There’s a pretty astonishing piece of criticism on Slate today about the new Keith Richards autobiography, Life. It purports to be by Mick Jagger himself, and comes with an editor’s note attached at the top:
On a recent morning, the journalist Bill Wyman received a UPS package containing a typed manuscript. On reading it, he saw that it seemed to be the thoughts, at some length, of singer Mick Jagger on the recently published autobiography of his longtime songwriting partner in the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards. A handwritten note on an old piece of Munro Sounds stationery read: “Bill: For the vault. M.”
From this, Wyman surmised that the package was intended for Jagger and Richards’ former bandmate, the bassist Bill Wyman, who has assiduously overseen the band’s archives over the past five decades and with whom Wyman the journalist coincidentally shares the same name…The manuscript he received is reprinted below.
The piece is a kind of vivid reminiscence of Jagger and Richards’s time in the Rolling Stones together, and sharply observed, but alert readers might notice there is also an incongruously large amount of recapping what it is in the actual book, not to mention some suspiciously helpful autobiographical detail about the various parties involved. This is because, of course, Mick Jagger didn’t actually write the article. Bill Wyman the journalist did.
This fact is trumpeted in the article’s subhed — “What if Mick Jagger responded to Keith Richards about his new autobiography?” — and in the comments by Wyman himself, who explains his rationale for impersonating Jagger in print: “I intended the piece to be just a book review, but also a piece of press criticism — it was odd to me how many of the reviews took everything Richards said at face value, and repeated, merrily, stories that were actually a bit grim.” (Also, “Jagger” uses the word “fucktard.” Probably not, in real life.)
The article is certainly fulfilling its destiny as a piece of press criticism. For one thing, large swaths of the internet seem to think the thing is real — including legitimate members of the press. (We don’t blame you, Superchunk!) We will spare you the resuscitation of music critics we follow on Twitter who have fallen for the piece today, to say nothing of Philadelphia’s Fox affiliate (now wised up), and a host of other publications who ran with the news of “Jagger”‘s response.
Instead, we’ll merely recommend reading the article in the spirit it was intended — as a sequel to the site’s now infamous Kanye West-in-social-media profile, as a virtuoso act of homage to Jagger, Richards & Co., and a bit of a prod both to the people who take ex-heroin addict rockers entirely at their word and the people who read too quickly past the headline. The latter of which, we might as well add here, is exactly what we too did this morning. Fridays are a hell of a drug.