For a certain kind of person (that means you, Dan C.), a straight hour of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards expounding on the rock n’ roll life is about as close to heaven as one can get without magically transforming into Richards’ favorite guitar. Here is the 66-year old legend being interviewed at the New York Public Library, following the publication of his critically-acclaimed memoir Life, which no less severe a judge than Michiko Kakutani called “electrifying.”
In the interview, Richards comes off as witty, articulate, and especially eloquent when speaking about his passion for American blues, but one of the most charming early moments comes thanks to his interlocutor, Anthony DeCurtis. DeCurtis is something of a rock star in his own field, but he fights a losing battle with his natural fandom for the first 15 minutes of the conversation, then finally starts to implode at about the 22:2o mark. His mini-meltdown is immediately followed by Richards’ hilarious riff on the Stones’ early Beatles-envy, and it all just gets better from there, culminating in the expected wild applause at the end of the hour.
A footnote: Richards’ collaborator on Life is the respected British journalist named James Fox. Fox spent five years working with the guitarist, or rather, chasing him from continent to continent, recording hundreds of hours of their conversations, and then shaping those hours into a book that is not merely coherent or interesting but genuinely literary. He deserves a round of applause as well.
A second footnote note: The New York Public Library is currently facing steep budget cuts and may have to slash its hours. You can donate here.
Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly