - he took them on the road, invited them to his homes and gave them new life. It's inspirational to see a man who has been everyplace and seen it all - that is not bitter. Richards is a benevolent pirate. He may be a simple troubadour with more money than God - but is grounded enough to take family winnebago trips to Oklahoma City.
There's no reason for anyone to go to Oklahoma City. But if Keith Richards' life has room for the banal, your relatively banal life has room for Keith Richards' "Life."