Keith Richards, the rough-edged, raspy-voiced, Rolling Stones guitarist, is hardly the man that comes to mind for a picture book writer and narrator, but then again, who better to tell the story of his first guitar?
Richards wins the listener over immediately with his folksy, working class Estuary English accent (think dropped h's and "intrusive" r's) and unmistakable fondness for his topics - his first guitar and his beloved Granddad, Gus. It was the musically talented Gus who introduced a young Keith Richards to the guitar, teaching him how to 'old it, and suggesting the classical Malagueña(r) as the pinnacle of guitar mastery.
I have yet to see the print version of this story, but I don't believe it could surpass the audio book. A story with music at its heart needs music to be understood. Richards plays bits from Malagueña in appropriate spots throughout the story, and during a visit to a music shop in London, we hear Steve Jordan on drums. Once, the listener even hears a little chuckle - not musical, but surprisingly sincere. Richards collaborated with other authors, but this is obviously his story, and he delights in telling it.
(Run time: about 7 minutes)
My review of Gus & Me for AudioFile Magazine appears here with a small excerpt. Take a listen!
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