A good new interview with Marianne Faithfull
apropos an art exhibition at Tate Liverpool she's curating, together with her first husband, John Dunbar. (Some paintings from the exhibition
.) I've been recently rereading some biographies in which Marianne, Dunbar and the Swinging London art scene show up a lot (Groovy Bob
by Harriet Vyner about art dealer Robert Fraser, Barry Miles' Paul McCartney biography), and it's always a bit of an odd sensation when you encounter various characters from said biographies alive and well as contemporaries still very much continuing their life story.
(Also, I have an admitted soft spot for evidence that people get along well with their exes instead of feuding with them or being on non-speaking terms, even if they are complete strangers whom I only know via their records and biographies, so the idea of Marianne Faithfull and John Dunbar putting up this exhibition together appeals to my inner sentimentalist.)
More on an amused note: someone vidded Live and Let Die
to show Peter Wingfield's "transition of a young leading man in the UK to the 'bad guy of the week' in American tv", making a point about how British actors are used. Aside from enjoying the mixture of Peter Wingfield footage with Paul McCartney's voice and music, I have to say that being a German, my sympathy for British actors and their typecasting in Hollywood is a tad limited. Seeing as our lot are getting even more typecast and have been since decades. (One moment, you're a dashing leading man of German films; the next you're Major Strasser in Casablanca
...) I would say the ultimate fatal combination dooming an actor to an eternity of villainous typecasting is to be both German and British, except, well: Michael Fassbaender. Who is of Irish and German parentage and currently making a career of beating the odds. All due to the Celtic heritage?
Incidentally, another example of Hollywood-meets-Brits clash would be the anecdote about Life and Let Die
George Martin tells in his memoirs. So: early 70s, the Beatles are dissolved, but not that long ago. Paul gets a commission for the title song for the newest James Bond film, and in their first post-Beatles cooperation, his old producer orchestrates and records it for him. (Sidenote: the fact that George Martin did the occasional post-Beatles project with Paul but not with the other three may or may not support John's accusation that Uncle George had a favourite.) After the producers, Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli and Harry Saltzmann, had heard it, I got a call from Harry's assistant, Ron Cass, saying that they would like to meet me. (...) (My) first meeting with Harry was straight to the point. He sat me down and said, 'Great. Like what you did. Very nice record. Like the score. Now tell me, who do you think we should get to sing it?' That took me completely aback. After all, he was holding the Paul McCartney recording we had made. And Paul was - Paul. But he was clearly treating it as a demo disc.
I don't follow. You've got Paul McCartney...,' I said.
'Yeah, yeah, that's good. But who are we going to get to sing it for the film?'
'I'm sorry. I still don't follow,' I said, feeling that maybe there was something I hadn't been told.
'You know - we've got to have a girl, haven't we? What do you think of Thelma Houston?'
'Well, she's very good,' I said. But I don't see that it's necessary when you've got Paul McCartney.'
Perhaps I was being a bit obtuse. The fact was that he had always thought of a girl singing the lead song in his films, like Shirley Bassey in Goldfinger, and Lulu; and whoever it was, he wanted a recognisable voice rather than Paul's.
As gently as possible, I pointed out that, first of all, Paul was the ideal choice, even if he wasn't a black lady, and that, secondly, if Paul's recording wasn't used as the title song, it was very doubtful whether Paul would let him use the song for his film anyway.
Oh brave new world. Actually given that Paul McCartney had written songs for female singers repeatedly in the 60s (notably It's for You
for Cilla Black, Goodbye Love
for Mary Hopkin, and arguably Let It Be
for Aretha Franklin who was allowed to record it before the Beatles did), I don't think Harry Saltzman's assumption was entirely due to the tradition of letting the title song of a Bond movie be sung by a female singer. But what the ever tactful George Martin doesn't mention in his memoirs was that at this point in the very early 1970s, Paul between pummelled by the critics, blamed by the rock media for the break-up and underperforming in the sales (compared with his earlier and also later successes, that is) needed a resounding personal success. Which Live and Let Die
, as it turned out, most definitely was. (He still plays it at his concerts.)
Sidenote: there are are limits to George Martin's tactfulness, mind you. All you need is ears
, the memoirs I was quoting from, is from 1979 (which also is important in that anything written and published before John Lennon's death doesn't carry the baggage of said death and the radical change of public status for John that came with it). Now, in more recent interviews (more recent meaning anything from the 90s onwards), George Martin repeatedly stated remorse about neglecting George Harrison as a composer due to being entirely focused on the two main songwriters of the group. This remorse is nowhere evident in 1979, where, with only a decade apart from the Beatles days and the other George alive instead of dead, he's still less than impressed by George H's efforts. Typical quote: "Again, George's contribution, 'Within You Without You', was, with all deference to George, a rather dreary song"
(note the "again"
). And then there's his assessment of the group and his own role as producer of the Beatles near the end of the book, where he talks about the most debated point of all: "I must emphasise that it was a team effort. Without my arrangements and scoring, very many of the records would not have sounded as they do. Whether they would have been any better, I cannot say. They might have been. That is not modesty on my part; it is an attempt to give a factual picture of the relationship. But equally, there is no doubt in my mind that the main talent of that whole era came from Paul and John. George, Ringo and myself were subsidiary talents. We were not five equal people
artistically: two were very strong, and the other three were also-rans. In varying degrees those three could have been other people."
Moving on from the 60s and the survivors of that era: I might not be a Games of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire
fan, and I do think later Tyrion is a good example of why authors should not fall in love too much with their characters, but there's no doubt Peter Dinklage's performance in the tv version has been one of the standout highlights. Here is a terrific new interview and profile
of him, which also deals extensively with the challenges, to put it mildly, a dwarf actor faces in the industry.
, in which pre-series D.I. Lestrade meets pre-11th Hour
Amy Pond. Delightful, and very in character for Amy and Lestrade.