I’m putting my homage to Captain Beefheart on hold – next post, promise! – to record some impressions of Keith Richards on Desert Island Discs this morning while they’re still fresh. I’ve always enjoyed the programme, believing that a person’s choice of music enhances their intimate biography like nothing else … hmm, future post mapped out right there, methinks! The current presenter, Kirsty Young, combines a warm welcome to put castaways at ease with a forensic line in questioning that brings out their special qualities and charmingly eccentric idiosyncrasies. Forget the royals – public broadcasting is the crown of British life and programmes like this are its glimmering jewels.
And talking of glimmer, our Keef was one half of a songwriting partnership (take a bow, Sir Mick Jagger!) which rivalled Lennon & McCartney in both quality and commercial success, surpassing the Beatle pair in longevity. The Glimmer Twins, as they became known, had more hits than hot dinners and KR’s choices on Desert Island Discs reflected the rootsy influences that underpinned all those Stones classics.
His stories – like the one about their first meeting on a train when Keith noticed the rare American pressings of Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry albums tucked under Mick’s arm – were familiar old chestnuts brought back to vibrant life by the wily old raconteur, with his self-deprecating English irony and that glorious wheezy chuckle. The chat was laid-back and laughter-filled, the music choices impeccable – one or two surprises alongside the faultless rhythm’n’blues – and the 45 minutes flew past almost too quickly … a nostalgic delight for one who lived through those exciting times and thoroughly recommended for younger folk hungry for the same musical nourishment that kept Keith Richards alive when the dole money ran out.
Would the British invasion ever have happened without social security, I wonder, and Art Colleges? Blimey, there’s another idea for a post, better get typing! And if you’ve got a spare moment, why not visit the BBC website for your Open Sesame to this radio cave-full of twinkling treasures …