A couple of stories broke recently about aging rock ‘n’ roll legends who’ve decided to break into the exciting 21st-century medium of printed text. If only there were a third, we’d have a bona fide trend on our hands! But we’ve only got the two of ‘em, and you know what that means: Time to pit these guys against each other for a no-holds-barred fight and declare a winner!
First up is Pirates of the Caribbean 3 costar Keith Richards, who I am pretty sure also plays an instrument in some sort of band sometimes.
The project: A tell-all memoir, which reportedly sold for the tune of $7.3 million.
Source material: Richards’ exploits as the most decadent member of the Rolling Stones — no mean feat.
Intriguing questions raised: Will we finally find out the truth about Keef’s, er, mourning process for his dearly departed dad? Or the time he [scandalous urban legend redacted to avoid libel suit]?
Potential pitfalls: Everyone’s going with the “He’s forgotten it all!” angle on this, but I’ll be much more worried if Richards’ memory turns out to have survived the ’70s intact. Any true stories that he tells us now can only pale in comparison to the sensational rumors that have circulated about his wild lifestyle for decades.
And in the other corner stands hardy Canadian Neil Young, beloved by folkies and grunge-rockers alike.
The project: A graphic novel.
Source material: Young’s 2003 concept LP Greendale.
Intriguing questions raised: Will he be transformed into a superhero wielding the awesome power of “haunting falsetto”?
Potential pitfalls: Greendale’s a decent album, but I was never able to get into the small-town narrative which supposedly ran through its songs. Young already tried to bring that concept to life once before, with his 2004 Greendale movie — which EW’s Owen Gleiberman dealt a withering C–. Ouch.
I’ll take Richards’ autobiography, by a mile. It may not quite live up to his larger-than-life rep — but then again, it just might. And if Young wanted to turn one of his albums into a graphic novel, he could’ve at least picked one of the less lame ones. Am I being unfair? Is anyone out there actually excited to buy either of these volumes?