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Faithfull: An Autobiography Paperback – June 6, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Early in this engrossing if somewhat disturbing autobiography, rock 'n' roll star Faithful remarks, "The ony way I could handle being on tour with all these weird people was to treat it as a sociological study." This approach aptly describes her dissection of her own life as well. Faithful is more analytical, ironic, self-scrutinizing and literate than most celebrity autobiographers. Writing with Dalton ( Mr. Mojo Risin' ), she depicts with penetrating insight the world of "free love, psychedelic drugs, fashion, Zen, Nietzsche, tribal trinkets, customized Existentialism, hedonism and rock 'n' roll" that absorbed her energies from the beginning of her singing career as a teenager in 1960s London. From her tumultuous four-year relationship with Mick Jagger through her descent into junkydom to her "comeback" in the late '70s as a punk-rock diva, Faithful embodies rock culture at both its most glamorous and most destructive. A self-described "victim of cool," she is nevertheless a tough (and often astutely feminist) commentator on the underside of the rock 'n' roll dream. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
A searing autobiography by one of rock 'n' roll's most tragic and romantic figures. A descendant of Austrian novelist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the beautiful Faithfull was discovered by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Oldham in 1964 and became an instant pop celebrity with her recording of the brooding ``As Tears Go By,'' a song Oldham asked Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to write for her. In a short time, Faithfull had become an internationally famous music and movie star, but she had little control over her image or artistic output. With the aid of rock biographer Dalton (Mr. Mojo Risin': Jim Morrison, the Last Holy Fool, 1991, etc.), she describes her struggle against the passive ``Angel Doll'' persona foisted on her by the press and her relationship to the Stones, especially Jagger, for whom she left husband John Dunbar in 1966. A dark romanticism- -what she calls a ``Walter Pater aestheticism,'' replete with flashes of everything from astrology to black magic--pervades the narrative, which is chock-full of encounters with pop legends (John Lennon is ``amusingly cruel''; Allen Ginsberg ``has never been hip''). Faithfull, who's had her own share of same-sex dalliances, suggests it was sexual tensions among the highly repressed Stones that gave them their manic energy: ``Who was the great love of [Jagger's] life? Actually, I think it was Keith.'' The tone is both compelling and pathetic as Faithfull details two decades of drug abuse and numerous lonely attempts to escape her addiction. From watching a lover commit suicide to recent singing and acting successes on her own terms, Faithfull has lived enough for three or four people--yet she is only 47. Despite some trite prose (``Things were happening so fast and we were changing with them''), this holds greater interest than any other recent book about the Stones and their circle. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Faithfull sometimes comes off like a princess, but she more often seems like a wise sage, and perhaps the smartest person to have ever come out of the Stones camp. Her earliest memories are recounted at the beginning, along with some interesting tales of her eccentric parents (amazingly, her goofy British father is even more extreme than her Austrian mother, a haughty but penniless aristocrat).
The book is full of great anecdotes, like being on tour in the UK with Roy Orbison (who expected her to jump in with him), and a young Graham Nash when he was in the Hollies ("even I had enough sense to not be with him"). There are long descriptions of various trips and other mental journeys ("Sleep was out of the question. I lay down on the bed, but found that when I shut my eyes I could see right through my eyelids."). There's nearly a whole chapter about meeting the hip young Bob Dylan on his first visit to London, when he held court with the Beatles fawning at his feet, and fools like Donovan were mocked mercilessly. She describes being on tour, with Jimmy Page and Jackie DeShannon romping next door (Page had been a session man on "As Tears Go By" - "He played on almost all my sessions in the sixties. He was very dull in those days"). In 1965 she was on tour with a bunch of bands, including the Mannish Boys, whose lead singer was a young Bowie. Faithfull devotes most of the chapter "What's A Sweetheart Like You..." to a description of her first meeting with Bob Dylan, which happened just after she found out that she was pregnant and had gotten engaged to John Dunbar. Rejecting Dylan's advances, she gets into an intellectual discussion with him that sounds very Dylanesque:
"How can you take a guy who wears glasses seriously," she quotes him saying. "Only undertakers and college professors and grandmas and people who can't even see what's in front of their noses wear glasses. He's an intellectual jerk, that's the worst kind of jerk there is."
Ha ha ha... They meet again a few more times, later on to discuss her album Broken English song by song. Slowly, she slips into the Stones' orbit, first by being with Brian, then Keith, and eventually Mick, with whom she stays several fateful years (during which she provided the inspiration for several songs, also co-writing at least one song). Faithfull has great descriptive passages in her text about the Stones:
Where Brian [Jones] was soft, malleable, vague and unstable, everything about Keith [Richards} was angular, flinty, compact, hard, disctinct. The hatchet face, chiselled, rock-hard features, Indian scout's eyes that bore through everything. The mysterious rider appearing out of nowhere. Hypnotic, sinister, disturbing. A cursed-by-fate intensity, set off against gorgeous clothes, self-mocking humor and a sardonic turn of phrase.
Later, in the photo captions, she describes Keith again: "Bourbon to hand, switchblade in his boot, guitar across his back and the law at his heels - Keith Richards is rock 'n' roll." Mick she describes in many different ways:
There is quite a perverse side to Mick and it's no accident that his anguished relationships produced some great songs. Mick is so grounded as a person he never loses his footing. He can be right there next to the person falling off the edge but not slip himself. For a songwriter, this is a very useful talent. He is able to observe the car crash at the moment of impact and escape unscathed - a quality that is extremely exasperating for the victims. I always envied Keith and Anita because they looked into the jaws of death together. It was never like that with Mick and me.
She has her fun with Mick. "Like Ronald Reagan, he had learned to play a character more copmlex than his own." Ouch!! "The most indelible misconception to come out of Let It Bleed was the silly notion of Mick as the disciple of Satan. A devotee of satin, perhaps," and she describes the origins of "Sympathy for the Devil" in Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, which the well-read Faithfull had given Jagger a copy of. There's a hilarious encounter between Jagger and the Labour MP Tom Driberg:
"My dear boy, we wouldn't expect you to attend to the day-to-day ephemera of the House. Not at all. We see you more as, uh, a figure-head, like, you know..."
"The Queen?" said Mick, completing his sentence.
What a scream. the conversation is full of "funny chat and zinging questions", but when it founders, "in an awkward moment of silence Dribert looked at Mick's shorts and suddenly said 'What an enormous basket you have.'" Oh la la!!!
This was all happening around the time that Eric Clapton was giving Jagger guitar lessons (?!?!).
She recounts the weekend that she and Jean de Bretueil went to Paris and he sold Jim Morrison the dose that killed him (some sources claim that he had done the same thing for Janis Joplin!). They ran for Morocco. "Jean saw himself as a dealer to the stars. Now he was a small-time guy in big trouble. He was very young. Had he lived, he might have turned into a human being."
Faithfull describes her life on the street in London, living on top of a bombed-out wall in a squat, and how she found some sort of truth there, eventually pulling herself out to resume her musical career, and possibly going straight eventually. Here the story starts to peter out, as celebrities like the Rolling Stones seldom show up, and Bob Dylan only makes an occasional appearance (Dylan never forgot their first encounter, and their reunion is peculiar. "I idolized Dylan, but to be idolized by Dylan is a very different thing... an unnerving thing. Terrifying, really, as if the Minotaur had taken a liking to you."). But in her new phase, we somewhat un-grounded as we no longer know or understand her co-conspirators. But her description of her remarkable life is always strong and fascinating, if somewhat maddening, tragic and pathetic as she makes herself a burden on friends, family and state. But she still does have several great anecdotes in her, such as the one of getting blotto with the Von Bülow's, and trying on shoes from Sonny's staggering collection. "I passed out and was found lying on the bed wearing pair number 57." She appeared in a documentary with Robert Michum, who gave her a classic movie era screen kiss in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, and eventually became a grandmother. "Oscar looks just like me and therefore is the best thing ever." And that's that.