Tag Archives: Rolling Stones

Book Review: “Why Marianne Faithfull Matters” by Tanya Pearson

Why Marianne Faithfull Matters Tanya Pearson

Are you looking at this title and thinking ‘Who the hell is Marianne Faithfull?’ Yeah, well, I’m sure there are a bunch of people also going, ‘What?! Is she still alive?!’ I’m thinking this title works then for both questions.

Author and oral historian Tanya Pearson has jackhammered this riveting bio cum critique into Why Marianne Faithfull Matters (University of Texas Press, 2021), unearthing all that was borne of Faithfull from quirky ingenue to the time and tone-worn cliches of ‘surviving icon’ and ‘legendary chartreuse.’ What gives this book its curbside edge is the gut-busting honesty of Pearson interweaving her personal insight as a gay, drug-addicted woman hell-bent on destroying herself and somehow finding a way out of her own demonic dream state.

Pearson as you can guess is no stranger to the life that Faithfull inherits (and by the way, as of this writing, Faithfull is alive, having survived Covid-19’s devastation and the loss of her music partner Hal Willner). Her piercing dissemenation latches onto your head, shaking sense into how Faithfull (like a lot of undocumented female musicians who lived thru the misogynist atmosphere of the 60s and 70s) got through with just enough breath left in her to continue fighting to this day.

Faithfull’s quirky upbringing and bohemian lifestyle (massaged into her by mother Eva) led to her first big break: ‘As Tears Go By,’ penned by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Stones’ manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. Oldham had been bitten by the beauty of Faithfull and was convinced he could propel her to stardom (past her folk-style presence) just as Brian Epstein had grown and nurtured his stable of stars after The Beatles began their stratospheric ascent.

1964 was just the beginning of a life that Faithfull didn’t voluntarily embrace. As much as noted by Pearson, Faithfull was a product of her times. Not content with her rising status nor well-equipped to handle the circus that put her out for display, Faithfull began the well-labeled and misguided life that has come to represent her public persona: marrying art dealer John Dunbar, having a baby, abandoning her family for Jagger and becoming addicted to heroin.

Pearson weaves her own conflicted identity and addiction struggles as a companion piece, and while this might be off-putting for some readers, Pearson needs to make this point again and again. If Faithfull didn’t have the ‘voice’ to rise above her demons (past the mythology of the drug bust at Redlands or her overdose while filming ‘Ned Kelly’ with Jagger or the explosion of attention for ‘Broken English’), then Pearson has brought her own bile forward to this tale.

Addiction is a vile animal and if you can finally emerge on the other side with purpose and meaning no matter how long it takes, then that life is worth documenting. Pearson has rebuilt her broken past to become someone who documents women in rock and it’s importance for those that experienced and evolved from it. I would agree that Faithfull has lived several lives that aren’t exclusively hers – look at the framework in artists like Courtney Love and Amy Winehouse and make the painful connection: Why were these women publicly vilified for their talents? How did they rise up and yet were beaten down by the male-dominated rock press and where did Winehouse go wrong when Faithfull pushed on?

In many ways, I appreciate Pearson giving us a view that is honest, embarrassing, cringy, brave, head-shaking, and finger-pointing with interludes of hope: Faithfull rose out of alcohol, drugs and ill health and as Pearson was writing at the time, praying to God that Covid-19 in all its stupidity would not take her and that this all would be an extended obituary. Thankfully that was not the case.

I profess to not be a Faithfull devotee and I probably won’t. What drew me into this narrative wholeheartedly was Pearson. Were it not for the overall punch given to how society treats women in the music business, why would Marianne Faithfull matter? Because she holds a microphone and can still speak out loud about her life. In a nutshell. That’s why.

I give this book 4 out of 4 beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Em & Moo: Legacy of a ’60s Female Rock Duo” by Kathy Bushnell


When I put out a request earlier this month for guests for my podcast, I Saw The Beatles, I got an email from Kathy Bushnell, the author of the recently published book – Em & Moo: Legacy of a ’60s Female Rock Duo. After recording a show with her, I was anxious to read her book!

Kathy calls her book a memoir and talks about her exciting life growing up in New York City and how a series of events, including seeing the Beatles play at Shea Stadium in August of 1965 inspired her to become a musician. But she didn’t just become a multi-instrumental talent, she went on to form her own female rock duo that toured Europe. Not just any rock duo, but the FIRST female rock duo in Britain.  Their band, Emily Muff, went on to open for such bands as Yes, Family, Steppenwolf and America and eventually played the Royal Albert Hall in London.

You would think this would be exciting enough to read about, but no. It’s her encounters with the Glimmer Twins – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that makes her story even more dynamic. She first met Keith, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman when her brother helped sneak her into a bar in NYC when she was just 16. She would have run ins with the Rolling Stones several more times after she moved to London after she dropped out of college. And still, the stories don’t stop there…like when one of her flat mates in London tells her he just joined a new band and they’re going to call themselves…Yes!

The great stories never seem to end in this book. I couldn’t put it down. And I doubt too many other readers won’t have the same reaction. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

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Old Beatles News: On The Skids

Last week, I got wrapped up scanning old newspapers online trying to research a topic about The Beatles for some future use. I don’t know what I’ll do with the information I’ve collected on the topic I chose, but it’s now stashed away in a folder should I ever need it.  

While perusing, I came across this wickedly funny article that appeared in the Editorial section of The Post Star in Glen Falls, NY on September 10, 1964. I clipped it and saved it to share with you all…

It’s kind of hard to imagine that anyone in the U.S. hadn’t heard the Beatles music by September 10th of that year considering that The Beatles had already made two visits to America and had toured 25 cities from February 9-16 and August 19-September 20. And let’s not forget that they had already appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show four times. From 1962-63, The Ed Sullivan Show averaged over 12 million viewers and over 14 million in from 1963-64 (there were just 51 million TVs in the U.S.).

The worry over the Rolling Stones was a little premature, I think. It was in July 1964 that the Rolling Stones scored their first #1 song in the U.K. (It’s All Over Now), but they wouldn’t make it to #1 in the U.S.  until 11 months later. In June of 1965, that the Stones hit number one with Satisfaction on the U.S. charts. And truth be told, the Stones were from the upper-crust of London, while the clean cut Beatles heralded from the lower-middle class of Liverpool. Obviously, you couldn’t judge a bad boy musician by the length of his hair…just look at Beethoven or Liszt!

And let’s not even get into trying to compare The Kinks to the Fab Four! I’m just not even going to try to go there…

Anyway…enjoy the article! I hope you get a couple of laughs out of it. I know I did.

Until next time…

 

 

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Book Review: “The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan Leitch

Last week, while I was returning my book about Franz Liszt to the local library, I spotted The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man (2005) by Donovan Leitch on the shelf. Having heard how much so many other Beatles freaks liked his music, I said to my husband, “I’ll give it a shot.”

Donovan Phillips Leitch was born May 10, 1946 in Scotland. He shot to fame in 1965 at the tender age of 19 and is probably best known for his hit single “Mellow Yellow”. By the time he was 24, he dropped out of the music scene all together.

 

 

After getting about halfway through this far out and psychedelic tour of Donovan’s life and his encounters with The Beatles, Rolling Stone, The Who, Dylan, Hendrix, etc., I decided it would be best if I took a new approach to writing this review as compared to my past ones. I’m going to let you, my readers, be the judge.

Here are several quotes from Donovan in this book:

  • Page 88: Talking about being in a suite with Alan Price (The Animals keyboardist) and Dylan – “He (Alan) comments directly to Bob on the Donovan-Dylan comparison. ‘He’s not a fake [Donovan], and he plays better than you.’ Alan was right. My guess is Bobbie would accept that.”
  • Page 98: Talking about other folksingers – “I was the only other big solo success apart from Dylan. His lyrics are without equal in all of popular music, but I think musically I am more creative and influential. I was dynamic, obsessed with developing pop style, creating new combinations, mantras for a questing youth.”
  • Page 102: On this page, Donovan blesses his readers with an entire list of every famous band/artist that has covered his songs.
  • Page 141: Talking of his first use of the drug mescaline – “The trip with mescaline is softer than LSD. Ever so slowly the Paradise appeared before me. I was in the Garden of Eden – no, I was the Garden.”
  • Page 153: When Paul McCartney paid Donovan a visit – “Another song he sang to me was a little ditty with a chorus about a yellow submarine. He was missing a verse for the tune and asked me to get one in there. So I said, give me minute, and left the room. What I came back with was not world-shattering, but he liked it. ‘Sky of blue and sea of green/in our yellow submarine… – Donovan Leitch'”
  • Page 153: Mickie Most was Donovan’s producer – “Mickie Most later said that the music we made in late 1965 and 1966 influenced the Beatles to experiment more adventurously on Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This may well be. I also stirred the Celtic cauldron and encouraged Led Zeppelin to express himself with images and sounds from our Celto-European roots.”
  • Page 165: Talking about two women that moved into an apartment with him and his friend – “Not that we didn’t love the “little darlings.” How could we not, as they floated in and out of bedrooms and bathroom in no more than a top and panties – bath time would never be the same. Not that we didn’t like the variety of meals that were prepared for us…”

At this point in my reading I was just about halfway through the book and that’s when I started to really think to myself – is this guy for real? He’s nothing more than a misogynist with a Napoleon complex! But his incessant bragging and demeaning of women didn’t end there…I forced myself to read on and finish the book.

  • Page 210: While at the ashram of the Maharishi in India with the Beatles, and after teaching John Lennon a new way of finger-picking on guitar – “In this way John began to write in a whole new way, composing “Dear Prudence” and “Julia” in no time flat. John asked me for some help with the lyrics of “Julia,” a song for his lost mother and the childhood he’d never had.”
  • Page 213: While hanging out with Paul Horn in India – “Paul Horn went on to record an album in both the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramid of Giza. Between the two of us, we probably invented what is loosely called “New Age Music,” music that induces a meditative state.”
  • Page 219: Describing a recording session for his album Hurdy Gurdy Man on which Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham all played on – “Layers of guitar were added by Page and Hollsworth, and a new kind of metal folk was created. The term metal had not been coined for music yet, but perhaps Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham were inspired by this session to form Led Zeppelin.”
  • Page 239: In 1968 (after Beatlemania was well underway) – “As I toured I endeavored to improve sound and lights production as well as protect the fans from their own excitement, pointing the way to today’s standards.”

Now, seriously readers…is it just me or does Donovan Leitch think very highly of himself? And apparently there was a glitch in the matrix in the 60’s because at two separate concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, a cop tackled a young girl and fell into the lake drawing laughter from the audience. Twice, Donovan made love to his girlfriend Enid for the very last time.

All I can say is…thank god for Donovan Leitch! Without him, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Flower Power, metal and new age music would have never become popular! I wouldn’t be at all surprise if Donovan showed Al Gore how to invent the internet too! And for that reason,…

I rate this book, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

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Almost forgot to mention…the winner of the $5 Amazon gift card from last week’s contest is: Linda Sherman!

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Book Review: “Beatles vs. Stones” by John McMillian

 Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian was published in 2013, but I just saw it for the first time a couple weeks ago on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.  As I said previously, I rarely pay full price for any of the books I review, so when I went looking for a used copy online, I discovered that there had been another earlier book written on this same topic.  I reviewed that book, The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, last week.  The difference between the two is amazing!

This book is actually a very enjoyable read and I learned a lot about the relationship between John & Paul and Mick & Keith.  They were all actually very good friends from the very start and John and Paul actually wrote the second song The Rolling Stones recorded!  That’s something that I didn’t read in last week’s book… a book that now appears like it was just a pissing contest between the co-authors to see who knew more about the two bands and their albums.

As for my opinion on this topic, both books start out early saying there was no rivalry between the two highly successful British invasion bands.  So why the books?  Because just like the press has always done, they created a rivalry that never really existed.

The book that I think really needs to be written (and maybe it has and I just haven’t found it yet) is The Beatles vs. The Beach Boys.  Those were two bands that used to analyze and look at the dynamics of each others songs and try to outdo each other.  It wasn’t just a pissing contest for first place on the record charts…it was who could write the better song and produce a better album!

Still this is a great book to learn about the relationship and friendship between two of the greatest bands the world has every known.  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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You can get a copy of this book at Half.com for about $0.75

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Book Review: “The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones” by Jim DeRogatis & Greg Kot


I found The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Rivalry  while looking online for another book I had seen in a bookstore about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I rarely will pay retail for any book I read for Beatles Freak Reviews since this site makes no money (it’s just a hobby), so I was slumming the virtual used book sites. When I saw this book, I guess I wondered why the world needed two books on such a non-topic and decided to pick up at $2 used copy.

This book is filled with some great pictures.  And if you were to purchase it for no other reason than to use it as a coffee table book, it would serve its purpose well. But as for content, it’s pretty much just two guys comparing their own personal opinions on which band, and their guitarists, bassists, drummers, drug usage and double albums are better. The authors even take on the topic of which band had the most publicized drug bust! I really don’t think either band was trying to top each other in that instance (but I’ve been wrong about these things before).

Personally, I don’t think there ever was a rivalry between these two bands, but that’s a topic I’ll hit on next week when I review the other Beatles vs. Stones book I bought with this one. And to leave room for next week’s book to suck even more than this one…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

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If you’re interested in adding this book to your collection,used copies can be had for less than $2 on Half.com.

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