In Praise of Heroin and Keith Richards

Written by | May 5, 2011 0:09 am | No Comments


I have been working my way through Keith Richards 'memoir "Life" and while the first chapter was a bitch and the early years growing up in London a bore, when it comes to the music, it can take off.
It doesn't sound like Richards for the most part but occasionally you can imagine him saying, if not these exact words, certainly some variation. One of these days I will finish it and knock off a review.
Till then, I was very impressed by his writing about being an heroin addict.
I've tried heroin three times and I didn't like it. It is something of an acquired taste. So why would people acquire a taste for something that stands an excellent chance of killing you? Because it centers your concentration, it helps you take on and complete projects, it dissolves time. Richards was heavily invested in smack when he lived in the South Of France recording Exile On Mainstreet. The Stones recorded it in his basement and along with the band, there were worlds of drug pushers, girls, European trash and assorted hangers on at his estate Nellecort. It didn't faze Richards because the drugs kept him focused. He would work for days on end (undoubtedly on speed balls) and had the purest heroin and therefore could be very careful while applying it.
The reason why this is fascinating is because it is a terrible idea to not admit that what is great is great. Heroin is great -so is smoking, so is alcohol, and they can all kill you. Junk even knocked off a professional junkie like Johnny Thunders.
As many a rock star and hanger on discovered, heroin won't make you Keith Richards. But as Keith Richards discovered, if you are Keith Richards it would make you even more Keith Richards: you became a musical lazer where days and weeks were taken over with creation.
I haven't mentioned the DTs -quitting heroin can also kill you, and Richards doesn't shy from the horror. But to spend 5, 6, 7 days straight writing and recording a rock masterpiece  fueled by heroin? If death is the price, so be it.


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