If I gave you twenty guesses as to who used the phrase “twinkling felicitously,” would Keith Richards be in your top twenty? It was him, though, describing the chemistry between him and Ronnie Wood when Ronnie joined the band (the band being the Rolling Stones, for anyone who has recently arrived on this planet from elsewhere). Specifically, he’s referring to “Beast of Burden,” which is one of my all-time favorite Stones songs.
I just finished Keith’s book Life. The book was given to me as a gift back when it came out in November, and I read a few pages here and there over the past few months, but I didn’t fully get into it because I didn’t want to carry it around with me (it’s 500 pages in hardcover). But then I realized I’d never finish it at that pace, so I began bringing it around with me, and finished it in a matter of days. What a wonderful storytelling voice, what little linguistic gems, what good stories. Of course a lot is left out, and undoubtedly others have different perspectives on certain events, but no book is all things to all people; for those who are Stones fans, this is an absolutely great read.
You can listen to Keith’s intro on his site’s page for the book. Here are a few of some of the really memorable quotes:
“I imagined everything. I never thought it would happen.”
“It’s one of those astounding things about working in the theater. Backstage you can be a bunch of bums. And “Ladies and gentlemen” or “I present to you,” and you’re somebody else.”
“What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people’s hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you’re playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack.”
“Of the musicians I know personally…the two who had an attitude towards music that was the same as mine were Gram Parsons and John Lennon.”
“The grind is never the stage performance. I can play the same song again and again, year after year. When “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” comes up again it’s never a repetition, always a variation. Always. I would never play a song again once I thought it was dead. We couldn’t just churn it out. The real release is getting on stage. Once we’re up there doing it, it’s sheer fun and joy.”
I have more quotes over on Goodreads. The other great thing about this book is that you constantly have songs stuck in your head, but you’re happy they’re there, because they’re great songs like “Ruby Tuesday” and “Satisfaction” and “Gimme Shelter.” My next read might just have to be John Lennon: The Life, just to continue the trend. Though I imagine that includes bits about Yoko…
On a different topic, I noticed recently that “top searches” that brought people to this blog recently include “fork spoon toothpick balance” and “goat platforms,” which, actually, do refer to things I wrote about. Score one for search engines and natural language processing, I guess.
What I’ve been reading: Life, Keith Richards
What I’ve been listening to: Exile on Main Street, the Rolling Stones