Mick Jagger by Philip Norman
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I’m on a biography kick lately and wanted the other half of the Glimmer Twins. The Mick half is a big snore.
One thing we all probably want out of a biography is detail, but there’s way too much of it here. I mostly skipped the childhood chapter, but I have to be fair and admit that it’s difficult to make anyone else’s childhood interesting to me. I yawned my way through two more chapters, not caring much about what kind of jersey Mick wore when he finally sang for the first time with the band that had become the Rolling Stones. At that point I gave in to the urge to just flip through the pages. I managed to pick out the sections on Brian Jones’ death and Altamont, where I didn’t learn anything new, although I did see enough references to the Mars bar non-incident to know that somebody’s a wee bit hung up on it. I’d have been interested to read about life with Bianca and Jerry, but I wasn’t up to sifting through all the minutiae to get there. DNF’d.
I am disappointed that the story of one of rock’s most charismatic and controversial frontmen is such a tedious slog, but I suppose Norman did a creditable job given that his subject wouldn’t cooperate. The photos aren’t that great either; you can find better with a Google image search. If you want personal insight and what someone actually thought and felt about it all, read Keith Richards’ autobiography instead. The truthfulness of either book is not for me to know, but Life gives a lot more satisfaction.
UPDATE ADDITION: It was bugging the crap out of me that I hadn’t finished the book so I went back and skimmed through all 600 +/- pages, although I did start after the photos section in the middle, skimmed to the end, and then skimmed from somewhere near where I’d originally left off near the beginning, to finish up in the middle. I doubt it made much difference. Still tedious, and also quite definitely some tit-for-tat in re Keith’s book going on there, so much that I kept muttering, “Oh, grow up” and rolling my eyes at each catty new potshot. The exaggerated phonetic translation of Mick’s singing, such as “Yes, I used to looeerve her, bu-u-rd it’s awl over now” and “Wawld, wawld hors-es, we’ll ride them serm-day” and making “lerve serm-tahms…so fahn” for every single song lyric I came across became annoying as all hell. And what’s with referring to him as “Sir Mick” every single time after his knighthood? Yes, I know he really was “Sir Mick” at that point, but it seems…suck-up-y. I did come away with big admiration for Jerry Hall – now there’s class. I’m revising up to two stars partly because I went back and “finished” the book, but mostly for Jerry.