Thursday, 14 April 2011

Keith Richards, "Life," Heaven, Hell, Rock and Roll


I read a lot of "holy" books. This isn't one of them. It is matter-of-fact account of a world of sex, drugs and rock and roll told by one of its iconic practitioners. Vulgar, is a word that comes to mind, but "honest" is another one. Richards makes no attempt to paint himself in rosey tones.

I admire Richards' guitar playing. There's a spareness and punch to it which few can match. I was fascinated to read about his now trademark custom five string guitars tuned to an open G chord.

Richards is married to Patti, who he tells us, comes from a devout Lutheran family. He describes some discussions with his Christian brothers in law and shares this fascinating take on heaven and hell:
I've never found heaven, for example, a particularly interesting place to go. In fact, I take the view that God, in his infinite wisdom, didn't bother to spring for two joints—heaven and hell. They're the same place, but heaven is when you get everything you want and you meet Mummy and Daddy and your best friends and you all have a hug and kiss and play your harps. Hell is the same place—no fire and brimstone—but they just all pass by and don't see you. There's nothing, no recognition. You're waving, "It's me, your father," but you're invisible. You're on a cloud, you've got your harp, but you can't play with nobody because they don't see you. That's hell. 
Not exactly scriptural, but I've heard scriptural people describe hell in ways that are not all that different.

Richards and Jagger are not far off with their portrait of Satan, either:

   Please allow me to introduce myself
   I'm a man of wealth and taste
   I've been around for a long, long year
   Stole many a man's soul and faith
   And I was round when Jesus Christ
   Had his moment of doubt and pain
   Made damn sure that Pilate
   Washed his hands and sealed his fate


   Pleased to meet you
   Hope you guess my name
   But what's puzzling you
   Is the nature of my game

Pretty close to the truth.

My dear family enabled me to see and hear The Stones live in Regina a few years ago. I blogged my thoughts on the experience here.