There are three women on the planet who could discover a cure a cancer, and yet their eulogies would dwell on the famous men they happened to sleep with decades earlier.
Yoko Ono, Joan Baez and Marianne Faithfull have all enjoyed successful careers in their own right, but no interview is complete without a reference to, respectively, John, Bob and Mick.
Here are some highlights of a lengthy chat with Marianne on the heels of her new release Kissin’ Time, a collaboration with youngsters like Beck, Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker and the oldster David A. Stewart. We spoke just outside the entrance to the old Virgin Records building in Beverly Hills because they wouldn’t let her smoke inside.
At the age of 55, she was millions of cigarettes and lines of coke away from the beauty who transfixed Mick Jagger and the other deities of Swinging London. Still, you could (with difficulty) avert your gaze from her bounteous bosom, bathe in her icy blue eyes and be transported to that time.
DO YOU WATCH THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS IF YOU HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO ON A SUNDAY NIGHT?
No, I’m very, very not like that. I have got the platinum record for Rock and Roll Circus at home, hanging on my wall, and I like it. It’s lovely, it’s a lovely artifact and it did very well. I’ve seen it. I saw it when they were cutting it, a lot. I used to go up to Allen Klein’s to see it, and then when they found the lost bits, that was very exciting. And I saw them for the first time years ago. I knew it was great, it just took a long time to come out. I’m very glad it’s come out.
YOU WERE STUNNING, EVERY GUY’S FANTASY
I was very pretty, I know.
WELL YOU STILL HAVE THAT ALLURE, THAT JE NE SAIS QUOI. AS YOU GET OLDER, DO YOU STILL FEEL SEXUAL?
Oh yeah, but I do feel safer, because I am older and I have got a life and I have got a partner (her manager, Francois Ravard, whom she declined to identify at the time). I don’t feel so exposed. I don’t feel like I’m going to be hit on all the time.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN A DRAG HAVING GUYS’ TONGUES DROP TO THE FLOOR ALL THE TIME?
I didn’t actually notice it. It all went right past me! It’s only sorta later I realized it. I think the first time I realized it was when I saw the film of Hamlet. It took my breath away, and I didn’t see it until 1976 by which time I was a punk. And I just had forgotten completely or wiped it out or something because it was hard to deal with that, being so pretty or beautiful.
DO YOU WORK OUT?
I swim and I walk. I don’t actually work out, as such. But I do swim. I swim about three times a week. I go up and down stairs. I live at the top of this flight of stairs. I kind of prefer to do things that are connected to real life. Actually working on the treadmill, I have done it, but I think it’s very boring. I prefer to walk into Dublin, or walk around Portobello, or walk somewhere, or to do something.
DO YOU FEEL THAT TIME IS RUNNING OUT?
No, but I may not want to do this forever. I’ve always been very ambivalent about being a rock star, about the whole thing. There always were other things I wanted to do. I don’t know how long I can go on working this hard.
WELL, YOU’RE NOT DIGGING DITCHES
Oh, no, I’m certainly not. I’m doing very well.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? PAINTING, WRITING?
No, not really, very simple things, like make enough money, buy a house and have a garden. That’s about it.
YOU DON’T OWN YOUR OWN HOUSE?!
No, I don’t own a thing! I have nothing.
SO HOW CAN YOU AFFORD TO MOVE AROUND?
I have enough money to do that.
DO YOU GET ANY ROYALTIES FROM ANY OF YOUR OLD RECORDS?
The only one I really get, funnily enough, is money from “Sister Morphine”! (The Stones track she co-wrote with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards). No not really. I got one royalty check from Island (Records); I never got another. This is all stuff that will have to be dealt with as soon as I can afford it. It all has to be audited. But the way it works in a record company is that I have to pay for that. So I need actual spare cash to do that. In the meantime, I’m really much more interested in just getting on with my work. But there is going to have to come a time of reckoning where all these people have to open their books.
WHAT ARE YOUR AIMS FOR KISSIN’ TIME?
I don’t know. I’m just really pleased with it. It would be nice if I could reach more people … The range of age groups (at her concerts) is extraordinary. I think that the younger people like my work more than my peers (do). Fond as I am of Mick and Keith and Bob Dylan and all that, they’ll never see me any other way except as a rather beautiful, very silly girl. Keith has even said that. ‘To me, Marianne, you’re just a silly little girl.’ And that’s how it’s always going to be, and I understand that. When you know people very well and you knew them at a certain point in your life, they’re always going to see you like that. I still see him (Keith) as this dashing, handsome cool guy. I don’t see what other people see. Also with Mick, when I do see him, which isn’t that often, if we’re even in a remotely private situation we can just sit down and talk like no time has passed. And it’s really nice.
DID YOU SEE THE MICK DOCUMENTARY BEING MICK?
I just like the way he did it, and I thought it was true. It’s exactly what I would say too, that he is a bohemian and he is like that and there we are, and there’s nothing wrong with it… I was quite pleased with it. Obviously one is pleased when one’s old friends can be themselves, and be understood as themselves a little bit, and I thought that documentary helped that.
NOTE: Unrelated to the above interview, my gossipy rock bio Strange Days: The Adventures of a Grumpy Rock ‘n’ Roll Journalist in Los Angeles is available here. For more info, go to strangedaysbook.com
Copyright © 2002, 2013 by Dean Goodman. PLEASE DO NOT CUT AND PASTE THE WHOLE THING