November 11, 2009
Famous Groupies Of The Sixties Series
Faithfull: An Autobiography
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.
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.
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
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.
November 13, 2008
Conversations With Robin
Robin Mark and R.E. Prindle
Well, you know, the river just keeps right on a flowin’ and you have to stay afloat but the bozos in Washington just don’t seem to have a clue and they’re so cynically dishonest. Eighty percent were against the bailout but they said we had to have it or the world would end yesterday. Now the bailout has gone away. first there was a bailout, then there was no bailout.
I thought both Obama and McCain were genuninely crazy to want to step into Bush’s shoes and I hope Obama gets what he’s got coming.to him before I get mine. The Commies have to be stopped this time; twice was enough of that bull roar.
But to turn the radio back up. Have you read any of Miss Pamela’s latest: Let’s Spend The Night Together? she interviews twenty-four groupies mining their minds for golden memories.
As super Presley buff you’ll want to read the first chapter by someone called Tura Satana. Taught Elvis nearly every thing he knew. How to kiss, the whole works. Came to her as a country bumpkin and left as The Sheik. Funny I haven’t heard you vent on her before.
And then a Catherine James invents the most improbable story about Dylan you’ve ever heard.
Elvira makes her guest appearance with some more info on Elvis that sounds like it might be as true, at least, as a Hollywood movie.
It’s kind of a kiss and invent book but Miss Pamela is her usual charming self. Get’s a little gruesome after a while though, but, Hey, here it is 2008 and they’ve all survived. Even Miss Mercy. Carazy mama but she’s got a few more tidbits on Elvis. Did he ever have an interest in a Memphis area club called Hernando’s Hideaway?
Those girls did get around but the question is what can they actually remember? It makes you wonder how Jimmy Page ever had a spare moment to practice guitar.
Good luck with your school. We’re a long way from the bottom yet. It amazes me how few people understand how far its fallen and that it is absolutely impossible for it to bounce back. For crying out loud the Faller has barely gotten ‘Timber’ out his mouth already.
I pity those poor Liberals who’ve finally gotten their wish. Now what are they going to do with General Motors. There is no forgiveness in my heart for them.
November 10, 2008
Let’s Spend The Night Together
Pamela Des Barres
Review by R.E. Prindle
Des Barres, Pamela, Let’s Spend The Night Together, 2008 Chicago Review Press
You make my heart sing.
You make everything,
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
For tomorrow brings but sorrow,
The girls that are so sweet today
Will be mothers-in-law tomorrow.
Pamela Des Barres having apparently exhausted what appeared to be an inexhaustible fund of rock n’ roll memories returns to the publishing fold with a whole book full of other groupies’ memories. She introduces some twenty-four supergroupies to tell their back stage secrets of rock gods.
If you’re into titillating sexual stuff you’ve just found the Dutchman’s lost gold mne. For those into this stuff Cynthia Plaster Caster is pictured fondling the immortalized member of Jimi Hendrix. At least we know that one’s true. However some of the memories recorded seem to be sort of stretchers to me. Making a good story better is OK but pure invention is something else.
I did catch one of the girls, women, mothers-in-law, almost all grandmothers, in a fabrication or, shall I say, a delusion. I don’t want to be unkind because the lady in question, Catherine James, did time in the orphanage while having one of those mothers from hell. I can sympathize, a double whammy like that can do things to you. I had a number of issues with my mother, who has now gone to her greater reward wherever that may be, while she too put me in the orphanage. So, as I say, I can sympathize.
Well, Miss James says she quit the groupie game in 1971 at the age of nineteen while she began at age thirteen. That would have made her beginning in 1965. As she tells it those six years were eventful enough for any busload of wayward girls.
As I read my eyebrows kept going up. This was too amazing, it seemed, to be true. After reading her chapter I put the book down while my eyes were spinning around in my head. Then I began going over the details looking for that fatal flaw. As there was no way I could contradict her stories based on her revelatory details, I would have to examine dates and when I did I found that flaw. Not gentlemanly, but I do have that inquisitive mind that just won’t be satisfied. As it happened the flaw involved the ‘spokesman of his generation’ Bob Dylan.
Miss James says that she met Bob, as I gather he was the first, at thirteen. As she tells it Bob gave her some good soul saving advice about her mother; otherwise she might have been driven mad. I can dig that, too.
But there was a problem with that. Miss James lived in the LA area. She says she met Bob in California between the recording of Bob Dylan and The Free Wheelin’. That would probably have been about the time Bob was heavy with Suze Rotolo in NYC. At any rate in ’62 Miss James would have been about ten years old not thirteen.
Miss James who has extraordinary faith in the art of cosmetology believes that at thirteen she could make herself up successfully enough to fool a guy into thinking she was minimally legal. That alone seems like a mega stretcher to me. But what are cosmetics going to do for a ten year old?
Quite clearly Miss James could not have met Bob when she was thirteen in LA. She would like to have met Bob and gotten that good advice but she couldn’t have.
Making a good story better she compounds the delusion by saying that still at thirteen she made the pilgrimage to Greenwich Village to be with Bob. In an interesting dream sequence she describes arriving in NYC broke, not unlike Bob, with no place to stay. Talking to some young people in the Village she told them she was there to visit Bob. Naturally this admission was greeted with snickers. But, lo and behold, who should drive up to the street corner at that instant but Bob himself. She ran over to greet him. He rolled down the window to say he was off to a concert and drove away.
As I say I don’t wish to cause Miss James distress and I’m sure she ins’t any less truthful than any of these girls, women, mothers-in-law, but much of this stuff requires that extra grain of salt.
The opening chapter concerning the adventures of someone called Tura Satana and Elvis requires some documentation. But, why go into it. As Samuel Johnson said who but a blockhead wouldn’t write for money. I presume that Miss Pamela would like to see a nice fat royalty check. Lord knows Frank Zappa left Miss Pamela short when she was a member of the GTOs, so buy a copy if you like this stort of thing and make that ageing Wild Thing’s heart sing. She’s got it coming, believe me.