Showing posts with label Keith Richards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Keith Richards. Show all posts

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Rolling Stones Discover America by Michael Lydon

Buy The Rolling Stones Discover America (Kindle Single)

True story: when it was announced that The Rolling Stones planned to bring the Steel Wheels tour to my home town, I drew the short straw to get tickets. Now, this happened way before the Internet and refreshing Web pages on LiveNation to get good seats. I had to drive to Turtles Records and Tapes about an hour before the sale began and pluck a strip of paper from a hat as part of the "lottery" system. There were rules, too: you entered the store when your number was called, and you took the tickets they gave you. Fine. We all thought this was the Last. Stones. Tour. Ever. I'd play ball.

As my number is called and I'm walking toward the store, this guy stops me. Would I buy three more tickets for him and his friends. A store clerk sees this and says, "Do you know him? You can only buy your tickets. No cuts." You have to understand I was a good Catholic teenager who couldn't deceive anybody. Catch me in crosshairs and I start blubbering. At the same time, I'm thinking this stranger is about to screw up my only chance to see the Stones. My memory is blurry, but somehow I managed to get past the checkpoint and buy six tickets. The show sold out in about a week. We sat in the boonies and loved it, because we thought these guys were winding down and would, contrary to a song they covered, fade away.

That was 1989.

As I'm reading The Rolling Stones Discover America, I experience a touch of deja vu, even though this Kindle single recounts an earlier tour of America. After a long hiatus from the road, the band has decided to resume live shows, and the reaction is similar to the Steel Wheels frenzy. I imagine many fans scrambling to see the 1970 tour figured it was a brief gift before an eternal exile to the studio, a la The Beatles. Rock journalist Lydon covers the journey in Discover, a longish essay that paints vivid pictures of the people and places along this journey. It reads like a series from Rolling Stone Magazine, too, which makes sense as Lydon was a founding editor.

The further you read into Discover, you may think the real story lies in the periphery of the band - the fans, the media, the family, and the gofers and manager who orbit the group. Names are dropped, and some snippits of conversation provide amusement - like when Keith Richards predicts nobody in the band will get an MBE like John Lennon (no, but Mick would be knighted). You'll read a line about Janis Joplin and Tina Turner hanging out after a show and wish for more details. When you first get into the chapter on Altamont, you get the impression people sensed the show was doomed. And just as quickly as the action happened there, so it is as quickly retold.

This is a quick read, not necessarily about The Rolling Stones but the climate in which they existed - a time in music where bands and listeners straddled the fine line between mop-top innocence and free-love hippiedom. It is a prelude to future explosions - civil rights movements, Vietnam, etc. It's certainly not meant to be a definitive story on the Stones, but it makes an interesting chapter in their careers worth reading.

Rating: B

Kathryn Lively is a mystery author and book blogger.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Mick Jagger by Christopher Andersen

When I picked up my copy of Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Mick Jagger, I'd forgotten that I had read a previous work by the author. Christopher Andersen has made quite a living with biographies of political figures and select celebrities. This, in fact, is not his first book about Jagger, and since I have not read Jagger Unauthorized I cannot reveal whether or not Mick is a dressed-up revision of the former. I'm willing to bet not - though as I read the Goodreads summary of the previous book it pretty much details everything I have read in Mick. The only difference is that Mick continues Jagger's story through the new century.

It's amazing, too, that we're still talking about Mick and the Stones fifty years following their debut. Jagger remains relevant in song and pop culture - he recently hosted a season finale of Saturday Night Live, his name is practically synonymous with confident swagger, and the band plans to tour in 2013. I still have my stub from the Steel Wheels tour in 1989 - I'd thought that would be my last chance to see them live. Good thing I didn't bet money on that belief.

Back to the book. I finished this over a weekend. Where Mick is short on words (it's a good 200+ pages shorter than Keith Richards's Life, which I will read one day), it definitely makes up for the many instances of glossing over his young life by piling on the gossip. I would imagine, even if you don't follow the Stones religiously, you're aware of Jagger's reputation with the ladies. Here, you get names - lots of names. In fact, one could probably summarize this book as comprising:
  • The history of Mick Jagger's sex life.
  • The history of Mick Jagger's narcissism.
If you have followed Jagger's personal life and career, I doubt you'll find anything here to surprise you. As a moderate fan (one concert and ownership of a greatest hits compilation) nothing in this book shocked me. I'd heard the stories of bisexual romps and Jerry Hall's never-ending pursuit of a ring and a date, and while it appears Andersen attempted to arouse curiosity through a blind item about a tryst with two Shindig! regulars a trip to Wikipedia solved that mystery. This led me to question how well this book had been researched - among events presented as fact included the legendary Mars Bar incident of '67, which and others have refuted.

Readers are called upon here to merely accept many things happened - Mick slept with this woman, punched that photographer, then slept with that woman. Andersen's simple style actually left me bored as I read, which baffled me. Jagger hardly seems the boring type. Of course, I did find it a challenge to sympathize with him through chapters detailing his lack of parenting skills, and loyalty toward friends who didn't want Jagger messing around with their women. 

Philip Norman, whose bio of John Lennon I have read, publishes his Jagger bio in October. It will be interesting to read this take in comparison to Andersen's to see if there is more to this man.

Rating: D

Kathryn Lively is a mystery author and book blogger.