I have a pretty nice gash in my left hand from when my friend threw me into the side of a car last weekend. That night, we also stole a bunch of those vodka energy drinks, set off some fireworks in the park and piled into a ladies bathroom to, you know, gossip. Then I woke up totally depressed because even a decent party night like that would be a total snoozefest to a legendary fun-hound like Marianne Faithfull. What's extra depressing is that she spent several decades engaging in deeper and deeper levels of debauchery while maintaining an aristocratic grace and releasing absorbing albums like Broken English and Twentieth Century Blues.
She's now a still foxy—if slightly wobbly—sixtysomething, and Faithfull has embodied every cinematic tradition of the high life. She came from weirdo roots (a child of European cognoscenti, her father was a utopian thinker, her mother a baroness, her great-uncle the author of Venus in Furs and coiner of the word "masochism") and evolved through drama-heavy personal relationships (partner of Mick Jagger, pal of Anita Pallenberg) and a serious drug haze, which included the infamous Rolling Stones drug bust and a period of homelessness. Though her affiliation with the Stones (and propensity for covers and collaborations) means that her own work might have been disregarded by the systematically sexist music industry, the unusual, Nico-with-a-personality nature of Faithfull's singing and songwriting mostly won out. Of course, anyone with such a drive toward epic self-sabotage is compelling, and Faithfull's persona has definitely overruled her work, but ultimately her musical pursuits are inextricable from the emotionally concentrated, fairy tale-like circus she's lived through, which of late includes grandmotherhood and a cancer triumph.