Keef vs. Lisbeth

Am I the only one who found the excerpt of the Keith Richards book in "Rolling Stone" unreadable?

Have you ever seen such a scorched earth publicity campaign?  The mainstream media is fawning over this like Keef knows the location of Bin Laden, when all we really get is he did drugs and is pissed at Mick Jagger.  Who doesn’t know that?  Do they really expect casual Stones fans to pick up this book?  No, this is for the hard core.  And how big is that core?  How many people want to hear the ancient exploits of a soon to be septuagenarian?  It would be one thing if he’d written the book in the seventies, but to hear these stories now is like watching another video of the Jets’ triumph over the Colts in Super Bowl III.  We get it, the AFL was underrated.  NEXT!

Then again, people still care about football.  Music?  Not as much.  Or should we say we don’t have culture unifying bands that we follow from year to year.  And if you think GaGa impacts the culture I’m waiting for the explanation.  What did she do other than wear a zillion outfits and preach that she was beholden to her Little Monsters?  Did the music really say anything?

Or should I say I can’t get no satisfaction?

But I got tons of satisfaction reading the Millennium Trilogy, which got a fraction of the hype of Richards’ book but built via word of mouth.

In other words, six months from now will anybody really give a shit about Keef’s tome?


It will be forgotten.  Like every other rock biography.  Hell, there was a definitive baseball book, Jim Bouton’s "Ball Four", but has there ever been a definitive rock autobiography?  Or is it that artists speak through their music and the written word is superfluous, done better by people who write for a living as opposed to those given cash by money-hungry publishers who stick them with a cowriter to reveal an inside truth that is usually told with one hand behind the back and ultimately leaves one as unsatisfied as after a one night stand.  Really, reading these rock books is like being in the arena after the lights have gone up and everybody’s left.  And if you’ve ever been in a venue when this occurs you know the creepy feeling.

Now if everybody involved just wants to make a quick buck, and the media covered the story that way, maybe I’d give these highly-hyped books a pass.  But they make them seem so important, tablets handed down from the mountaintop. We want something great, not high concept.  Hell, the movies were ruined by high concept.

You see that’s all there is.  Concept.  Who wouldn’t want to read the tale of the world’s number one vampire from the world’s greatest rock and roll band?  Well, shouldn’t the first criterion of a book be that it’s well-written?

Kind of like all star musical projects.  The credits are stellar, the music slides right off of you.

We’re in a completely new era.  Don’t be distracted by the endless hype for Keef’s book.  That’s just the death throes of baby boomer mainstream media pissed that it no longer has control of the public’s hearts and minds.

We’re bombarded with information 24/7.  We even take our screens with us.  If you can even get us to pay attention to your message, don’t think it’s gonna stick with us.  Life is one big wreck on the freeway.  You rubberneck and then drive on, instantly forgetting what you’ve seen.

If you want to triumph in the new world, you’ve got to have sticking power.

You’ve got to be good.

You’ve got to continue to satiate fans.

You’ve got to know it’s about igniting word of mouth, and you can’t do that via a publicity campaign manufactured and masterminded by a high-priced publicist working his old school relationships.

No one owns consumer relationships anymore.  Each and every one of us has his own Web of contacts.  Did you see that Facebook has a new feature where you can create subgroups?  You don’t want to be burdened with the information from everybody who’s your friend, just your close buddies.  Do you expect us to pay attention to the blowhards in the mainstream who feel entitled to their perch and speak down to us?

These know-it-alls know nothing.

They call it Inside The Beltway Syndrome in politics.  The people in D.C. are out of touch.  And the media just loves a horse race.  It’s not interesting if a race isn’t close.

But there’s no race in art.  Just crap and excellence.  We haven’t even got time for mediocre.

I couldn’t stop reading "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo".  I had a friend mail me a copy of the third book from the U.K. before it was available here.  And whenever I’d run into somebody reading the green-jacketed novel I’d speak with them, we were buddies, like the fans of the Stones who saw them back in ’69 and ’72, never mind earlier, before it became more about money than music.

I don’t care if you read Keef’s book and enjoy it.  That’s not the point.  The point is Keef’s book just doesn’t matter, just doesn’t count.  It’s not going to infect the populace, it’s not going to stir up debate, it’s not going to have a shelf-life, it’s a marketing exercise.

Whereas great art is never about marketing.  Sure, there’s a concept, oftentimes formed in a moment of brilliant insight, but execution is key.  Otherwise, it’s just facts, just news.  Imagine if your conversation was limited to that, if your friends couldn’t embellish, couldn’t add nuance to their stories.  It’s how you tell your story that’s important.

It’s not important that you wear skinny jeans and look good.  It’s all about your message.  And how you deliver it.

Concentrate on getting it right.  If you do, word will spread, because so few people get it right.  People are looking for greatness 24/7, but almost never find it.  When they do, they tell everybody they know about it, not because they’re being paid, but because it’s one of the thrills of life, turning another human being on to something inspiring, oftentimes life-changing.

I’d be more interested in Keef’s book if Tom Wolfe or the dearly departed David Foster Wallace reported their conversations with him, unfiltered.  That’d be interesting, a great writer giving his insight.  But to read endless pages of strung together facts…

Hell, Keef could have at least employed J.R. Moehringer, who did such a good job with Andre Agassi’s book, since he’d written his own great work "Tender Bar".

But still…  Who will care about Agassi’s book five years from now?  ONE YEAR FROM NOW!  What we love most is fiction, written by people locked up in a room forever, alone, working to get it right.  Just like we want to see musicians on stage who’ve sweated for years, worked on their craft to get their performance right.

And aren’t you always most enamored of bands you discover via your friends?

To quote the unfortunately deceased Jim Carroll, I’m just a constant warning to take the other direction.  Everybody hyping this Keith Richards book was afraid to go to a Rolling Stones show when the band was still scary and edgy and alive.  They’ve come to the party too late.  Why does their opinion matter?

I’m gonna clue you in…  Only your opinion matters.  And only people you know respect your opinion.  You’re unhypeable.  Thank fucking God.

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