Monday, 30 May 2016

Hope, and Marianne Faithfull

Yesterday we did the long drive to Scotland - the land of wide horizons, untamed landscapes and Mr SM's forefathers.

Thanks to the modern miracles that are Bluetooth and Spotify, #1 and I have created a new tradition for road trips.

She plays me the latest 'yoof' tunes (I like to imitate my own parents by rolling my eyes, harrumphing and saying you call this dreadful racket music? While secretly enjoying it).

I then play her my favourite songs from my own 'yoof', a few of which have made it to hallowed places on her iPhone playlist.

One of these, which we were listening to yesterday, is Marianne Faithfull's Ballad of Lucy Jordan.

I idolised Marianne. Marianne, with the face of a fallen angel, and the voice that smoked a thousand cigarettes.

I always saw myself as a rebel (see my post: Rebel Without a Cause), and Marianne was the Queen of all Rebels, who all we wannabe rebels knelt down to and worshipped.

While I might get myself arrested after finals for being drunk in charge of a bicycle, Marianne was arrested during a drunks raid while tripping on acid with Mick Jagger, naked and wrapped in a fur rug.

(She has always vehemently denied the oft repeated rumour that there was a Mars Bar involved).

As we listened to The Ballad of Lucy Jordon, the story of a housewife who, on realising that she'll never achieve her dreams, goes crazy and is carted off in an ambulance (to hear it click here), I thought about how addiction strips away hope.

At the age of 37
She realised she'd never ride
Through Paris in a sports car
With the warm wind in her hair....

Marianne battled many demons.

She spent much of the 1970's (having lost custody of her son) living rough in Soho, an alcoholic and heroin addict, with anorexia thrown into the melting pot.

By the 1990s, she'd managed to quit the drugs, but was still drinking, despite being diagnosed with Hepatitis C, and then breast cancer (see, we have so much in common!)

Interestingly, while I visualise my demons as the 'wine witch', Marianne sees hers as 'Marianne Faithfull' - the public persona.

She says It is actually my name. It is me. But it hasn't felt like me for a long time.

What has happened in the past 10 years or so, and what has been my goal for as long as I can remember, is to bring me and Marianne Faithfull into some semblance of harmony.

It was her doing drugs and drinking, her inside my head, so it has been tough. The Fabulous Beast, that's what I call her.

Marianne's story, and the fact that even she, finally, beat the Fabulous Beast, and is now completely sober, and - she says - happier than she's ever been, shows that you should never be Lucy Jordon.

Never relinquish hope.

(One of her favourite quotes is from William Blake: The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, and perhaps Marianne has finally made it there.)

And it is never too late to ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in your hair. At 37, 47, or even 87.

I'm going to book the tickets, and #1 wants to come with me...

Love SM x


  1. Hi SM, another thought provoking message, thank's never too late to be the you you'd hoped to be,,,or certainly never too late to try...and exciting if not a little scary knowing you have so many options.......hope everyone having a good week.x

  2. I love Marianne Faithful too. Really interesting to hear what she says about her public persona here. I think many of us have identity issues around drinking and they aren't always addressed in the mainstream conversation about addiction etc. Thanks for this. And I hope you enjoy Scotland! xo

  3. Spent a lot of my decade in the music industry trying to emulate my favorite musicians. They were all junkies. Good thing I could never move beyond alcohol. Perspective.

  4. I don't know where you are in Scotland SM but the weather here in the West is wonderful. Hope you are as lucky. Great post. Never too late to make dreams come true if we try hard enough. Have a great holiday!

    1. I'm in the Borders WoS, and it's a glorious sunny evenings as I sip my green tea ;-)

  5. Have fun in Scotland!
    I remember Marianne Faithful, but I never knew of her troubles.
    I do love Paris! We have been there twice, but no sports cars!

  6. I LOVE this song SM, reminds me of Thelma and Louise - they were kick ass girls like marianne. Enjoy scotland xx

  7. ps can we have your full track list please?! xx

  8. Have fun in Scotland SM! Sounds like fun! A x

  9. I loved Lucy Jordan as well and somehow identified with her but knew that that would never be me, namely 37, unfulfilled and psychologically unwell! Hah! Just a few years out that's all!
    Marianne Faithfull is so interesting and tragic and one more embodiment of addiction and intergenerational trauma. Her voice was so full of sass but she was such a brittle being. It is a great song to sing loudly in the car! I always thought she committed suicide at the end rather than being carted off. I'm glad you told me that as it is a little more hopeful!xx