Songwriting can be a tricky beast -- the best ideas can come to an artist at any given time, so it's best to keep a notebook handy. But for The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, keeping a recording going while he's snoring away is probably the best course of action.
NPR's Fresh Air from WHYY podcast is kicking off a weeklong series of some of the best and brightest music interviews from their archives, beginning with host Terry Gross' chat with The Rolling Stones' iconic guitarist Keith Richards back in 2010, talking about co-founding the band, writing songs with Mick Jagger, and how things changed when the group became household names.
The discussion, set within the context of the release of Keith's 2010 autobiography Life, begins with Richards speaking about the conscious decision the Stones made to separate themselves from their contemporaries, The Beatles -- "to not be the Fab Four," as he puts it, as well as the basic differences, and friendly camaraderie between the two groups.
Also in his autobiography, Richards describes writing The Stones' hugely popular 1965 single, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Explaining further, Keith says he wished every song would come as easily, describing how the track was essentially a "miracle that took place." After adding a fresh tape to his trusty cassette recorder, Keith fell asleep "as usual with my guitar, and I wake up the next morning and I see that the tape has run to the very end," he says.
"I thought, 'well I didn't do anything, you know... Maybe I hit a button while I was asleep,'" he explains. "So, I put it back to the beginning and pushed play, and there in some sort of ghostly version," Keith begins singing the hook and lyrics. "There's a whole verse of it," he adds, "and after that, there's 40 minutes of me snoring! But there's the song in its embryo, and I actually dreamt the damn thing. I'm still waiting for another dream."
"These things are all made out of little sparks that come to you," Richards says, "and you're lucky to be around to grab 'em. That's basically the process of how we work."
Listen to the full interview above, and later in the podcast find Terry's 2010 interview with Queen guitarist Brian May, telling stories behind some of the band's most famous songs including "We Will Rock You," and "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Fresh Air from WHYY is now streaming on Audacy. The Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries. Subscribe to Fresh Air Plus! You'll be supporting the unique show you can't get enough of - and you can listen sponsor-free. Learn more at plus.npr.org/freshair
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