Wednesday, May 04, 2011
kids doobie relaxer
I am reading Keith Richards' autobiography, Life. Skipped his childhood, picked it up at the formation of The Rolling Stones, & probably close the book at "Start Me Up." Keith is unapologetic about his massive consumption of drugs. Why should he apologize? He doesn't recommend it, or consider himself a criminal for doing drugs. There were periods when they worked for him & periods when he regrets doing them. Heroin didn't destroy or nearly destroy a generation of American jazz musicians, but rather the criminalization of those musicians, or a personal self-destructiveness that was hardly dependent on smack when booze was legal & it was easy to get a doctor to prescribe addictive pharmaceuticals. What should have been sax great Art Pepper's best years were largely wasted either in jail or desperately existing at the fringes of society in a never-ending search for his next fix & the money to pay for it. If he had just been given his daily dose he would have gone on gigging as usual.
Keith tells most of the stories we want to hear (& have heard before), but he's at his best talking about music. Several times already he mentioned his surprise & delight that the musicians he idolized freely shared their "secrets" - their signature licks, riffs, tunings. It reminded me of a baseball All-Star game a few years back; before the game the peerless Yankee reliever, Mariano Rivera, was shown in the outfield surrounded by admiring younger pitchers, Mo obviously demonstrating to them the various grips he used to throw a "cutter, " a pitch that has shattered a thousand bats. Knowing how Mariano does it doesn't make you Mariano. Same goes for all the blues & country greats Keith has met & played with over his long career. The Stones have always been a what you see is what you get band. They said years ago, "It's only rock & roll," & meant it, & a lot of people still thought it was more. They haven't disguised their bullshit moments. Bullshit is one function of the blues.