1960’s Legends—Do You Remember?

Not too long ago I saw two separate interviews on TV of two of my idols from the 1960s—Pattie Boyd and Marianne Faithfull. I was in my teens when these two English ladies ruled the world in hipness, coolness and having the most sought after boyfriends on the planet—George Harrison and Mick Jagger.

Back then, both had the mod 60’s look down pat—skinny, long blonde hair with bangs, doe eyes with black makeup and the hippest clothes going. But imagine— a Beatle and a Stone as boyfriends. Oh, unimaginable to this Southern Alabama preacher’s kid. I wondered, what did they talk about? How did they act? What did they do on a normal day? They were only a few years older than I—how did they handle it all?

Well, not all that well it would seem. Both are in their 70s now and have suffered greatly from past drug addiction, health problems, and the effects of over-indulgence in the wild life of a rock star’s girlfriend.

But wait. Obviously I don’t know either of them, but when I watched the interviews I was struck by some differences between the two in how they came across, despite similar lives and experiences.

Two Crazy Wild Exciting Lives 

Pattie, as you may remember, met George Harrison on the set of a Hard Day’s Night, and they got married shortly thereafter. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Later on she scandalously left George for Eric Clapton, also known as God to 60s music aficionados. She was the muse for the songs, Something, Wonderful Tonight, and Layla. She was sweet, cute and not too bright (her nickname was Batty Pattie), according to legend. Both George and Eric seemed to get tired of her.

Marianne was famous for hooking up with Mick while still a teen—after making her way through all the other Stones—and had her own music career with one memorable hit, As Tears Go By. She was the quintessential angelic looking bad girl. She seemed to hold her own with Mick until she fell into addiction. She was the muse for Wild Horses and Sister Morphine.

Interviews Give Away a Lot

Pattie and George back in the day

In watching the interview with Pattie, I didn’t at first know who she was. She looked familiar but seemed to have had so much plastic surgery her face was unrecognizable. (Not judging having surgery, but one must be aware that people draw conclusions if it’s excessive.) She still had her long hair and kept flicking it nervously. She was stiff, appeared uncomfortable, and I was struck by how ill-at-ease she seemed with herself. She didn’t seem to enjoy being interviewed and refused to dish on any of the rock stars she had known. Hey, I wondered, why so careful? What have you got to lose? The interview was so boring I flipped the channel.

Marianne, on the other hand, was easily recognizable, just older. She seemed totally un-self-conscious, cracked jokes, and laughed a lot. She was bawdy and funny and not afraid to say what she thought. She had fun stuff to share about Mick and the Stones. Her voice was husky from years of smoking. 

marianne faithful, mick jagger

Marianne Faithful and Mick Jagger circa 1960-something

I was riveted. She had made a singing career for herself after Mick, and despite many setbacks, always seemed to rise from the ashes. She was thoroughly enjoying herself—owning who she was, wrinkles and all, without living in the past. I wanted to have coffee with her at some cafe in London. 


Darwin’s Take

Charles Darwin famously said that the number one survival trait was adaptability.

The ability to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.

How adaptable are you? How flexible? Are you able to adjust to the ongoing and never ending changes in life? Getting older? Not looking like you used to? Not able to do all the things you used to? Kids growing up and becoming independent? Moving to another location? Retirement? How well do you adapt?

One way of testing yourself is noticing how often you complain. Complaining is about not being able or willing to adapt. Something is not going as you would like it to, so you complain about it. Traffic in town. The weather. Neighbors moving in next-door who are noisy. Knees hurting. Workmen not fulfilling commitments. Yada, yada, yada.

Is this you? Be honest, because if it is, then perhaps you are not adapting to life. You want life to adapt to you. The result of this attitude is that you may gradually give up on life as you get older. And the danger is you become rigid in both body and spirit, uncomfortable in your own skin, inflexible, and grumbling about everything to everybody. All the traits we associate with getting old… and that most of us want to avoid.

We associate youth with being flexible, adaptable, changing what can be changed and accepting what cannot. We associate old age with being rigid, intolerant, wanting the world to adapt to you.

Lao Tzu said, The stiff and unyielding are the companions of death, while the yielding and tender are the companions of life.

60’s Icon #3—You’ll Never Guess 

So who is the third 60’s icon? Well, none other than Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Keith is in his 70s now and looks 95 from years on the road, being an incredibly famous rock star and legendary guitarist, not to mention unabashed consumer of almost every illegal substance he could get his hands on.

He is the subject of a new documentary on Netflix. Watch it. He’s a treat.

Keith totally enjoys life, has a wicked sense of humor and laughs at himself and how craggy he looks. He’s still out there touring with the Stones, and in his leisure time enjoys his family and playing music with some of the most famous musicians on the planet. Everybody loves him.

Towards the end of the film he is asked about getting older and how he copes with it. He laughed and said, “Well, nobody wants to get old. But then, nobody wants to die either. So I guess the answer is, you just gotta roll with the punches!”

Adaptability. At its finest and most fun.

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