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What Would Keith Richards Do?: Daily Affirmations from a Rock and Roll Survivor Hardcover – April 28, 2009
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About the Author
Jessica Pallington West is the author of Lipstick. Her writing has been featured in the Daily Telegraph, BBC-TV and BBC-Radio, and About.com. She is a die-hard Stones fan.
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Self-help gurus like Dr Phil advise ways to avoid creating problems for yourself, while Keith Richards takes a different tack. His philosophy: -- You're going to mess up. Deal with it. -- Of course, Keith Richards wouldn't say 'mess' up, but I need to express these things in a way that is true to my nature.
As the title suggests, this book is organized around an advice and example theme. It offers insights in an entertaining style, but it's better if you don't try to consume it in one big gulp. You'll run into repetition, some key events are recalled using the exact same words. The repetition was most obvious in Chapter Five: The Wit and Wisdom of Keith Richards. Not only does it repeat some things that were mentioned earlier, it even repeats the same item or event under different topics within the chapter.
But there's certainly plenty of new material for those of us who didn't know anything about Keith Richard beyond his reputation as a poster boy for dissipation. As the author and compiler, Jessica Pallington West, is more of a devoted fan than an objective observer. That's not always a bad thing. She pays attention to things that the more objective observer might overlook. If she stretches to make a point, she still makes connections to larger things in life.
Not that making music really requires any further justification for the time spent taking the ride. What Would Keith Richards Do? provides insights and answers about what Keith Richards has done, and relates experiences we can adapt to the questions in our own lives.
Another chapter "What Would Keith Do" presents regular, day-to-day challenges and conjures up a Keith-ish response, using lessons from his life. "Keith And Nitzsche" sets about drawing parallels between Keith-thought and the ideas and quotes of Nitzsche and other famour philosophers, going from the Greeks to Mae West (it's bit of a stretch). "Prophetwear: Urban Guru Fashion & Style" is an interesting, albeit silly chapter discussing Keith's armour and personal talismans. "Everyting you always wanted to know..." is a fact file on Keith, most of which I knew (interesting fact - cheese is the only thing that Keith won't put into his body. Cheese!!!) Then there's a Keith timeline (interesting fact - he recorded an instrumental called "Scarlet" with Jimmy Page and Ian Stewart in 1973) that is an interesting chronicle of arrests, riots and battles with Mick Jagger (who he calls Brenda).
The best part of the book? The six-page bonus section of insults to various figures such as Chuck Berry, Jean-Luc Godard ("He's a Frenchman. We can't help them."), Mick Taylor, Bianca Jagger, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, the Bee Gees, modern rock stars ilk the Arctic Monkeys, the punks of the seventies, George Michael, Boy George, Oasis, David Bowie, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine (not sure why they warrant comment), Nirvana, Bob Geldolf and Life Aid, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant and John Bonham, Ben Stiller (not sure why he warrants comment), Eric Clapton, Ray Davies and Bob Dylan.
Incidentally, I've not read any of the "What Would Jesus Do" type works, so I don't really have a basis of comparison on that level, but I'd say that as far as objective fun and readability goes, the book is so-so overall. But however he's presented, at the end of the day, Keith is still infinitely fascinating. In my reviews, I'm typically wont to quote extensively from the books I discuss; I can't do that here, otherwise I'd be reproducing half of Chapter Five (Keith quotes), so you'll just have to get this book for yourself - despite my misgivings about the weakness of the other chapters (at one point the author brings in a mention of the Brady Bunch... I really can't see how she could commit such as crime, as that old TV show was about as un-Keith as it gets - clearly she's learned nothing from her subject), it's worth the price of the book on the strength of Chapter Five alone.