Why Marianne Faithful Matters, By Tanya Pearson, 180 pgs.

Jul 20, 2021

I know almost nothing about Marianne Faithful—which, Tanya Pearson explains in her stunner of an entry to the University of Texas’s “Matters” series—is typical. Pearson says that “gender continues to be used as a tool to build a revisionist history that excludes women.” And she doesn’t just say this, she demonstrates it, she illustrates it, shouts it, bringing example after example both from Faithfull’s long career and Pearson’s own time in academia to help support her thesis. Pearson, who directs the Women of Rock Oral History Project, states that she has noticed in the course of conducting interviews, that successes happen due to “a willingness to take chances and accept opportunities.” Despite following a similar organic path to where she is today, the conversation around Marianne Faithfull continues to be in the context of men or through the male gaze: Faithfull, if discussed at all, is usually mentioned only as being pretty or in the context of dating Mick Jagger, not for her willingness to take chances as an artist or for her catalogue of albums. I’ve read a bunch of these Matters books, but this one, more than any other, made me reconsider not only Marianne Faithful, but the whole infrastructure of the star system and rock criticism—seismic stuff. A great read. –Michael T. Fournier (University of Texas Press, utpress.utexas.edu)