Marianne Faithfull 521.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Talking to Marianne Faithfull is like entering a smoky Jacques Brel netherworld
oozing of raspy, weathered-voice elegance.
Once the pin-up dream of the
1960s mod scene, Faithfull has evolved into a stately but still staunchly indie
and edgy interpretive singer, a piquant character actress and a worldly bon
vivant who has survived the ravages of rock ‘n’ roll life.
paramour of Mick Jagger laughs with hoarse vigor when asked about the 1960s
drug-fueled escapades described by Keith Richards in his autobiography
“I just loved it. I thought it was very good,” said the 64-year-old
Faithfull from her home in Paris. “I do think he went a little too far, though.
And he even admits that himself.”
Faithfull certainly went a little too
far during her younger years after her initial collision with fame that saw her
reach the top of the charts with her version of The Rolling Stones’s “As Tears
Go By.” The result was addiction to narcotics, homelessness and a prolonged case
of laryngitis that permanently altered her voice from a pristine chime into
today’s distinctive husky tone.
Re-emerging in the late 1970s with a
second chance as a new wave priestess, Faithfull rebuilt her career with the
landmark 1979 album Broken English. And like fine wine, she’s matured with age,
despite recent health battles with breast cancer and hepatitis C. Younger
rockers have attached to her like a magnet, with the likes of Beck, Billy
Corgan, Jarvis Cocker and PJ Harvey jostling to appear on indie pop albums like
2002’s Kissin’ Time, 2005’s Before the Poison and 2008’s Easy Come, Easy
For her most recent release, Horses and High Heels, Faithfull
continues to keep one ear to the edgier side of the road with versions of Greg
Dulli and Mark Lanegan’s “The Stations” and forming a band anchored around the
raunchy guitar work of Lucinda Williams’s axe man Doug Pettibone.
also sprinkles the set with interpretations of some pop classics like Carole
King’s “Goin” Back” and Allen Toussaint’s “Back in Baby’s Arms.”
always loved Dusty Springfield’s version of ‘Goin’ Back.’ I think it’s the
best,” said Faithfull of the song that has been covered by everyone from The
Byrds to Nils Lofgren. “But I thought that I could give it a twist and introduce
some changes to make it my own.”
To help her, Faithfull recruited famed
producer Hal Wilner, who also manned the helm for Easy Come, Easy Go. They
decided to record the album in New Orleans, where she invited friends like
Dulli, Lou Reed and Mac (Dr. John) Rebennack to join her, resulting in what she
describes as a “pure pop record that was really fun to make.”
not exactly a New Orleans vibe, even though we did use some local musicians. Mac
has some great rock ‘n’ roll boogie woogie piano in there, but we weren’t trying
to make a New Orleans record, we were making a Marianne Faithfull record,” she
added, joking that it was the food that attracted her to the city.
asked Reed to perform on the album because she’s a fan – particularly of his
“He’s a very old friend of mine, and I think he’s a
fantastic guitarist, something that he doesn’t get a lot of credit for. He did a
really wonderful solo on ‘Back in Baby’s Arms,’” she said.
While her last
appearance (of many) in Israel at the 2008 International Women’s Festival in
Holon featured a primarily acoustic, stripped down band, the Pettiboneled combo
accompanying her when she returns to the country on October 18 at the Zappa
Shoni Amphitheater in Binyamina is going to be an all-out rock ‘n’ roll
“It’s such a great band, and I love working with them,” she
said. “I’ve never really stopped being a rocker. I did one album of standards,
but this is so much fun. I keep on writing and performing because I still
enjoy it but also because we have to do something. After all, life is