memories, dreams and reflections by Marianne Faithfull

A refreshingly fun read as Faithfull veers from praising high art to prizing high heels, and occasionally, ponders just being high.

memories, dreams and reflections

Publisher: HarperPerennial
Length: 336 pages
Price: $16.95
Author: Marianne Faithfull
Publication date: 2009-08

Marianne Faithfull's memories, dreams and reflections is her second memoir, and the release of this paperback edition coincides with the release of her 21st album, Easy Come Easy Go earlier this year. That record is a collection of cover songs, duets, and collaborations with a wonderfully varied group of talented, unique, and sometimes unexpected artists such as Sean Lennon, Antony, Rufus Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, and Keith Richards. The book is quite similar, actually, in that it reads like a collection of conversations about Faithfull's lifelong collaborations with other wonderfully unique friends, lovers, and artists such as Lady Caroline Blackwood, William Burroughs, PJ Harvey, and Gregory Corso.

memories, dreams and reflections shares a similar title with Carl Jung's famous "autobiography" detailing how he came to his particular insights into the human psyche, which are now the basis for most modern psychology. There is little doubt that this was intentional on Faithfull's part, as, while waxing nostalgic and telling intriguing tales of celebrity cohorts, she is also providing revelatory insights into her own unique psychology. The motivations behind certain choices she has made in her life seem to be of as much interest to her as she writes of them as they will be to readers, and she is clearly versed in the concepts, terminology, and literature necessary to thoroughly analyze herself. In fact, she is obviously very well-educated and exceedingly well read. Her casual references to, and quotes from, all manner of history's poets, philosophers, and playwrights throughout the book prove her to be more than just the wanton woman wrapped in that rug at Redlands, more than the rock courtesan, junkie chanteuse, and chain-smoking muse of her popular legend.

That's not to imply that she doesn't discuss that side of her past here. There are still plenty of inside Stones' stories and Beatles tidbits, though there isn't as much focus on her relationships with Mick Jagger and others as there was in 1994's Faithfull. Several of the more interesting and perhaps lesser known remembrances she shares here involve the Beats. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso founded the Jack Kerouac of Disembodied Poetics, which was associated with the Naropa Institute. Faithfull taught lyric writing at the school and relates a wealth of fascinating tales about the magnificent genius and mad goings-on of her fellow faculty members.

She also talks about her films and theater work, her recordings and touring, her home life and long time partner Francois, her battles with addictions and with cancer. Short sections of scattered recollections replace chapters and chronology, and it's refreshingly fun to read as she veers from praising high art to prizing high heels, and occasionally, ponders just being high. Not only does she display her intellect, depth, and wide-ranging interests, but she is astoundingly witty. Faithfull's prose is beautiful and breezy and her humor is deliciously wicked as she jumps from one topic or person to the next in the same way that a friend might say, "Oh, and that reminds me of ... " while telling you of her holiday adventures.

Of course, Marianne Faithfull's everyday adventures are beyond anything most people will ever experience. We can't all lay claim to living with Henrietta Moraes, or be embarrassed at being let go by Roman Polanski for the part of Lady MacBeth. We don't get to witness Cher singing a cappella for Donatella, and we -- thankfully -- don't get cursed by Kenneth Anger. Although she is aware she has lived an exceptional life, and she freely admits an addiction to decadence: "I don't do much that is decadent in my life. But I still am decadent. It's a state of mind", Faithfull is often still surprised by the fact that strange and wonderful things continue to happen to her. She's also surprised by the endurance of that fanciful and usually false image of her as some sort of depraved and declining deity. Her reputation as a fallen angel even took a humorously morbid turn in 2000 when a story about her carried the headline "'Sixties Star in Death Plunge!" Her high fashion footwear fetish caused a terrible tumble down some stairs, but the papers had her on a decadent deathbed.

Fortunately, Marianne Faithfull is still very much alive. She lived through the '60s and the several decades since, she was tested with tragedy, and she has bested breast cancer. She survived sex, drugs, and rock and roll and she has survived herself. She ends her fabulous memoir rather abruptly with the thought that she "may be around for another 20 years". That's a very heartening thought, and one would hope it means Marianne Faithfull will have more memories dreams and reflections to share in that time.






The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.