What Would Keith Richards Do?



What Would Keith Richards Do?, by Jessica Pallington West – Prominently dubbed “Unauthorized” on the cover, this silly but fun book clearly doesn’t sit within Keith’s sense of humour itself, making it seem a bit of a paradox. While nearly half of the book is a collection of great quotes on topics such as “the Afterlife and Reincarnation”, “Aging and Longevity”, “Authority”, “Art”, “Fashion and style”, “Inner Demons”, “Inspirations and Influences”, etc, the rest of the book demonstrates the author scrounging around to describe situations and concepts that make Keith (and herself) look wise. This all demonstrates that she’s a great editor (and if there is any lingering doubt that she’s another Tony Sanchez, the six pages of thorough and comprehensive references is further testimony); but she’s not really a great writer, so the opening chapter “Keithism: the 26 10 commandments of Keith Richards” comes off as having a tremendous amount of filler and empty exposition (I also wonder why she can’t just say “the 26 commandments” and has to say “the 26 Ten Commandments” – maybe she’s not such a great editor after all).

Another chapter “What Would Keith Do” presents regular, day-to-day challenges and conjures up a Keith-ish response, using lessons from his life. “Keith And Nitzsche” sets about drawing parallels between Keith-thought and the ideas and quotes of Nitzsche and other famour philosophers, going from the Greeks to Mae West (it’s bit of a stretch). “Prophetwear: Urban Guru Fashion & Style” is an interesting, albeit silly chapter discussing Keith’s armour and personal talismans. “Everyting you always wanted to know…” is a fact file on Keith, most of which I knew (interesting fact – cheese is the only thing that Keith won’t put into his body. Cheese!!!) Then there’s a Keith timeline (interesting fact – he recorded an instrumental called “Scarlet” with Jimmy Page and Ian Stewart in 1973) that is an interesting chronicle of arrests, riots and battles with Mick Jagger (who he calls Brenda).

The best part of the book? The six-page bonus section of insults to various figures such as Chuck Berry, Jean-Luc Godard (“He’s a Frenchman. We can’t help them.”), Mick Taylor, Bianca Jagger, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, the Bee Gees, modern rock stars ilk the Arctic Monkeys, the punks of the seventies, George Michael, Boy George, Oasis, David Bowie, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine (not sure why they warrant comment), Nirvana, Bob Geldolf and Life Aid, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant and John Bonham, Ben Stiller (not sure why he warrants comment), Eric Clapton, Ray Davies and Bob Dylan.

Incidentally, I’ve not read any of the “What Would Jesus Do” type works, so I don’t really have a basis of comparison on that level, but I’d say that as far as objective fun and readability goes, the book is so-so overall. But however he’s presented, at the end of the day, Keith is still infinitely fascinating. In my reviews, I’m typically wont to quote extensively from the books I discuss; I can’t do that here, otherwise I’d be reproducing half of Chapter Five (Keith quotes), so you’ll just have to get this book for yourself – despite my misgivings about the weakness of the other chapters (at one point the author brings in a mention of the Brady Bunch… I really can’t see how she could commit such as crime, as that old TV show was about as un-Keith as it gets – clearly she’s learned nothing from her subject), it’s worth the price of the book on the strength of Chapter Five alone.

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