A Review

Famous Groupies Of The Sixties Series

Faithfull: An Autobiography

by

Marianne Faithfull

marianne_faithfull

Marianne Faithfull

 

Review by R.E. Prindle

Season Of The Witch

 

All night, all day, Marianne

Down by the seaside sifting sand.

Even little children love Marianne,

Down by the seaside sifting sand.

-Terry Gilkyson And The Easy Riders

     Technically Marianne Faithfull wasn’t a groupie.  Her early years resembled one but in her later years she was sought after as a conquest by men of the groupie mentality.  I’m sure as everyone knows Marianne Faithfull began her career as a very successful pop singer.  Produced originally by Andrew Loog Oldham she was among the first of the new breed of Rock singers, as opposed to Rock n’ Roll.  She belongs to the new rather than the old school.

     Her first song was As Tears Go By.  Single and album were very successful, more or less establishing her reputation for all time- or at least until the generation passes away.

     My first knowledge of  Marianne Faithful was when the strains of As Tears Go By wafted into my study window.  They continued to waft all day long for weeks.  The girl in the apartment next door was fixated on the song.  A little fat girl.    So after the 7000th rendition  of As Tears Go By I had my first nervous breakdown.  Marianne Faithfull was a sour taste.

    

mick-jagger-picture-1

Mick Jagger

 Then as far as I’m concerned she dropped out of the pop scene.

     Her auto was first published in 1994, I just read the paperback the other day so the book is probably old hat to most of you but as I didn’t find any real reviews on the internet I decided to give it a try.  I don’t see any reason to do the whole book so I’ll concentrate on the three Bob Dylan incidents, aspects of her relationship with Mick Jagger and Donald Cammell and his movie, Performance.  The book is highly readable and entertaining until after her divorce form Jagger about two thirds of the way through the book when she falls into a drug stupor.  At that point it is necessary to avoid falling into Marianne’s own depression.  Too late for her to get over it now.

     Her career began when she was selected for her looks by Andrew Loog Oldham, producer of the Stones, who saw her at a party.  Asked if she could sing she said yes.  Next, there she was behind a microphone lisping As Tears Go By.  Thus she was an established big pop singer when she first met Dylan and later came under the thumb of Mick Jagger.  She brought something to the table, she didn’t come empty handed.  She was an equal.  To be treated as an appendage enraged her probably contributing to her drug addiction

     She met Dylan during his ’65 tour.  You can see her sitting in the corner in the movie Don’t Look Back.  She has some trenchant comments to make of the various prticipants in the Savoy Hotel debacle.  She’s very intelligent.  She was a young girl at the time, Dylan being five years older.  She was in awe of Dylan who she considered the hippest god on the planet.donovan05

     Dylan is supposed to be a master seducer.  It wasn’t that Marianne wasn’t ready and willing, she was.  In her mocking portrayal of the scene Dylan rather than complimenting her beauty and talent made an attempt to overawe she who was already overawed with his own wizardry.  In the process the seduction fell through.  Mazrianne skipped merrily away.

     Now, this is a girl who a year or two younger , while on tour with a review including Roy Orbison responded to him when he knocked on her door and said:  Hi.  I’m Roy Orbison.  I’m in room 602.  And Marianne skipped on down the hall.  How could Dylan have missed? 

     Later in the book, the year was 1979 when Dylan was going though his Jesus years, while Marianne had entered clinical depression doing heroin and sitting on her wall like Humpty-Dumpty all day, every day, Dylan arrived for another tour.   His dealer was a friend of Marianne’s and he asked if she knew where Marianne was.  Oh yes.  Demelza, the heroin dealer got Marianne to come over.  Dylan and Marianne’s second verse was worse than the first.  By this time depressed, enraged and seeking vengeance against the men in her life Marianne was far from compliant.  She had recently released Broken English, I’ve never heard the record so I can’t comment on the lyrics, so she mocked the Wise One by asking him if he understood her lyrics.  He couldn’t explain hers any better than she could his.  A little drip on the name of Bob, a little triumph for Marianne.  Dylan went away unfulfilled again.

     Oop, there is a third meeting.  Marianne now beyond depression walking down railway ties none of us will ever be able to see.   She overdosed on heroin, staggered and fell breaking her jaw.  Complications arose requiring serious surgery.  Pins were put in her jaw along with some contraption to hold the two parts together that apparently went

Keith Richards

Keith Richards

through her cheek sticking out like a water spigot.  Had to sleep on one side.

     While Dylan was playing in Boston she presented herself backstage in this grotesque appearance.  Too weird for Dylan.  Three strikes and he was out.  Never spoke to him again, she says.  (To 1994 when the book went to press.

     After the first meeting Marianne hooked up with Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones for whom we have to thank for As Tears Go By.

     In late 1966 the great Donovan included a song on Sunshine Superman called Season Of The Witch.  The song epitomized the era.  At the time the song made little sense to me but in reading Faithfull it all began to fall into place.  While the sixties were terrific they were also horrific.  Today the horrific impressions dominate my mind.  All standards, all morality disintegrated before our eyes.  It was the end of the world as it dissolved into stange and perplexing LSD fantasy.  Hell, I never even took LSD and I think I know the feeling perfectly.  I’m still getting flashbacks.

     Nothing was real, it was all an illusion.  You could turn yourself inside out right before everyone’s eyes and get no reaction.  Hey, everyone was living through their own movie.  Marianne captures this feeling perfectly in 300 pages but so did Donovan in three verses:

When I look out my window

Many sights to see.

When I look in my window

So many different people to be

That it’s strange, so strange,

Must be the season of the witch,

Must be the season of the witch.

     Marianne’s succession of people to be began in childhood.  She as well as all these musicians, singers and dancers came from humble backgrounds with low expectations  but grand hopes and dreams.  Picked for the size of her bust to be a rock star, piles of money were thrown at her.  Inevitably dissociation occurred as the possiblity to be anyone appeared possible only to be held back by that humble past of low expectations.  how to behave in these new circumstances, not so easy, not so easy.

The rabbits are running in the ditch

Beatniks are out to make it rich.

Sang Donovan.  Standards and barriers were down, libertines crawled out of the woodwork nd there stood Mick and Keith, two libertine beatniks who could actually wallow in money.

     Mick took a fancy to Marianne and moved her in.  Married in heart if not in law, but she was to lose her independence.   There was Swinging London or the tail end of it and swinging is what Mick and Marianne did.  However Marianne did not come to Mick as a nameless groupie.  She was a somebody that the fans admired and wanted to get close to also.  Marianne Faithfull, all in capitals.  All that was submerged into the personality of Mick Jagger.  At first her own money was coming in allowing her independence but as her catalog grew old her money had to come from Mick.  Her lost independence  made it impossible to function as a wife and expect a joint account where she didn’t have to ask for money, it was hers by right.  A conflict and contest arose.

When I look over my shoulder

What do you think I see?

Some other cat looking over

His shoulder at me.

And he’s strange, sure he’s strange.

Oh no, must be the season of the witch.

     And the witching got serious.  All kinds of users, abusers and losers followed the libertines out of the woodwork, masters of manipulation they knew how to easily hypnotize whacked out marijuana smokers, cokeheads and general druggies to get them to do various things, sex things, criminal acts, whatever to gratify their evil schemes.  People did things they never thought they would do and fortunately some or a lot them couldn’t remember doing them.  Such a character was waiting in the ether to snare Mick and Marianne.  The movies, ah, the movies, what a way to snare unwary souls.  Everyone wants to be a movie star.

     Donald Cammell, one such, had his nose to the wind and the wind brought the sexual antics of Mick and Marianne wafting his way.  Truly, it was the season of  the witch.

     Cammell had a novie he wanted to make;  Mick and Marianne and assorted friends were just the libertines to bring Performance to life.  Oh no, oh no, must be, must be the season of the witch.

     According to Marianne, Cammell replicated the sex scene the set had had as though he had been there. Uncanny?  Maybe or maybe it was such a far out thing participants talked and word got around and Cammell’s imagination was inflamed.

     According to Marianne the filming brought disaster into  the actor’s lives.  Cammell, the manipulator escaped, of course, as his kind always does.  The pleasure was all his, you may be sure.

     The filmwas a turning point in the relationship of Marianne and Mick.  Perhaps the film stirred memories of when she had been The  Marianne Faithfull, since submergeed into Mick’s identity.  She had been unable to adjust to the new circumstances.  Pentulantly she just walked away.  Immersed in drugs the downslide slow and pleasant became precipitous until she could be found sitting on her wall of the bombed out building not rebuilt as yet.

     Could it be that the remaining wall of that Marianne Faithfull of low expectations was bombed out by the force of a success undreamt of in her pleasant teenage dreaming?  Was that the fascination that kept her glued to the wall in pleasant heroin dreams?  Would Humpty Dumpty fall into the abyss or not?

     This was now the seventies.  Hard realities existed on every side.  It was’t fun anymore either.  The actual season of the witch had passed over.  This was hell.

     After Marianne left Mick drugs are the topic of her converstation.  What is more boring than a junkie talking drugs.  Shoot up and shut up.  Who wants to hear?

     But she did regain her identity,  she had shed Marianne of the little m and was Marianne Faithfull again.  Men sought her out.  Producers came around again, there was still money in that drug wracked carcassof Marianne.

When she walks along the shore,

People pause to greet,

While little birds fly round her,

Little fish come to her feet…Marianne.

     Somehow from that drug drenched state Marianne was able to cobble together enough strength and concentration to begin doing a Mick and Keith.  Maybe her time had not been wasted by the proximity to Mick and Keith.  While still with Mick she had written Siser Morphine, later recorded by the Stones.  She got no writing credit because of old contractual problems with discarded agents but she did receive a third of the royalities which were considerable. 

     And now she began to string words together to make songs.  The stuff was nothing I would ever listen to.  I mean, choice lyrics like ‘Every time I see your dick I imagine her cunt in my bed.’  Maybe that’s  why Dylan couldn’t understand the lyics.  I’m not going to try.  It worked for Marianne though.  Today she’s proudly known as the Edith Piaf of her generation.  I’m happy for her that things worked out for her after a fashion.  Her smile still photographs well but I’m not going to buy her records, CDs, whatever they’re called nowadays.  Time has gone by and I can’t get As Tears Go By out of my head. I’ll carry that tune to my grave.

All night, all day, Marianne,

Down by the seaside sifting sand.

Even little children love Marianne,

Down by the seaside sifting sand.

    

    

 

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