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Brief reflections on Life (Keith Richards’, not mine)

To be honest, I was surprised at the length of Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life. And, all in all, it is far from an insipid celebrity memoir. To the contrary, it provides interesting insight into the guitarist’s life and some of the exaggerated tales of his life. It does ramble a bit but there’s far more detail than I would have expected and is worth reading if for no other reason than his insights into music..

One thing, though, struck me perhaps more than almost any other celebrity/music memoir I’ve read: how abnormal a life becomes when most of it is spent in the spotlight.

It’s something I’ve wondered about in connection with the occasional goofy question about the five people you would invite to dinner if you had the chance. Although names like Dylan and Springsteen come to my mind, I’ve wondered if the years of attention, adulation and being surrounded by an entourage means they can’t really relate to people who lead a “normal” life. Certainly they can discuss politics, music or the weather with anyone that doesn’t fill our discussions with our friends and acquaintances. I can’t help but think, though, that Nor do we have plenty of we may encounter.

I don’t know about Dylan or Springsteen but there’s no doubt Richards has little in common with most of his fans. In fact, he freely describes an often self-indulgent and libertine lifestyle. Life treats his excesses as what they became for him — run of the mill. Of course, it helps to have plenty of fixers available to resolve or ease the problems they caused. And sure, some parents might be on the road for work when their infant child dies. But how many of them have no clue where or if the child is buried?

I’m not knocking Keith Richards. It would be impossible not to be affected when two-thirds of your life or more is spent living in the spotlight and with the lifestyle, temptations and opportunities success afforded him. As the book details Richards’ life after The Rolling Stones were on the road to stardom, there is little doubt that the benefits include a life of privilege with which the average person could never identify. To believe those privileges don’t permanently color a person’s attitudes and persona is to ignore reality.


By law you have to be conscious to be arrested.

Keith Richards, Life

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