Tag Archives: Old Habits Die Hard

Keith Richards’ “Life”

I just finished reading Keith Richards’ memoir, Life.  All of the fabled stories are there – the drug busts, the flair-ups with Mick, taking Anita Pallenberg from Brian Jones.  And when Richards can’t quite remember the details he has guests come in and fill in the details.  When I first heard that Richards was calling his book Life, I wondered if he should come up with a better title.  While Life portrays an extraordinary life – it’s also  hilarious, heartbreaking, and honest.  Basically, life in general.

Of course Richards, being Richards he’s unapologetic for most things.  He finds it hilarious that he was on the most likely die list for 10 years.  And when it comes to heroin he suggests he never over-dosed because he wasn’t greedy – he only got enough to get him high.  Take those comments as you will.  But if you go into Life thinking this is all you’re getting than it’s your loss – Richards dedication to his craft shines through every heroin and alcohol-fueled moment. Rarely has such enthusiasm for simply playing music come through in a book.

Many musicians have suggested that being in a band is like being in a gang – you can’t leave unless you die.  Richards takes this view to heart – Mick Taylor never fit in because he left.  And Richards’ fights with Mick Jagger are famous at this point.  In Richards’ world you can fuck each other girlfriends, but don’t ever abandon your post.  That’s the ultimate betrayal.  Richards is pretty vicious towards Jagger throughout Life.  Some journalists and rock critics have wondered whether The Rolling Stones will tour after Life’s publication.  I’m willing to bet yes – because I’m willing all of the criticisms and jabs aren’t anything new to Jagger.  And Richards has probably said worse to him in his face.

Which brings me to my point about the love of simply playing.  The core of The Rolling Stones love their craft, and believe in their songs and what they have to offer the public.  Sure, sometimes it can sometimes be over the top.  They’re not the same band they were in the late 60s and early 70s.  I suggested a while ago that Mick Jagger could gracefully if he put out more songs like “Old Habits Die Hard”.  It’s a great song, but I might have been wrong in my assessment.  Would you really want Keith Richards and Mick Jagger to age gracefully?  They were not graceful in the first place – that’s what made them The Rolling Stones in the first place.

Life proves that Richards doesn’t plan on aging gracefully.  He’s ready to give two middle fingers to those that think otherwise.  But more than that he’s proving that passion for rock and roll doesn’t go away with age.

 

 

 

 

 

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Old Habits Die Hard – Mick Jagger And Growing Old With Dignity

 

Until recently I had forgotten about “Old Habit Die Hard” Mick Jagger’s song from the Alfie Soundtrack.  All 4 minutes of the song are better than the entire Alfie movie.  What really makes this song standout for me though – is that for the first time in decades, Mick Jagger actually sounds like the 66 year old man he is.  

The song is clearly about a woman.  But considering the Stones penchant for touring constantly and putting out A Bigger Bang in 2005 (which unfortunately sounded like 60 year old men trying to recapture their Exile glory days) it’s hard not to look at it as a reflection of Mick’s day job.  The song shows Jagger at his most exposed.  “I’m proud as a lion in his lair,” He laments.  “Now there’s no denying it.”  It’s as he already knows the jokes we’re going to throw at him – he’s too old to continue on the way he does – prancing around the stage with his midriff showing.  But he can’t give it up. “I act like an addict, I just got to have it,” He declares later.  

There’s a reason why Dylan and Springsteen’s latter day careers have been justly praised.  They’ve grown older with their music, but haven’t given up the traits that made them great in the first place. Their last few albums rank up there with the best of their works.  A Bigger Bang was focused more on Stones’ rockers by the numbers than subtlety.  Interestingly, I find Beggar’s Banquet to be more akin to the type of music representative of 60s year olds than A Bigger Bang.   While I do love Keith Richards, it’s hard not to wonder if he is the one who insists on churning out the material that’s found on A Bigger Bang.  

The reason why “Old Habits Die Hard” is such a revelation is because we get Mick Jagger and not “Mick Jagger” the celebrity.   This is the same person who sang the songs on Let it Bleed, Exile on Main St, and Sticky Fingers just thirty years older.  He’s lamenting his past, and not trying to recapture the days of the past.  Old Habits Die Hard indeed, Mick.

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