I went to see Marianne Faithful last night which gives me an excuse to run the above photos, two of my favorites, and some clips, including the only watchable parts of the otherwise awful flick Girl On A Motorcycle (1968).
The show was great. Hal Wilner has put together an excellent band for her, including a small string section that allowed her to do “As Tears Go By” in its original arrangement.
She did lots of material from her new LP, one of those superstar duet jobs that I’ve only heard a few tunes from, I really liked her version of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” (which she sings with Keith Richards on the record). Anyway, the live show included a great version of Sister Morphine that allowed guitarist Marc Ribot to really shine. I kept thinking how great it would sound if Quine was up there with him (Quine played on her Strange Weather LP). Anyhoo, here’s the original version of Sister Morphine if you never heard it (with Ry Cooder on guitar), the Stones’ covered it note for note on Sticky Fingers, even giving themselves the songwriting credit on the original pressings of the LP. I’ve always loved this tune which appeared as a single on Decca (U.K. only) around 1970 when she was living out the lyrics. I might as well throw in a couple of other early Decca era tunes that I like and you might have missed–here’s her version of Leadbelly’s Black Girl (later a hit for Nirvana), and here’s Is This What I Get For Loving You, a record I’ve owned since I was seven years old and drooling over her on Hullabaloo (clip below) and Shindig. If you’re not totally burned out on Rolling Stones related reading (I was going to to an entire posting on Stones’ books since I buy and read ’em all, but does anyone actually care at this point?), her
1994 autobiography Faithful (with David Dalton, Little Brown) is a classic, right up there with Anita O’Day’s High Times Hard Times (with George Eells, Putnam, 1981) in the she-junkie literary canon. Anyway, Marianne Faithful may not look like she did in the sixties but as a performer she’s actually stronger than ever, her voice, originally a breathy, clear, alto, emerged at the end of some hard mileage so fragile and cracked that it used to sound like it her vocal chords would snap mid song. These days her voice is a surprisingly strong and flexible instrument. It still sounds like she gargles with broken glass and whiskey, but it’s a voice that has served her well through four decades and four million cigarettes. By the end of a 90 minutes set her pipes was still strong enough for her to deliver her final encore acappella. Marianne Faithful, from her Ye-Ye girl roots to today’s weathered pro, reinvented herself the hard way, ya got to love her for that.