But, still, when I think of Keith, I think sometimes of how someone different from the book comes out through these songs. Once in a great while he detaches and looks down at his corporeal self. "I think I lost my touch," he sings on one of them; "It's just another song and it's slippin' away." Rock and roll is strange. When a song is beautiful—those spare guitars rumbling and chiming, by turns—the words mean so much more, and there, for a moment, I believe him, and feel for him.
Or I think about "How Can I Stop" which may end up being Keith's last great song.
"How can I stop … once I start?" he murmurs, over and over again. "How can I stop once I start?"
It's about rock 'n' roll, of course, and playing guitar, and his tenure, and mine, in our unusual coalition. It's also about heroin and everything else he can't stop ingesting. But again it's about Keith himself, who once started never did stop—through the fame, the songs, the concerts and the women and the drugs; and the violence and senselessness, the addictions and the deaths, the ruined lives, the petty and large-scale cruelties. At the end Keith got Wayne Shorter to do a sax solo that is itself almost an out-of-body experience, perhaps the loveliest moment on one of our records. It goes on and on over the last two minutes of a very long track, and the end is almost a … an exaltation, perhaps? I am lost there. It's something I'm not sure I ever saw evidenced in real life, and something that isn't in his book. It's the sound—or at least the closest thing Keith Richards will ever admit to it—of a conscience.