You’ve got to feel for Marianne Faithfull. At the age of 17, she was snapped up by the Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham merely for being “an angel with big tits” and shoved at the Stones. She churned out some blandly alluring pop records but was most famously Mick Jagger’s girlfriend and muse. When the police raided Keith Richards’ Redlands mansion in 1967 as its occupants concluded an epic acid trip, they claimed they found Faithfull wrapped in nothing but a rug with a candy bar inserted in her vagina (Richards debunked this myth in his 2010 book Life).
She co-wrote the tellingly titled “Sister Morphine,” only to see the Stones wrest control of the song and release it, without crediting her, on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. By the end of the ’70s she was homeless, living in an abandoned building in London. It was a fate once unthinkable for a woman so beautiful and sexual that still images of her alone created a media sensation and who directly influenced one of the most significant bands of her generation and place.
But Faithfull got the last laugh.
Given the opportunity to cut another album, she turned in the raw, confessional Broken English; an unflinching narrative of what it was like for a glamour model and pop star to find herself an addict living on the street, all backed by understated yet fashionable musical accompaniment. The Stones of this era were singing about “Some Girls,” and this was first person reporting from one they’d cast off.
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