My copy of Life just arrived, and while it made me doubly sad to have missed NYPL's recent evening with Keith Richards, the book more than lived up to its excellent reviews and all the prepublication hype. Any fan of rock music or great biography (and those of us who love both) should find something to delight in here.
As Keith's adventures and exploits spill across the pages, you're struck by two things: his infectious enthusiasm for creating music, and just how much influence Keith had in creating a shared cultural idea of what a rock star is. Keith's humor and insight are all over this book, letting fans get closer than ever to knowing what it's like to be a Rolling Stone: the pleasures of creativity, success, and a life lived on one's own terms, as well as the pressures of celebrity, notoriety, and carrying your own legend around.
One book only whetted my curiosity for all things Stones this fall, and I was pleased to find some other great sources at NYPL. I enjoyed Bill German's unique account of life in the shadow of the Stones, Under Their Thumb. As a Brooklyn teenager, German created a Stones fanzine that eventually became the group's official fan club newsletter. He traveled the world with the band, ate bananas in Ron Wood's kitchen, got tough yet insightful life advice from Keith, and learned the hard way that not all backstage passes are created equal.
The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones has as much to say about the death of 1960s optimism as it does about the band, and is so beautifully written I immediately went to request the author's other books. Perfect reading to spread out over a few long winter nights at home, perhaps with one of these playing in the background:
Let it Bleed
Exile on Main Street