I’ve been reading Life by Keith Richards and it’s fascinating for all the reasons one might suspect: the inside rock’n’roll story, the gossip about Mick, and the revelations about where the songs came from (Jumpin’ Jack Flash is a good one).
All that aside, what interests me about this book is not juicy stories of debauchery and came-from-nothing-to-make-it-big exuberance, but the insight it provides about longevity.
The Rolling Stones turn 50 this year. 50 years as a band. That’s a great marriage. No one stays in the game (let alone on top of the game) for 50 years in the music industry.
I don’t know the secret to that yet. I’ll let you know if I find out. But along the way Keith has some great insights to a whole bunch of things…creativity, cultural change, doing what you love to do.
Here’s a bit about the creative process (he’s talking about songwriting but I think you can insert writing, preaching, anything creative):
“Because you are playing, working, every day…ideas are flowing. One thing feeds the other. You may be having a swim or whatever, but somewhere in the back of the mind, you’re thinking about this chord sequence or something related to a song. You might be getting shot at, and you’ll still be ‘Oh! That’s the bridge!’ And there’s nothing you can do; you don’t realize its happening. It’s totally subconscious, unconscious or whatever.
The radar is on whether you know it or not. You cannot switch it off.
You’re constantly on the alert…You start looking around, and everything’s a subject for a song. The banal phrase, which is the one that makes it. And you say, I can’t believe nobody hooked up on that one before!”