There has always been something almost pleadingly vulnerable in her face: the expression of someone who finds the world inexplicable.She made me feel that we should care about her, that perhaps she couldn’t care for herself well enough.It became clear that she was driven by demons she could no longer tolerate, and it is well known that from this point Faithfull’s life spiralled downwards into drug addiction, living on the streets, suicide attempts and the loss of custody of her son.All of which is a salutary tale to tell at a time when the hopes of my generation – that feminism would give women a clear view of their worth, and ways to sift the kind of sexuality that is rewarding from that which is horrifying – are close to being dashed.Yet there she was, a luminously beautiful fledgling kicking off adult life when everything was in flux, with flower power and women’s lib making the weirdest bedfellows.Political protest and popular music coalesced in sexual yearning: make love, not war; don’t trust anyone over 30; turn on, tune in, drop out. It was tricky for many of us to work out where we fitted into this new world, and never more so than when it came to sex, which seemed to be a leitmotif running through everything.One night he made a pass at me, which was not what I had in mind.I remember, even now, the way he curled his upper lip into an intimidating sneer when I told him “no”.
This may not seem to have much to do with Marianne Faithfull, the limpid-eyed, fragile beauty, with her pillowy pouting lips and her aura of rampant sexuality.
It doesn’t surprise me to learn that Faithfull carried this weight in her young years.
It may be why I felt drawn to her in a way I never did to the other pop star wives and girlfriends – Pattie Boyd, Anita Pallenberg, Angie Bowie, Linda Mc Cartney.
Yet in Faithfull’s tale we see that growing up can be the key to finding a way to live that does not require one to perform for others when it feels wrong.
In her fifties, she says, she found that she had put sufficient life and learning between herself and her mother’s influence that she could love and enjoy a physical relationship – without being under the influence of anything, except the pleasure of being who she was and where she was from choice.