Monday, January 17, 2011

Review - Life by Keith Richards (audiobook)

"There's something beautifully friendly and elevating about a bunch of guys playing music together. This wonderful little world that is unassailable. It's really teamwork, one guy supporting the others, and it's all for one purpose, and there's no flies in the ointment, for a while. And nobody conducting, it's all up to you. It's really jazz__that's the big secret. Rock and roll ain't nothing but jazz with a hard backbeat." - Keith Richards

Life [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

TITLE:     Life
AUTHOR:    Keith Richards
INFO:    Audiobook, Non-Fiction/Biography, 20 cds
PUBLISHED:   Hachette Audio, 2010
ISBN#:   978-1-60024-240-3
HOW I GOT IT:   Received from Hachette Audio for Review

FROM GOODREADS:  As lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the riffs, the lyrics, and the songs that roused the world. A true and towering original, he has always walked his own path, spoken his mind, and done things his own way. Now at last Richards pauses to tell his story in the most anticipated autobiography in decades. And what a story! Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records in a coldwater flat with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, building a sound and a band out of music they loved. Finding fame and success as a bad-boy band, only to find themselves challenged by authorities everywhere. Dropping his guitar's sixth string to create a new sound that allowed him to create immortal riffs like those in "Honky Tonk Woman" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Falling in love with Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones's girlfriend. Arrested and imprisoned for drug possession. Tax exile in France and recording Exile on Main Street. Ever-increasing fame, isolation, and addiction making life an ever faster frenzy. Through it all, Richards remained devoted to the music of the band, until even that was challenged by Mick Jagger's attempt at a solo career, leading to a decade of conflicts and ultimately the biggest reunion tour in history.  In a voice that is uniquely and unmistakably him--part growl, part laugh--Keith Richards brings us the truest rock-and-roll life of our times, unfettered and fearless and true.

MY TAKE:  I've always been a major music lover and the Rolling Stones have always been represented in my albums, cassettes, cds, and now mp3s. (Yes, I'm admitting I'm old.)  I usually don't read or listen to biographies, especially autobiographies.  This one appealed to me though because Keith Richards is such a fascinating character.  I immediately think of the scratchy voiced, somewhat scary drugged out rock and roll genius who made music that will stay relevant for decades to come.  Anyone who grew up in the 60s thru the 90s knows who he is because of the music and heavily publicized bad behaviour.  The much younger set can also now say that he's Captain Jack Sparrow's father, Captain Teague in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. 

That leads to the point that the narration for this lengthy 20 cd audiobook is provided by none other than Captain Jack himself, Johnny Depp.  Rocker, balladeer, actor Joe Hurley also does some of the reading with his lovely Irish(y) gravelled voice.  Their vocals along with the immediately recognizable tones of Mr. Richards give a fantastic feeling to this very in-depth telling of the LIFE and times of this rock and roll legend.

I was really amazed and rather pleased that this wasn't a glossed over version of "The Keef's" life as he saw it.  He shares the nitty gritty details and incidents that he probably should have forgotten as well as some of the better times.  He doesn't pull any punches and pretty much lets it all hang out - the good and the bad about himself and others involved.  Controversy and drama could have completely done in this man and the band.  But most of them eventually acknowledged the fact that the music was what mattered to them and was what it all came down to.  Hearing some of the intimate details of this very public man made for an outstanding look into what celebrity can do to a person and those around him.  

This is an extremely personal look into the life of a man who has lived.  It may not be a life that most of us would choose or be proud of, but he has lived it to the fullest and is courageously sharing it with the world.  I highly recommend this audiobook to fans of the Stones, music-lovers, the curious, and just about any (adult) that enjoys a really good story - that just happens to be true.  (I plan to get the hardcover version of this book too, but I want to note that it was a brilliant move to get Johnny Depp and Joe Hurley - they made the audiobook version for me.)

Out of 5 JEWELS, I give it:

WHERE TO BUY IT:    Amazon, The Book Depository, Powell's Books

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~~~~~ Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.  I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links.  I may receive books in  order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one.  Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.


  1. Wow. If Mr. Depp is narrating, them I'm there. I bet that this is a fascinating listen. Thanks for the review--I never would have thought of listing to this book.

  2. I am currently listening to this audiobook and YES, Johnny Depp is so good! I am really enjoying Keith's insights.

  3. Depp did do a good job narrating, but Joe Hurley adds a different, unique twist to the narration. His music is pretty awesome too, check it out !


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