Keef & Things

I’ve been writing every day, polishing Luke’s #1 Rule to a glossy shine. Not that I think I’m going to hear anything soon about it or the other manuscript I’ve got in submission. Still, I keep writing because it’s the way I ease myself into the day. I once said Luke’s #1 Rule was the book that wrote itself, and while it isn’t perfect, the faults and fixes are obvious and relatively easy, too.

Then there’s school. Despite my scroogy post last week, I’ve got a good group of students this term. And I’ve loved teaching elective lit courses instead of required composition. However, I am stoked about my sabbatical which starts next week and goes until at least May 2011.

And last but not least, when I get a free moment, I’ve been reading Life by Keith (his friends call him Keef) Richards. I recently finished Clapton and I gotta say the two books, by two great guitar players who led similar lives (rock star) at the same time (60s London) and had the same addictions (heroin & alcohol), treasures (country mansions), and pleasures (blues music by black Americans), the books are really different.

I liked them both for their own reasons. Clapton describes the scene in London in the 60s, just the sheer numbers of rock and roll bands who started up and played together and supported each other and gigged together–from Hendrix to the Beatles–that was really fun, to see Clapton become a part of that.

Both Keef and Eric worked hard at the guitar, but Keef goes a bit more in depth about how he developed his songs (Mick wrote lyrics, Keef wrote the music and came up with the original spark, often the title or first line). Keef gets really technical about open chords and early recording methods and acoustic vs. electric. I played guitar ten years so I find it fascinating but I think anybody who isn’t a guitar player would be a bit lost, frankly.

What I love most about Life is its sound. A friend asked me if I thought KR used a ghost writer. Really, I don’t. He includes letters he wrote to relatives early on (in one he says “I met this guy named Mick Jagger…”) and the voice and tone has the same irreverent irony as the rest of the book.  

*Note added 12/14: At the end of the book, in “About the Authors” a guy named James Fox is mentioned. I didn’t see his name on the cover, and I am reading a Kindle edition, which typically takes you to the first page of the first chapter. Now that I searched through the opening pages, it does say on the inside cover page in tiny letters “With James Fox.” Turns out Fox interviewed Richards extensively and then wrote the book. He maintained the flavor of KR’s voice IMO. 

And also, there’s the holidays. Mine are great so far and hope yours are too.


  1. You’re an amazing, well-versed reader. Love the rock ‘n’ roll biographies you mentioned, and especially want to read Keith Richards’ because I love, love the Rolling Stones. Thanks for the tips, as always, Cindy! Hope your holidays go well.


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