The Guardian is running a great interview with Keith Richards today and I just thought I’d let you know. He is specifically talking about his love of the blues, how it shaped his early life and acknowledges the debt owed to Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Chuck Berry, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson.
Of particular interest was his attitude to the recording process, the positioning of microphones, how far they could be pushed, the acoustics of the room and overcoming the ‘you don’t do it like that’ approach of men in white coats. “You’re up against this monolithic idea of, like, the correct method of recording. But we’re not looking for the correct method, we’re looking for the incorrect method: I want to see how much that microphone can take.” He was talking about the early 1960s. It could be argued that somewhere down the line he and his buddies lost that thirst for knowledge through experimentation. I honestly doubt whether it is any different for a new band today. A kid steps in a studio for the first time and a guy in a ponytail tells him how it’s done. And it invariably sounds like shit.
Well, we all know what Keith does for a day job and when did his band last cut a record that sounded great? Maybe I’m giving him an easy ride, but take the interview at face value and aside from being very funny, which he usually is in interviews (when coherent), he speaks nothing but sense. And after half a century of being treated like a god wherever he goes he hasn’t forgotten to pay his debt to those old bluesmen. Compared to the drab words of celebs, actors and pop stars with fifteen minutes in the public eye he comes across as remarkably frank and refreshing.
The interview was culled from Blues Britannia: Can Blue Men Sing the Whites?, tonight on BBC4. I’ll be watching and here’s a reminder not only of the debt owed by the Stones but also of how bloody great that band once was.