Life by Keith Richards with James Fox (Little, Brown and Company 2010), is a fascinating read.  We all know about “Keef’s” excesses over the years, but what really shows in this book is his incredible love of music.  To Richards, music is what fuels him, and when he talks about it his prose changes from esoteric “Keefisms” to clear insightful explanations of his craft.  Whether he’s talking about his guitar style or his songwriting process it’s those moments that make Life shine.

Unfortunately, a lot of the advanced press on the book focused on his jabs at Mick Jagger, and while there are definitely jabs (he claims Jagger suffers from LVS.  Lead Vocalist Syndrome”), he also describes Jagger as his brother and is quick to point out his talents as a front man, songwriter and business man.   Where the two seem to differ though is over how important it is to remain loyal to the basic blues-based rock n’ roll that is the foundation of the Stones’ sound.  Richards clearly feels Jagger’s solo forays into pop and dance music were not a a sound move (pun intended), and an even worse betrayal was Jagger’s need to distance himself from the Rolling Stones while doing it.  Why distance yourself from the Rolling Stones when the Stones were and are as relevant as ever.   Sure Richard’s tunnel vision (or narcissism) doesn’t take into account whether his years as a junkie may have distanced Jagger from the Stones at the time, but whether you agree with him or not, you can’t help but marvel at how passionate this man is about a band he’s been a part of for almost 50 years.

To Keith Richards, the Stones and their music are his life, and what a life it is.

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