Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Keith's bio: Warts 'n' warts

Today is a momentous day in my life: I'm about to admit I made a mistake.

My first.

And it’s one of those whoppers that will for better or worse forever alter perceptions of me.

Ready? Here goes.

I read the Keith Richards book, “Life.”

I spent a week learning about his decades-long incapacitations so thorough he needed teams of flunkies just to keep mopping up the vomit and changing his soiled bell bottoms.

I learned how he reacted to the death of his 2-month-old son Tara with the same nonchalance as he did critical slams of “Emotional Rescue.”

It’s tarnishing all my enjoyment of my favorite band.

Of course, it could be worse. I could have written the Keith Richards book “Life.”

Talk about career-killing mistakes. Keith may have killed the only thing he loves more than himself: The Rolling Stones.

He violated the number one rule of the warts ‘n’ all autobiography genre: He actually makes himself look worse than the public perception of him.

His book is warts ‘n’ warts.

I know it makes zero sense for me to be disappointed when a man I’ve always admired for his defiant excesses writes a book defiantly celebrating those excesses, but that’s how I feel.

I might feel differently if he was even the least bit deferential to Mick Jagger, only the greatest performer the world’s ever known.

He devotes four pages to how he wrote the riff for “Satisfaction,” and barely credits Mick as the song’s lyricist

“Satisfaction” is maybe the most important song in rock history. But “Brown Sugar” is a better song.

Here’s all Keith had to say about that one: “‘All Down the Line’ came directly out of ‘Brown Sugar,’ which Mick wrote.”

That’s it. Five words.

He writes about Jagger as if he were the bass player, not the man without whom he’d be nothing.

Keith makes it seem like he did all the writing, all the performing and he’s the reason we keep showing up to see the band perform.

They aren’t true brothers so any Freudian interpretations must be shelved. This isn’t a sibling rivalry.

It’s a sniveling one.

He accuses Jagger of diva-like behavior. He says he acts entitled. He insists on posh frivolities. He demands perfection of those performing with him.

Good heavens. Who does he think he is? Mick Jagger?

Jagger performed a Solomon Burke tribute at last year’s Grammies. It was mesmerizing.

He is electrifying. He is lithe. He moves like quicksilver across polished marble.

He is 68.

There are 1,000 guys like Keith who make great, memorable music that stay true to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll that will forever inspire.

But, c’mon, there’s only one Mick Jagger.

Today Mick is making forgettable music with disposable musicians. Keith is re-forming the solid, but unremarkable X-Pensive Winos.

I wonder if they’ll ever write or perform together again. Jagger hasn’t said a word of graceless rebuttal about the tawdry book, proving he’s truly a man of wealth and taste.

I used to believe Keith was the swashbuckling heart and soul of the Stones, the one who kept them blues-based and more about the music than the giant inflatable hookers Mick liked to bounce around in on stage.

Now I’ve come to believe Mick’s the heart.

Keith’s more like the sole.

With this book, he’s certainly proven himself to be a real heel.

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