I Can’t Get No: An Open Apology To Keith Richards
by Steve Heilig, May 20, 2011
“Step 8 — Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
Hi. Long time, I know, man. So long you likely don't remember me. Can't blame ya, considering some of the things I've just read in your autobiography.
But of course I remember you, and, well, I have of late been involved in something called a “twelve-step recovery program” and have been thinking of you, for some reason. Now, you may have never heard of such a program, but it is for people who want to be you, but are not quite you. I'm not you, and thus, this program and this letter. One of the “steps” we are supposed to do is to apologize to anybody we may have f___d over while we were, well, trying to be like you. So here I am, offering a few apologies. Here goes:
I am sorry, I said, many many times over the years, that your band has not made a half-decent record since 1972 — you know, “Exile on Main Street,” if you recall that one. Because, well, you might have made a half-decent one in 1978 ("Some Girls,” if you recall that one).
I am sorry I stole your credit card when you ate at my pal's fancy Manhattan restaurant sometime in the 80s (I don't recall a lot of these exact dates either; that is part of why I am in this program). As I say, I was trying to be you. But thankfully for both of us, those “shooting galleries” that were all over the place down on Avenue C — before the yuppies moved in — did not take plastic back then.
I am sorry I once told somebody that Mick's then-wife Jerry looked like a hotter chick than your then — girlfriend Patti, especially since you married yours. Stupid remark; I didn't even really dig blond chicks; it was that Bianca chick of his who gave me the hots and I was, well, confused.
I am sorry you and I both still call chicks “chicks.” I think that went out in about, oh, 1968. So most chicks don't dig being called that now. Just so you know.
I am sorry about that Altamont inconvenience. Even though it was all Mick's fault.
I am sorry I said, in print even I think, that when the Stones founder beautiful Brian Jones died in 1969 your band went from being the “ugliest group in rock and roll” to being the ugliest group in rock, jazz, classical, blues, reggae, bluegrass, funk, Tuvan throat singing, barbershop quartet, salsa, and German beer hall choruses.
I am sorry about those solo albums. All of them.
I am sorry our mutual pal Peter Tosh threatened to kill you when you wanted him to vacate your Jamaican pad. But unlike your band, those Rastafarian guys truly come from a rough place; plus they smoke almost as much as you did. You've outlived the poor guy by a long shot anyway, so there's that, I suppose.
I am sorry you found heroin. If you coulda stuck with the booze, pot, tobacco, coke, mandrax, valium, acid, ecstasy, ______________ (attach extra sheets as needed) maybe things would have gone smoother with the law and even the other guys in the band, the women, the law, and who knows who else.
I am sorry about your good pal the late great Gram Parsons. Great singer, but like I said, not everyone — well, anyone — can be like you. Not your fault he tried anyway, but, still.
I am sorry about Aerosmith, the Black Crowes, all the thousands of other wannabe-Stones bands who have tried to be what you were for those few years you were known as the “greatest rock-and-roll band in the world"; again, not your fault.
I am sorry about stealing the leftover blood you gave up in that doomed bogus detox transfusion effort. It wasn't really worth it as it tasted terrible going down and didn't really bring any desired effect. I don't even recall how much we got for the rest of those fluids on the black market, but that's probably for the best.
I am sorry about the usurious British tax rates you had to contend with. If it helps any, we have a “socialist” problem here in the colonies too, as you may have heard of late. But our “tea partiers” are trying hard to fix that for you, man.
I am sorry that George W. Bush's and Donald Rumsfeld's memoirs were published at the same time as yours. Heavy competition, I know, man. But all three books made the bestsellers lists, but whoa, man, it seems even your memory is much better than theirs, and unlike them, you seem to have some humility about things too.
I am sorry about all the trashy hangers-on who chased you through the years. I know you disdained them and thus I stayed out of your way, out of respect. So, can I call you now? Or at least get some free tickets next time you come through town on tour?
There. Now I feel better. Rock on, man. ¥¥
PS. This “was not intended to be a factual statement” — to quote a tea-partying politician.]