April 6, 2010

Keith Richards, librarian


Keith Richards in his home library

Keith Richards in his home library

Keith Richards, the grizzled veteran of rock’n’roll excess, has confessed to a secret longing: to be a librarian,” says John Harlow in this profile for the Independent. “After decades spent partying in a haze of alcohol and drugs, Richards will tell in his forthcoming autobiography that he has been quietly nurturing his inner bookworm.”

Harlow says that in his book, Life, due out in October from Little Brown,”Richards will reveal how, as a child growing up in the post-war-austerity of 1950s London, he found refuge in books before he discovered the blues.”

As Richards explains, “When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equaliser.”

Harlow says Richards is so into his personal library that  he “considered ‘professional training’ to manage thousands of books at his homes in Sussex and Connecticut,” even going so far at one point as to organize ” by the librarian’s standard Dewey Decimal classification system …”

Which makes one wonder how he’ll file his own book — under Keith Richards, or Keith Richard, the names he’s alternated between from one Stones record to the next.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives