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If all you know of Keith Richards is his media reputation as a stoner burn-out, you'll probably think that I'm out of my mind when I say that Richards would probably make a very effective life coach/self-help guru. It sounds insane until you read his interviews. A friend of mine kept copies of Keith's (mostly Rolling Stone magazine) interviews on his nightstand for about two years. He would read them before he went to bed each night and read them immediately again when he got up in the morning, to give him a boost. My friend, who is straight-as-an-arrow, was going through hard times for those two years, and he said that Keith's spirit and strength helped pull him through. If you've read Keith's interviews, you know what I'm talking about, that I'm not kidding around.
As for myself, I've read mostly the interviews that he's given to Rolling Stone magazine, which currently has a compilation of those interviews on the newsstands (the clerk who works at the magazine stand that I frequent says they're selling like hotcakes). I've always enjoyed reading these interviews, and they do show Keith to be a fascinating and even inspirational man, but I always thought that the Rolling Stone magazine interviewers (including Anthony DeCurtis and the great Kurt Loder) were always a bit too easy on him. Or even sometimes way too easy on him.
For example, since the early 80's, they've let Richards get away with proclaiming that he's a, quote, family man, unquote. But what kind of family man could he be? Attending school must be hell for his children, given Richards' public image. I couldn't begin to imagine what kind of trouble their classmates have given them. And what about his wife of 30 years-plus? The wife, and the kids, too, for that matter, have had to actually live with this stoner/boozer/chain-smoker. Could you imagine that...? But Rolling Stone magazine lets Richards get away with this "I'm a dedicated family man" jazz.
My second major problem is with Keith's treatment of Mick Jagger in his interviews.
For example, Richards is still complaining, to this day, about how resistant Jagger was to turning his fair share of Rolling Stone business matters over to him after he had been out of it for approximately 10 years (just about the entire 1970's). Richards goes off on a 10-year drug binge and then (supposedly) cleans up and comes back and tells Jagger he's ready to assume more of the business responsibilities, and when Jagger is resistant to it Richards gets pissed off? What Richards should be doing is expressing his eternal gratefulness to Jagger for holding down the damn fort and busting his behind for 10 years while he was off on a 10-year high. Jagger is clearly the hero in that story, but Richards tries to spin it otherwise.
Another problem I have with his treatment of Jagger is his constant harping on Jagger's shortcomings and expressing his disappointment over, what he perceives to be, Jagger's chronic loneliness ("He's my mate and I want him to be happy!"). Two things here, Keith. Number one, where do you get off pointing out Jagger's relatively minor shortcomings when you've been addicted to booze and heroin and cocaine and four packs of cigarettes a day? You've got to be kidding. And who are you to express sorrow over Jagger's loneliness? If you're so damn happy and un-lonely, why are you constantly indulging in all of these vices?
At any rate, I really dig the interviews, but I've always felt the need to vent my frustration in regard to the above matters.
I've also felt the need to take a bit of the onus off of Jagger. In the past, when Jagger has been confronted by the press in regard to these mutterings coming from Richards, he has usually responded, "I don't want to argue." So much of the time (but certainly not all of the time), Jagger has come off as the mature one of the two, without getting any credit for it.
Even with all of the problems I've had with these things expressed above, I strongly recommend these interviews. I wouldn't miss them for anything.