Rock Memoirs and Keith Richards’ Life

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

By M. Milam

Memoirville recommends… a short piece on The Millions about the “Rock Memoir,” its downfalls, and more specifically, Keith Richards’ new memoir, Life, co-written with James Fox.

Jim Santel argues that, with the exception of Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, the memoirs of figures in rock and roll inevitably fall flat, more often giving the reader detailed accounts of drug binges and lists of sexual encounters rather than any sort of insight into the artists’ lives and personalities. He notes that it’s not only the musicians who cannot write about rock and roll, but accomplished writers, as well. Santel writes, “If something essential about rock music eludes capture by writers as fine as the ones I’ve listed [Greil Marcus, Stanley Booth, and Nick Tosches], it positively dissipates when the musicians themselves try to explain it.” Nonetheless, Richards’ memoir, written with Fox, will surely provide Stones fans with insider details into the intimate life of Richards and those close to him—even if the writing doesn’t exactly rock.

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