Friday, 14 January 2011

Keef Life

Sig other bought this book because I told him some extracts from it I had read in The Times behind Paywall Of Death were good reading, and also because we were both rowing with Waterstone's and WH Smith, who both now decline to sell us ebooks because we live outside the UK, and he thought he would see if one of them would sell him a print book - and they would.  We have both been hugely entertained and interested by the book.  It was written "with" a journalist, James Fox, whose name I didn't know, but apparently he has been following the Stones for decades, and writing about them too, so Keef trusted him.  Good move.  The book is not only very nicely written, it sounds like Keef's real voice.  I was never that much of a Stones fan in a "mania" kind of way, and there are many songs of theirs I don't really know, but that doesn't matter.  Some of the reviews of the book said that if you were not interested in, or knowledgeable about, guitar stringing and types of chords and country and blues guitarists from decades ago you would not be interested in the book.  Au contraire, a little to my surprise.  I am no guitarist, and not very knowledgeable about this stuff, but I was fascinated by this material.  I loved knowing that he uses five strings not six, and that he was best mates with Gram Parsons, one of the ones, unlike Keef, who died.  I loved knowing that he calls Mick "Brenda" or "Her Majesty".  I heard the voice of outer London, the place I was born, though at the other end of it (Keef and Mick are both from the Kent end).  There is plenty there about addiction, something Keef knows about, though many of us also do who were never rock stars.  I was a smoker for many years, and giving it up seven years ago was the single hardest thing I have ever done.  Prior to this one of the better books I have read which treated on addiction was by Anne Robinson (yes, that one) called "Memoirs of an Unfit Mother".  Anne was drunk for about 15 years.  The big contrast between the drug of choice of Keith Richards and that of Anne Robinson (heroin in his case, though others too) was that on heroin you can stay focused.  Unless you die of course.  Anne cannot remember a whole chunk of her life, because alcohol does that.  Keith can remember all of his.
Keith Richards (wasn't there a time he was called Keith Richard?  I'm sure I remember that from some of the Stones' singles in the 1960s.  The book says nothing about it) knew them all.  And he is still here.  And can remember it all.  As the back cover says, in his handwriting.  They said (someone did) "if you can remember the 60s you weren't there".  I was too young for that, but I knew it was rubbish.  Keith was more there than just about anyone was.  He is a war baby not a boomer, so his perspective on life is not mine.  But he seems to have been kind to the women in his life, despite the casual misogyny of those times, and he has children he loves (one died, an unimaginable tragedy) and, surprisingly to me, he is a home lover and an animal lover, and always has been.  He is very interesting on the creative process too, and how he and Mick worked together on songs.  Even if Lennon and McCartney were both still here (you knew that contrast was going to come up sooner or later, didn't you) you would not find that stuff out from either of them, I fancy.  I really liked that for certain episodes in Keith's life he gave the voice to someone else to describe it, at one point the son Marlon he had with Anita Pallenberg, acknowledging that another person might have a better and clearer perspective on the episode than he had himself.  All in all, impressive.  Thanks Keith for this, and for the way you can play guitar.  And don't fall out of any more trees.


Martin S MP, Reading said...

Good old Keef.

I was in a band briefly at Sussex.

Anonymous said...

Still put off by the fact that it was ghost written, though -- and was disappointed also that JP's memoir was written by Hunter Davis.

He was never called Keith Richard as far as I am aware - although it is, of course, Cliff Richard although that is another story.
On books, I am now going to recommend a novel that I'm currently reading, called 'My Sister My Love' by Joyce Carol Oates.
Based on the case of the little girl child model who was murdered in the states - JonBennet.

It is just brilliant. Highly unusual and has links with We have to Talk about Kevin, also the DB Pierre book. Try it.