Diane Prokop, March 12, 2011 (view all comments by Diane Prokop)
Keith Richards’ memoir, Life, is a great read on so many levels and for so many reasons I don’t know where to begin. The first reason may actually qualify this book as a self-help tome for those who carry around a ton of guilt regarding a past full of bad choices. “Life” will make your checkered past look as though you’ve been living the life of a monk in comparison. Believe me when I say that nothing you’ve ever done could come close to Richards’ life lived in extremis. No amount of drinking, debauchery, even gun-toting partying could come close to the life Richard’s portrays in this tell-all. It’s an Our Father combined with a three Hail Mary pass for those of you still having flashbacks about that time you dropped acid and ran naked through your neighbor’s yard.
That he lived to tell about it is another reason entirely. The guy deserves your ear. He’s 67 and still going strong and there’s a lot to learn from him about living the life you dream of and never leaving a stone unturned when opportunity knocks. He worked hard, played hard and amazingly remembers everything down to how much cocaine he did, where he hid it, who the judge was (there were a lot of them) and what he was wearing at the time. His story unfolds with total candor and lots of humility, amazingly. He comes across as quite a likable guy who could charm your grandmother.
Of course there’s also the fact that he was the life force of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time and that’s not just my opinion. Try and name any other band besides The Rolling Stones that wrote so many great songs, over such a long span, with so many hits and just so much of everything AND is still out there doing it in their sixties. You can’t - there is no one else.
For those of us who rocked along with the Stones in the late 60s and into the 70s, this book is a special treat. It’s a time capsule that will make you want to dig around in closet for your black leather pants and boots, find a big doobie and kick up the volume on Let It Bleed which I’m listening to right now (without the getup or the doobie). Since Richards remembers everything, you’ll be able to fill in the blanks on what actually happened back then - a big help for the boomers out there.
Finally, for us music geeks, there’s plenty to keep you happy with details on how they wrote many of their best songs. Apparently Richards can write songs in his sleep as well as when he’s falling down drunk or on a seven-day heroin binge. He talks a lot about open five-string tuning that he discovered in the late sixties and used in Brown Sugar, Honky Tonk Women and Satisfaction. I love the shout outs to all the Chicago rhythm and blues musicians who Richards say influenced him. In fact, he gives plenty of credit all the way around cuz that’s just the kinda guy he is.
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davidj1821, January 7, 2011 (view all comments by davidj1821)
An autobiography by a living legend as only he can remember it spanning over 40 years. The tales he lived to tell are facinating in their own right and give a good account of Keith's ups and downs and also a snapshot glance back on the history of the Rolling Stones too. This is too good to pass up. Don't miss it!
BinkMom, January 5, 2011 (view all comments by BinkMom)
A surprising lucid account of Keith Richard's life and music, it made me feel like I would actually enjoy having a conversation with him. He comes across as a much more intelligent, talented, ambitious and insightful person than I would have expected (being just a casual fan of the Stones) - definitely not the stereotype of a drug-addled burn-out.
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Seeing Keith Richards several times in concert over the many years with both the Rolling Stones and his X-Spensive Winos, I knew he remembered it all. You cannot have more energy and control of your music and band, in 1988, like Keith had, in his late 40's, than other musicians in their 20's do. Only a strong and active mind could do it all those years and be playing as well as rock music can be played night after night on tour like Keith was.
That strong mind starts at page 1 and doesn't ever shut off throughout this very well done autobiography. It is clear in reading it, that this was no dashed off chat with a writer with Keith's contribution being the autograph he gives all purchasers on the hardback cover. A nice gesture. As in the best practice of true autobiography, Keith poses his interior monologues around his circumstances and actions that, while brutally honest at times, offer up what he has said in many interviews over the years and more. It's the more that Keith delivers that had me buy the book after several shelf skims. The same strong mind that knows that he can't omit public details around a public life, the easy part, but knows that with so many caring fans and the just curious, that he's got to tell with unrelenting honesty what he thinks of his own history of his life and his inter-relationships with Mick Jagger and many others not quite so famous - the hard part.
He does all this with honesty, humor, self debate and a joy that runs through the book. For almost 50 years, Keith has been one of the major measuring sticks about what it means to make great music and be cool. With this book, I would say that he also becomes a measuring stick on how to tell ones life story in an entertaining, adult and meaningful way.
barbara loutos, January 2, 2011 (view all comments by barbara loutos)
having written Keith off as nothing but a ridiculous parody of himself, I was truly surprised to find out how intelligent he is. His observations of the times he's lived through are interesting and full of insight. A true artist.
Little Brown and Company -
This riveting autobiography by celebrated (and famously hard-living) guitar legend Keith Richards reads with the unforgettable hook and crisp ferocity of the best Rolling Stones songs — most of which you'll rush to replay after learning about their creation.
by Cindy P.,
Admit it, you didn't expect Keith to remember much, did you? Well, you were so wrong. His story is off-the-charts awesome, and, taken along with the Stones in Exile documentary, it made my year. Together they are everything I always wanted from my favorite genius outlaw.
by Cindy P.
"Review A Day"
by Jeff Baker, The Oregonian,
"Keith Richards, 19 years old and a good kid at heart, wrote a letter to his Aunt Patty in 1962. After joking about the English weather — "I wonder which day summer falls on this year?" — he describes meeting Mick Jagger on a train station..." (Read the entire Oregonian review)
In a voice that is uniquely and unmistakably him — part growl, part laugh — Keith Richards brings us the truest rock-and-roll life of our times, unfettered and fearless and true.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and eBooks — here at Powells.com.