Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Reading Stone!

The following is true.

It does not amount to news or entertainment which keeps it in the safe zone, i.e., it is not a blatant violation of The Van Winkle Project. What I'm about to reveal has been a fact for a good long while, although it's either gone unobserved or not often remarked upon.

That makes this piece of information akin to "history." It's something I found in a 1995 book that perhaps you might be interested in knowing about, especially, if like me, you are somewhat fixated on writing and good books and rock 'n' roll.

Here's the book...

Next item. Do you recognize this face?

With its deep canyons tracing out the evidence of a cigarette and drug fueled life lived at mach speed, one might say this is every rock 'n' roll guitarist's poster child. Any bad boy Van Halen or Slash or Flea who ever put his fingers on the frets has had to measure himself against this gold standard of decadence and pure riff generating genius.

Of course, we're talking about Mr. Jumping Jack Flash himself, Rolling Stone Keith Richards.

But did you know something else? This is the face of a reader of books.

Keith Richards has long been a bibliophile. He may have turned the pages of lots of women in his nearly seventy years of life, but he's loved many more books.

You see, Mr. Richards collects books. He's built libraries to house his collection. Most importantly, he enjoys spending hours in...reading.

And perhaps you thought I was going to say "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll"?

Give Him Shelter and a Good Book
As I was perusing my recently acquired used copy of the above-mentioned lavish coffee table book, I found inspiring information about how to create and maintain one's own collection of cherished books. There were also profiles of individuals who had made a library a part of their lifestyle.

This was where Keith Richards entered with five strings and an "open book" tuning.

Sure his home library is messy, but he is a Rolling Stone...

Of course, as a man of wealth and taste, Richards has lavish homes around the world. However, his home in Connecticut, where he spends a short while each year, is different. He had a octagonal room built just to house his books.

Keith's collection includes some leatherbound classics his wife gave him, books on art, and his favorite subject, military strategy and history.

According to Keith the screaming adulation directed the band's way whenever they're on stage gives him pause. He tries to understand it through his reading:

   "I'm interested in how people can fall for dictators, and in the origins
   of the mass psychosis they provoke. That's what I do for a living,
   after all. Time to go to the office--go out in front of hordes of
   howling people!...You become part of the mass hysteria.
   You forget yourself in the moment. Is that what Hitler experienced?"

Honky Tonk Books
According to Keith, it's not so surprising, that someone in his business would sustain a life of reading. He points to all the boring travel and the hours cooped up in a hotel room before playing a show. It's perfect for passing the time with a good book.

My favorite quote by Keith: "One must always handle a book with respect. I never read one with sticky fingers."

No, wait. I made that up. But the rest? It's true and you can check it out. See here. - V.W.


No comments:

Post a Comment