I remember once hearing a record shop owner being asked by a customer who Marianne Faithfull was. His reply was "just some Rolling Stones groupie", and I immediately wanted to punch him in the face. Never just Mick's muse (he chased her, btw), or a stunning '60s dollybird . . . she was, for a long time, the spirit of The Stones. If it weren't for her, they would never have worn brocade, bought castles to fill with Persian rugs, taken LSD, tried to emulate the god Pan, or read Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita . . . which inspired nearly all of Beggars Banquet. She was rock 'n roll's first decadent, bohemian royal queen. Not only that, but she continues to contribute her own wonderful art to the universe . . . wildly entertaining memoirs, acting roles, and deliciously relevant music (collaborating with the likes of Nick Cave, Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker, to name only a few).
During a shamanistic convergence in my early-20s (aka; a really crappy time), I spotted a copy of Faithfull's autobiography at a used bookstore in Hollywood, and once I began reading about her glamourous, tripped-out and troubled journey, my soul applauded. I'd encountered a kindred vagabond spirit, and she's been a major source of inspiration ever since. It's also my belief that you haven't truly lived until you've seen her preform The Ballad of Lucy Jordan live. Next time she's in town, make it a life priority.
In a lovely tribute to her highness of cool, the Tate Liverpool has given Faithfull access to their collection, and she, along with gallerist John Dunbar (her first husband, also known as the man who introduced John to Yoko), have curated an autobiographical show featuring pieces she feels represent seminal periods in her colorful life thus far. The show, entitled Innocence and Experience, includes pieces by: Richard Hamilton, Nan Goldin, Man Ray, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon (a close friend of Faithfull's), Robert Mapplethorpe, Pauline Boty, Rene Magritte and Sir Peter Blake, among others. I'm hoping to catch the show before it closes on September 2nd.
More about Marianne:
– She has the distinction of being the first person to say the word Fu*k in a motion picture (1967's I'll Never Forget What's'isname)
– Jimi Hendrix's The Wind Cries Mary is about her.
– She divides her time between an apartment in Paris, and an Irish castle with a ballroom made entirely of seashells.
– She co-penned the lyrics to Sister Morphine, and Jagger wrote Wild Horses about her . . . probably his most beautiful love song, ever.
– She recorded reggae with Sly & Robbie and Serge Gainsbourg.
– Marianne's great-great uncle was Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, author of the fetishtic book, Venus in Furs (1869). The concept of "Masochism" was later named after him.
– Her best friend is Anita Pallenberg.
– She basically invented hardcore gangster rap.
– She turned down Bob Dylan.
*Faithfull collage by me, J.B.T. Please do not reproduce without permission. Merci.