Another Magazine Issue 20
Interview by John Paul Pryor
Spring/Summer 2011*Please note that this is a shorter version of the interview that was in the magazine, the interview was so long It would of been too much to put in one post but if you would like the rest of it then just leave a comment and I will write it up for you , enjoy ...
You can’t help but wonder which of many incarnations most defines her. The 17 year old virginal songbird? The suicidal lover Mick Jagger? The leather clad babe of Girl on a Motorcycle? The resurrected junkie pariah of Broken English? Or the highly respected role model who won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Women’s World Awards in 2009? Meeting Faithfull, you realise she has calm sphinx at the eye of this storm of constructed identities.
On the eve of the release of her latest album, Horses and High Heels (recorded with legendary jazz musicians against the backdrop of desolation and blood red sunsets that is New Orleans), I spoke to the ever rebellious 64 year old about the wasted energies at the heart of the 1960s party scene and putting your faith in the mythology of the blues.
Well, I’m nearly 64. I’m very interested in all that stuff.
The Old House is a particularly beautiful song about mortality. Did (Irish playwright) Frank McGuinness write it for you?
I wanted him to write something on there. He’s almost like a part of myself- he knows the things that get me, such as my parents being very important. He actually sent me his ideas as poems, because what he does for light relief is knock out poetry: it’s his form of relaxation. He sent me several good ideas but the one I really wanted was The Old House.
In some cultures they say you’re not really an adult until your parents have passed on..
I didn’t know that, but that’s the problem really. It’s so sad when they’re gone, because there is nothing else like them ever again, but when they are alive it feels like such a life and death struggle and it’s either you or them.
Yeah, I have a very good dream life-very vivid. I didn’t ever have the experience Keith did-dreaming of (I can’t get no) satisfaction and then actually waking up and putting it down on tape- but I do develop ideas in dreams.
There were lots of radically conceptual rebels in your 60s milieu weren’t there? In those times the scene seemed more about exploration and scorning convention , not bling and excess.
Well, I am still like that. I haven’t changed. I am afraid I kind of belittle our rebellion in the 60s though. Love is not all you need, although you do need it, and I now wonder just what the hell we were fighting for. Was it just to legalise pot? I think it was. It was just a fight for long hair and drugs, which was a real waste of these enormous energies. Actually the baby boom thing was a turnaround- we could have had real power but we wasted it. You can see Tony Blair and Gordon Brown . They are some of the only politicians that come from the 60s and they blew it, especially Tony Blair.
Do you think one of the things about the 60s party scene that was so different from today was the innocence? Keith Richard’s writes in his autobiography that you and Anita Pallenberg gave Brian Jones more LSD to bring him down off LSD...Oh, you know Keith is so funny about that- talking about us as these two deadly nurses :”You need more Brian! Take more!” I mean, we were crazy. Brian was somebody that who, should never have taken LSD. I feel very bad about that. We had been on it for three days already- no harm y’know? We were flying but we didn’t get that it’s just not for everybody.
When it goes bad it goes really bad?
It depends what’s inside, and Brian had bad stuff inside. I don’t really understand about his childhood, but whatever it was, it must have come out of untruths and lies. Some parents do that to their children.
You sample his recordings with The Master Musicians of Jajouka in the song Eternity. Do you believe in an eternal soul?
Oh, I do, I do , of course. I am probably rather like my dad, you know? I am not religious but there are a lot of things that speak to me: William Blake, Shakespeare, Meditation...
I am very interested in the Rapture , to a point. I find it fascinating, and I do directly know the experience in the lyrics of demons crawling all around my room, I know that very well. I cannot say I am a Christian but I think Mark’s (Lanegan) song is bigger than that: the Rapture is bigger than that.
As someone who has lived through so much, what do you think attracts human beings to the mystery of self –destruction/ Does going through that experience make you stronger?
Yes. But I have to tell you that my self –destructive impulses are never far away. I have to keep a watch on them all the time, I really do, or they could still get me.
What was it like to lose everything at the tail-end of the 60s?
It’s never gone away. I lost everything-my child, my lover, my life, my house, and all my money. It was a huge shock. I had to build everything from there. It’s unforgettable, that feeling.
Do you think the way the media presents things is geared towards keeping people at a low level of consciousness?
Yeah , I do, and anybody really clever threatens that. Especially if it is a woman. I was talking to somebody about Polly Jean Harvey. People can hardly cope with her because she is so brilliant, and a girl. They asked me about her and I told them a piece of information that nobody knows, which is that when Ian Stewart (Original member of the Rolling Stones ) died Polly Harvey inherited his record collection: the greatest blues collection in the world. Simple. She couldn’t help but be Polly Harvey. I had Mick and Keith’s record collections to play with. How could it not work? I didn’t know at the time. It’s only as I have gotten older that I’ve realised what a gift I had been given, and learned to really draw on it.
Do you believe in the mythology of the blues?
I believe it . I believe it more and more...
Is Marianne playing Lilith in Kenneth Anger's short film Lucifer Rising.