Faithfully yours

The legendary Marianne Faithfull will stage an all-out rock ‘n’ roll assault in Binyamina.

Marianne Faithfull 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
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.
The former paramour of Mick Jagger laughs with hoarse vigor when asked about the 1960s drug-fueled escapades described by Keith Richards in his autobiography Life.
“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 Go.
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.
But she 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.”
“I’ve 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.”
“There’s 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.
She asked Reed to perform on the album because she’s a fan – particularly of his guitar playing.
“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 assault.
“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 long.”