Keith Richards on Writing as Performance

I’ve just finished reading Life, Keith Richard’s memoir, for the first time. It’s a book to cherish, a wild ride, an endlessly fascinating tale of Keith’s endless fascinations and adventures and very narrow scrapes. It’s also a wonderful extended meditation on creativity. Here’s Keith’s description of composing songs while standing in front of a studio microphone:

Composing a song like that, in front of a mike, is like holding on to a friend in a way. You lead me, brother, I’ll follow behind and we’ll sort the bits out later. It’s like you’ve been taken for a blind ride. I might have a riff, an idea, a chord sequence, but I’ve no idea what to sing over it. I’m not agonizing for days with poems and shit. And what I find fascinating about it is that when you’re up there on the microphone and say, OK, let’s go, something comes out that you wouldn’t have dreamt of. Then within a millisecond you’ve got to come up with something else that adds to what you’ve just said. It’s kind of jousting with yourself. And suddenly you’ve got something going and there’s a framework to work with  You’re going to screw up a lot of times doing it that way. You’ve just got to put in on the mike and see how far it can go before you run out of steam.

Kind of like jousting with yourself. Kind of like holding on to a friend. Kind of like blogging, actually. Something comes out you wouldn’t have dreamt of. Something I’m trying to find my way back to, myself.

Keef: thanks.

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