The Books You Need to Read This Book
Faithfull: An Autobiography by Marianne Faithfull with David Dalton
miss josh emmett
Although she repeatedly denies it, Marianne Faithfull is, indeed, a product of convent schooling plus her own extra reading. It is wonderful that she knows really big obscure words and speaks several languages. However, most people are not as lucky. Therefore, I would suggest that before you begin this book (I’m writing about the hardback version that is copyrighted in 1994), you gather these books to go with it:
1. An unabridged dictionary
2. Italian/French/Latin-to-English translators
3. Mythology 101: From Gods and Goddesses to Monsters and Mortals, Your Guide to ancient Mythology
4. The Zodiac Bible: The Definitive Guide to the Zodiac
5. Devils, Demons and Witchcraft
6. A coffee table book of the paintings of the greatest artists of all time
7. A compendium of poets and their works
For most of the book, one wonders if this is an autobiography of Marianne Faithfull or a biography of Mick Jagger. Once she sees him, although she is not interested at first, she becomes obsessed. He is never far from her thoughts. She believes every song was written about her or by her and, as his muse, she is responsible for the fame The Rolling Stones have enjoyed for over 50 years. Thank goodness she came into Mick’s life! Of course, she, also, gives full credit to Keith Richards, the man she truly loved and should have married (or was it Anita Pallenberg she truly loved and should have married?) and it becomes a bit confusing.
Her memory is full of contradictions. She loves clothes shopping, she “was never really into clothes”, she loves clothes shopping. She loves sex, “I hate sex”, she loves sex. (As a side note, in 2014, Marianne said in an interview that Mick was her only love but she hated having sex so much she had to let him go. She does write in the book that they had little sex after a certain point and just spent the time together in bed reading newspapers and books, it is just that bed is the most comfortable place to be. She didn’t mind Mick getting sex from others (male and female)…oh, wait! Yes she did!) (Brian Jones told Mike Douglas that “all the boys like Mick” (look it up on YouTube), so she might have been influenced by that as well.)
She devotes two sentences, one each in different parts of the book, to the loss of her and Mick’s child. How she really felt is left unknown but the act of miscarriage is a good excuse for why she needs to be left alone and do drugs.
Yes, we are left to feel sorry for Nicholas Dunbar, her son, and Brian Jones (whom she should have just lost custody of along with Nicholas).
Marianne often writes in various languages to explain her motivations and feelings. She doesn’t bother to translate any of these. They are not the ones we all know, like Miss Piggy’s infamous moi. They are not commonly known phrases like hoi polloi (us commoners…). And they are liberally sprinkled throughout her writings, and passim is used in the index. Maybe you are familiar with this term but I was not. It means here and there or another translation would be: “Mick Jagger is on most of the pages in my book!” She skips around, timeline-wise, as she remembers things, but does let you know when she actually remembers a date. Thank you.
But let’s get to the drugs. They are Marianne’s life and always will be, even when she clean and sober on occasion. Miss Faithfull truly believes that we will buy the fact that she remembers conversations she had, in their entirety, in the 60s. The woman says that the Small Faces were over often, yet she calls the bassist, in the text and the index, Ronnie Land. It is Ronnie Lane. Although I’m sure she did live on a wall for a period of her life, I get the feeling that much of what she writes is what she wanted to happen to her and she has wished for these things so hard that, at a certain point, she began to believe they truly happened. At this point in her life, fact and fiction are one and the same. Just a ‘for instance,’ there are photos of Mick and Marianne in India with The Beatles and their wives/girlfriends, but she says she and Mick went alone. One does tend to believe that every man wants to have sex with her because, in my opinion, she is ‘available.’ She constantly writes about how bold she is and how she states her ‘made up’ opinions quite boldly, even thought she admits that she made up stuff to go with her belief that we all are incarnations of gods and goddesses, so why not talk about it. She, also, admits that Mick never wanted her to be interviewed alone! No surprise there. Then she says she is so painfully shy, that she spent days sitting in a corner on the floor just adoring Bob Dylan, never saying anything. (They did, finally, have a conversation…or…by the end she had made up in her drug-induced mind that a conversation had taken place. And that, years later, he made a point of finding her because he thought about her all the time.) She tries to tell us (or is that herself?) that the drugs did not affect what she said but then blames them when she said things that genuinely hurt others (“Oh, so sorry. I was on drugs and didn’t know what I was saying. And besides, it was ages ago, so they shouldn’t be quoting me now anyway.” Her explanation of everything she told A. E. Hotchner for his biography of Mick Jagger). Should she have married Gene Pitney? Or Roy Orbison? Or any of the other men she said she had sex with? I think not. And, besides, she only married men she hated, like Ben Brierly who, by the time she married him, she loathed. And she does pass out tips, like, the best place to find men is in rehabs and institutions even they end up committing suicide over you; picking up men and taking them back to your country when they don’t speak the language are easier to dump if you give them 10 pounds and a note in English for the taxi driver; and a chicken recipe (which I have on good authority is quite delicious). (Alright, spoiler alert, Pitney ran away from the bed because it was too cold.)
I, honestly, believe that Marianne Faithfull does not want to be clean and sober. She worships drugs. They bring her fantastical worlds to live in and leave her with no responsibility for what she says or does. She is a woman who has found a place for herself in this world and should be left to live in it. Yes, about page 200 you can become a bit depressed reading the rest of book…or…you can jump into her world of “Mick Jagger, Mick Jagger, Mick Jagger but I love Keith Richards” and just go on a trip with her. The reading is interesting if you realize that the book should be filed under Science Fiction/Fantasy instead of Autobiographies.
And, no, I didn’t bother to look up tatterdemalion, you’ll have to do that yourself.