Monday, November 1, 2010

Sometimes...You Get What You Need

I like the Rolling Stones okay. Given the choice--or if I had to choose without thinking about it first--I'd pick the Beatles, or even the Who. So, I wouldn't call myself a fan. But they sure have given us a lot of good music over the last billion years or so.

Something I'm really not a fan of is the celebrity memoir. We already know so much about their lives, in general they don't need the money generated by a book, and, to be frank, I usually just don't care.

But for some reason, I'm utterly entranced by the idea of Keith Richards's new memoir, Life, released last week. I was charmed a few months ago by this article in the Sunday Times, which tells about Richards "quietly nurturing his inner bookworm" over the course of the last four decades, amassing huge libraries at his homes in Sussex and Connecticut, lending out favorite books to friends, and leaving tasty tomes on the guest room bedside table. Then I was intrigued by the buzz leading up to the book's publication last week, which drove customers into the store clamoring for it days before it was even released. And I was kind of thrilled to see him keeping pace with John Grisham and, better yet, Glenn Beck, who both released books the same day.

And it seems that Mr. Richards knows how to tell a story, full of juicy details but not investing them with any earth-shattering significance. The New York Times says that Richards's "prose is like his guitar playing: intense, elemental, utterly distinctive and achingly, emotionally direct." And the Guardian notes that "He is surprisingly illuminating on chord structures and the like, the kind of thing that in most rock memoirs has me skipping pages to get to the next drug bust or wrecked hotel room." And how very engaging Richards was in his conversation with Terry Gross on Fresh Air the day before his book hit the streets, talking about Beatles vs. Stones, American rock 'n roll, and, of course, the groupies.

Do the Baby Boomers need this memoir? Why is it speaking so to them (okay, us, even though I was born at the absolute end of the baby boom)? Is it because the music is so beloved? Or perhaps it's because, beyond simply surviving, Keith Richards has managed to survive with aplomb and wit? Whatever the reason, I suspect we'll see that this memoir has as strong an impact on the upcoming holiday book-buying season as Clapton did three years ago. Will I read the book myself? Well...probably not. But I'll be thumbing through it in the breakroom now and again to see what tidbits I come across.

Sometimes you really do get what you need.



Man of la Books said...

Once I read the Sunday Times article I also had a whole new appreciation for Kieth Richards (I posted the article on Librarything).

I quote him often “When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equaliser.”

Sky Princess said...

I am really looking forward to reading this book! I read the Clapton book and now I do not like Eric anymore. He is a jerk, go figure! Will I feel the same way about Keith? Remains to be seen.

EnriqueFreeque said...

Rather floored that Richards is in to books. Not the Stone I'd of pegged for that. Re-listen to "Time Waits for No One" sometime, and you'll hear what that NY Times piece meant sublime aching and melancholic guitar work.

How's that Vince Neil book selling?