Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

by Keith Richards & James Fox

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Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby Liz » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:41 pm

Comment on the story of Keith and his friends being held back a year because their voices began to crack. (pg. 52-53) I will give portions of the passages here:

The three sopranos were Terry and Spike and me—the stars, you might say, of the show……You got out of physics and chemistry, and I would have done anything for that. That’s where I learned a lot about singing and music and working with musicians. I learned how to put a band together—it’s basically the same job—and how to keep it together. And then the s**t hit the fan.

Your voice breaks, aged thirteen, and Jake Clare gave the three of us sopranos the pink slip. But they also demoted us, kept us down one class. We had to stay down a year because we hadn’t got physics and chemistry and hadn’t done our maths. “Yeah, but you let us off that because of choir practice. We worked our butts off.” That was a rough thank-you. The great depression came right after that. Suddenly at thirteen I had to sit down and start again with the year under. Redo a whole school year. This was the kick in the guts, pure and unmixed. The moment that happened, Spike, Terry and I, we became terrorists. I was so mad, I had a burning desire for revenge. I had reason then to bring down this country and everything it stood for.

I spent the next three years trying to f**k them up. If you want to breed a rebel, that’s the way to do it.

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:50 pm

:lol: well I thought it was a bit unfair to be honest, they had been taken out of class to sing but when they were no good anymore they were then told they had to redo the year they'd missed. I'm not surprised he was annoyed, I can't really comment on the system back then since I wasn't around but these days you'd not be taken out of class like that so the situation wouldn't arise. I have a feeling since Keith wasn't into science anyway that it wouldn't have mattered also I think that bit of rebellion was probably in him to some degree anyway it just needed a focus.

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:49 pm

I will agree with GG that there was probably already a rebellious streak in Keith - this may have been a catalyst for that rebelliousness or, in retrospect, it now serves as a safe excuse for his behavior, but I don't think his rebelliousness was caused by a simple single issue.

Doesn't this coincide with the Doris/Bill/Bert triangle? On page 63 he says Doris "took up" with Bill in 1957, so Keith would have been roughly 13/14 years old. His home life probably wasn't the most stable or comfortable around that time and that is a pretty volatile age.

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:53 pm

Oh, I totally related to that passage!! In fact reading it again just now, I can feel my own young anger welling up inside me again like it was yesterday. (I think my own societal rebelliousness stemmed largely from a similar all-too-strict-screw-the-kids school experience). There’s a special kind of anger that comes from being totally :censored: by a system that you have absolutely no control over. No justice. No power. No peace. Oh yes, the seeds of rebellion run deep… No better way to breed a rebel than to force a young person into a situation like that!! I'm with ya, Keef!

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:59 pm

nebraska wrote:I will agree with GG that there was probably already a rebellious streak in Keith - this may have been a catalyst for that rebelliousness or, in retrospect, it now serves as a safe excuse for his behavior, but I don't think his rebelliousness was caused by a simple single issue.

Doesn't this coincide with the Doris/Bill/Bert triangle? On page 63 he says Doris "took up" with Bill in 1957, so Keith would have been roughly 13/14 years old. His home life probably wasn't the most stable or comfortable around that time and that is a pretty volatile age.

Yes, I think you may be right although not sure he noticed that straight away did he? Mind I think the things Keith did to show his rebelliousness seem quite mild :lol: I see some parallels with Johnny's teen life too.

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:03 pm

Gilbert's Girl wrote:
nebraska wrote:I will agree with GG that there was probably already a rebellious streak in Keith - this may have been a catalyst for that rebelliousness or, in retrospect, it now serves as a safe excuse for his behavior, but I don't think his rebelliousness was caused by a simple single issue.

Doesn't this coincide with the Doris/Bill/Bert triangle? On page 63 he says Doris "took up" with Bill in 1957, so Keith would have been roughly 13/14 years old. His home life probably wasn't the most stable or comfortable around that time and that is a pretty volatile age.

Yes, I think you may be right although not sure he noticed that straight away did he? Mind I think the things Keith did to show his rebelliousness seem quite mild :lol: I see some parallels with Johnny's teen life too.

What I meant was that even if he didn't know specifically what his mother was doing, life at home couldn't have been very happy -- or Doris wouldn't have begun that relationship with Bill in the first place. Kids have a way of sensing a lot more than we think they do.

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:21 pm

nebraska wrote:
Gilbert's Girl wrote:
nebraska wrote:I will agree with GG that there was probably already a rebellious streak in Keith - this may have been a catalyst for that rebelliousness or, in retrospect, it now serves as a safe excuse for his behavior, but I don't think his rebelliousness was caused by a simple single issue.

Doesn't this coincide with the Doris/Bill/Bert triangle? On page 63 he says Doris "took up" with Bill in 1957, so Keith would have been roughly 13/14 years old. His home life probably wasn't the most stable or comfortable around that time and that is a pretty volatile age.

Yes, I think you may be right although not sure he noticed that straight away did he? Mind I think the things Keith did to show his rebelliousness seem quite mild :lol: I see some parallels with Johnny's teen life too.

What I meant was that even if he didn't know specifically what his mother was doing, life at home couldn't have been very happy -- or Doris wouldn't have begun that relationship with Bill in the first place. Kids have a way of sensing a lot more than we think they do.

:ok:

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:38 pm

At age 13 or 14 he may not have realized what a rebel he was becoming but I would imagine reflectiing back on his life that is something that stands out as a formative situation. I think many factors shape who we become but that little rebellious streak is there from the get go. Sometimes it gets nurtured, sometimes it gets squashed.
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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:28 pm

To begin with, the age itself is rebellious. The idealized image of adults as always right, always knowing best is fading fast. And if the "adults" in question are doing things that strike a child as unfair, the rebellion becomes even more pronounced. These are kids who feel completely let down, disappointed to the core. Some end up acting out in rather serious ways, like gang involvement, whereas others just wall themselves off from adults. I work with high school kids and these guys wear their hearts on their sleeves. They want so much to "be" what they feel adults respect. When the adult doesn't keep up their end of the bargain, it's like a slap in the face.
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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby Buster » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:52 pm

Being made to repeat a grade is a particularly vicious slap in the face for a kid. Schools seem to fall into this kind of mistake often, not recognising what an impact it has on a kid's social life, as well. The obvious way to regain honor is to be conspicuously defiant.
That said, I agree that rebelliousness is a more prominent trait in some of us than others...

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:16 am

fireflydances wrote:To begin with, the age itself is rebellious. The idealized image of adults as always right, always knowing best is fading fast. And if the "adults" in question are doing things that strike a child as unfair, the rebellion becomes even more pronounced. ... When the adult doesn't keep up their end of the bargain, it's like a slap in the face.

Buster wrote:Being made to repeat a grade is a particularly vicious slap in the face for a kid.

Very true, firefly and Buster. And in Keith’s case the slap was also especially fierce because, as he put it, they “worked their butts off” for the school, did as they were asked, and then were seemingly punished for it! Held back a year AND kicked out of the choir because their voices changed. I’m sure it was eye-opening, to say the least.

As for the home life contributing, I get the feeling that maybe it had more to do with what his parents didn't do, than maybe what they did do. I.e., I don't think they were down at the school supporting their son, arguing the school's decisions. But then, who did in those days? You didn't question authority.

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:01 am

RamblinRebel wrote:
fireflydances wrote:To begin with, the age itself is rebellious. The idealized image of adults as always right, always knowing best is fading fast. And if the "adults" in question are doing things that strike a child as unfair, the rebellion becomes even more pronounced. ... When the adult doesn't keep up their end of the bargain, it's like a slap in the face.

Buster wrote:Being made to repeat a grade is a particularly vicious slap in the face for a kid.

Very true, firefly and Buster. And in Keith’s case the slap was also especially fierce because, as he put it, they “worked their butts off” for the school, did as they were asked, and then were seemingly punished for it! Held back a year AND kicked out of the choir because their voices changed. I’m sure it was eye-opening, to say the least.

As for the home life contributing, I get the feeling that maybe it had more to do with what his parents didn't do, than maybe what they did do. I.e., I don't think they were down at the school supporting their son, arguing the school's decisions. But then, who did in those days? You didn't question authority.


I agree there, people didn't get involved with their kids education in those days like they might do these days you just left them to it. I'm sure at that age it wouldn't have mattered if they had continued in the year they should have been in they could probbaly have caught up if they had been encouraged to do so. Would have been a big humiliation as he said.

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:43 am

I may be old fashioned, or maybe I just don't understand something here, but it seems to me that a student who is behind in studies and doesn't have the basic foundation to move on to the next level is put in an awkward position where failure is likely to heap upon failure and stress and frustration are going to multiply. Not sure that is good for anyone. When that student becomes an adult and has to function in the world, it seems like his childhood social life is going to matter less than his grasp of academics, like math for instance.

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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:57 am

nebraska wrote:I may be old fashioned, or maybe I just don't understand something here, but it seems to me that a student who is behind in studies and doesn't have the basic foundation to move on to the next level is put in an awkward position where failure is likely to heap upon failure and stress and frustration are going to multiply. Not sure that is good for anyone. When that student becomes an adult and has to function in the world, it seems like his childhood social life is going to matter less than his grasp of academics, like math for instance.


That is one of the arguments in education. Passing along a kid for social considerations when they are not prepared academically. That causes frustraion on many levels, student and teacher. I think in Keith's case they had done what the adults told them to do, worked hard at it, and instead of being rewarded they were punished. They should have been given some consideration as to what they could accomplish and been allowed to catch up academically. I think the rules were harder and faster back then.
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Re: Life Question #3 - The seeds of rebelliousness

Unread postby Buster » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:09 am

nebraska wrote:
it seems to me that a student who is behind in studies and doesn't have the basic foundation to move on to the next level is put in an awkward position where failure is likely to heap upon failure and stress and frustration are going to multiply.


We only have Keith's word for it, but it sounded to me as if the reason they fell behind in their studies was because they were doing something else that they excelled at, namely music. It seems to me that rather than penalizing a student for having talent, every effort should be made to nurture it. Academic studies are important, no argument there, but there are ways to help a student to master the required material without resorting to holding them back.

Anyway, keeping him back didn't really work very well, did it? All that happened was that he got angry, less motivated to do well in school, and basically gave up on the whole "unfair" system. I watched the same thing happen to a very gifted math student who was required to take "regular" math classes on top of the advanced programs she was studying. The end result was poor grades in the "grade-level" math, extremely high scores in the advanced classes, and absolute refusal to take any more math classes at all. She scored in the top 1% of all college freshmen on her entrance exams, and never took a math class in college.

Personally, I'm glad Keith stuck with music...


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