F is for Marianne Faithfull

Wednesday 27th May

Marianne is one of the true survivors from the sixties.  This is my own potted remembrance of her and I have resisted resorting to Wikipedia.  We first heard of her as the girlfriend of Mick Jagger, though rumour has it that she slept with both Mick and Keith, who knows – she doesn’t talk about it.  She had been educated by Catholic nuns and was very young and startlingly beautiful; one of her parents was Russian I believe.  She recorded a single ‘This Little Bird’ or maybe it was ‘As Tears Goes By’ and it got into the top ten.  She had a husky and quite deep voice and we all assumed she had only been able to make the record because she was Mick’s girlfriend.  Then in ’68 I think she was arrested on a drugs charge, as the press would have it, ‘wearing nothing but a fur coat and a Mars bar’, but she has always denied this story.

The she split with Mick, or as we heard Mick slung her out.  She recorded a handful of albums of other peoples songs, pretty poor cover versions really.  Suddenly she was in a film “Girl on a Motorcycle”, a European art movie which was pretty unforgettable except when she unzipped her leather top to reveal her glorious breasts – that image stayed with me for a long time.  Apparently she fell into drugs badly and at one time was begging in Soho for money for Heroin with all her possessions in plastic bags.  Then in the Eighties came her redemption.  She somehow managed to get a brilliant band together and recorded “Broken English” with its explicit lyrics and great songs.  Since then she has gone from strength to strength and is one of the few artists who does exactly what she wants; sometimes recording with new young artists, sometimes a classic rock band or quiet haunting ballads and she has even turned her hand to recording Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins.  Her concerts are renowned and she still tours occasionally, especially in Europe.  In a funny way, artistically at least, she has eclipsed the Stones, as they rumble on playing their old hits and nothing new, she is still releasing new and interesting records.