I guess I wanted Captain Teague. I wanted to hear all the antics. I wanted to hear the stories behind the stories. I really wanted to read Keith Richards’ memoir, Life. While I have never been a Rolling Stones fan, per se, they have always been in regular musical rotation in my life. I mean, “Get Off of My Cloud” was the number one song on the day I was born, so clearly, the Rolling Stones have always been there for me. So I heard things, you know? Read things. Some of it seemed ridiculous and exaggerated, and those were the stories that ended up being true. Keith Richards writes about rumors I should have apparently known but didn’t, which is fine because they ended up being untrue after all.
Sadly, however, I simply didn’t feel much passion in Richards’ storytelling. He obviously has extreme passion for his music and for other musicians. He names a lot of names. And I honestly enjoyed the first few sections of his book.
He grew up near poverty level in Dartford, Kent, England and learned life’s lessons the hard way, with daily beatings from the other children and living in less than humane conditions after World War II. His family was as colorful as he is and I enjoyed hearing the tales of his tenacity and of meeting Mick Jagger and the early days of not only the Rolling Stones, but Keith Richards himself. I wanted more of that!
He lost me in the late sixties and early seventies in a heavy haze of drugs. I was not impressed with his drug usage and grew tired of his roller coaster ride with sobriety and insanity. I am not a big fan of junkies, sorry mate.
I am often torn between feeling sorry for celebrities and feeling disgusted by the attitude. Richards seems to be baffled by the reasons why the authorities would stalk him to such a degree. “I’m just a guitar player, why do you care what I do?” I get that, but, additionally, they care what you do because you are a public figure and what you’re doing is harmful and, frankly, illegal.
Richards takes great care in describing the music. All music. He’s amazingly passionate about that and I am impressed. Strangely, however, he takes none of that care in mentioning the loss of family and friends or his feelings at certain key times in his life. He seemed to brush over those matters. It seemed very strange to me.
By the end of the book I was really just counting down the pages. I was doing the math (547 pages with 238 left, at 30 words per hour I should be able to finish this book by a week from Thursday) and I am not a math person! I love music and stories and poetry and passion. Things I thought I would find in Keith Richards. I wanted to hear that he didn’t really snort his father’s ashes (he did). I wanted to hear his side of the stories where people wound up wounded or worse after partying with him. I wanted to hear about his children and his love affairs. He didn’t delve into these topics with much feeling. It almost felt like he was trying to relate stories that he had heard about himself, not what he actually remembered or felt about them.
Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed by this memoir.