Letters from the pub - Richards


Translated by Emilia Maiella

I have many things, but they are imaginary. Rock has meant a lot and continues to represent a lot. I need it, and yet music is not enough for me. I want them, those who made rock and by doing it, they fucked me forever too.

Inventing a place like this was the only way to deal with my beloved ones. It is all in my head; it is just in my imagination. It is just rock and roll.

It is a sacred place, the pub. Holiness and rock and roll: well, you know how it is, right? The benches, the tables, the urban style and its metropolitan atmosphere, this monastic silence that fuels the imagination, or maybe it is just the beer’s fault that makes me rave, who cares?

Two guys sit three tables away from mine. The jingling of their mugs awakens me from my considerations. When they recognize the man who enters and sits at my table, the two keep turning around. I am not jealous, I am just annoyed by steady gazes.


- It happens because you're not used to it - the man says.

- Oh, hello uncle. Do you read thoughts too?

- I've seen so many, that I've developed certain skills...

- Oh, without a doubt...

- Well, so, what the hell do you want?

- I read your book.

- Good.

- It's nice.

- Uhm...

- A life as a real scum of rock. Beautiful stone, couldn’t miss in my bookshelf.

- Yeah, I think so too, but...

- What?

- Come on, after all these bowing and scraping, you're about to tell me something you didn’t like...

- No. I mean...

- So what?

- Ok. Why that chapter on Jagger’s dick?

- Oh, I didn’t spoil the image of anyone. Mick, however, couldn’t compete with Hendrix’s manhood or the one of Zappa... nor with mine, after all...

- I think it wasn’t correct to dwell on the dimensions of Mick's sex...

- Are you kidding? These are interesting things. Fans go crazy, ah, ah, ah...

- I wonder what was the need to dwell on such a question...

 - It seems to me that you take it on a personal level.

- Why?

- Yes, it would seem that the matter concerned you: what's wrong, boy?

- Do you think there is something wrong? And then, we were talking about Mick: how would you react if someone speculated on your dick?

- I get it.

- What?

- Oh, forget it...

- No, tell me...

- It does not matter, Johnny!

- Yes, it matters to me...

- Ok. You don’t get laid.

- Me?

- Oh, you can tell me. You're a loser, but I'd love you anyway.

- No... well... I... I mean, lately I had a vertical collapse in this sector, I just suffered a serious recession and my quotations are a bit in depreciation...

- Just a bit?

- Well, come on, surely I'm not Mick Jagger!

- Why are you interested in Mick so much?

- Listen: I too think Mick is a bit...

- Hey: be careful on what you say. I’m the only one allowed to insult Mick. 

His ways are peremptory and convincing, and I am just a guy who shows some respect. Maybe too much. Yes, I am too devoted to all those who have torn my soul off. He wears strange green shoes that look like butterfly wings.


- I didn’t mean to insult anyone.

- All right.

- The part about your mother, however, that is moving. Eh, Malaguena...

- Yep.

- And then…

- Listen: stop it, Johnny! You broke my balls, you know?

- Well, but I...

- That's beautiful, that other part is ugly... has nothing to do with this shit, you know? That's just how it went. It's not a problem of what you like or not.

- It was just to talk...

- Can they serve a Jack Daniel's in this fucking place?

- Well, really...

- It's just a shithole. Where did you invite me, Johnny?

- Beer is from an excellent workmanship...

- Excellent workmanship... you speak like a tailor, do you know that?

- Eh, a tailor...

- Beer did you say?

- Yes, there's the red ale that...

- Red?

- Yes, red.

- And can they add a little vodka to that red ale in this fucking pub?

- Well...

- Ok. A red ale. Smooth, Johnny, please.

- Fine. You'll have it right away.

- See Johnny, you do not have to be so submissive...

- But for me you are...

- I'm just an asshole like everyone else. I'm just an equation.

- An equation?

- Yes, Johnny. I am a dude who has been elevated to some power, but shortening the basis, he becomes like the other numbers, do you understand? Try to see me without projections. And forgive my whims.  


He takes his shoes with butterfly wings off. He puts his tired feet on my legs. He stares at me and lights a cigarette. He blows on my face the smoke coming out of his poor lungs is.

- Do you know Johnny? You're a great boy.


Then, barefoot, he climbs on the small stage and with his acoustic guitar, he plays a piece.

- This is for my friend Johnny B. Boogie.


It's Malaguena. In the end, he goes out. He takes the beer and leaves the green shoes. I run after him.


- Hey, Keef: the shoes!

- They're yours, Johnny. This life runs off quickly, but you put wings on your feet and try to fly!

This piece is called, in fact, Malaguena, and it should be the first piece learned on guitar by a young Keith. Gus, his grandfather, told him: If you can play Malaguena, you can play anything.

Many years later, Keith was taking care of her mother Doris, who was at that time very ill and the last night spent together, he played for her Malaguena.

Based on Life, Keith Richards’ autobiography.


© Enrico Mattioli 2018