As the singer prepares to release her 21st album, we look back at a singular career marked by creative restlessness, personal troubles and triumphant reinventions
If you’re looking for a study in contrasts, you could do worse than compare the two albums released this autumn with Marianne Faithfull’s name on the cover. The first is Come and Stay With Me, a collection of her 1960s singles that opens and closes with two Rolling Stones-related tracks: the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards composition As Tears Go By, and Sister Morphine, co-written by Faithfull and Jagger while their relationship was in its death throes. The second is Negative Capability, a meditation on loss, grief and loneliness recorded in Paris last winter with the Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis and PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis. It also contains a version of As Tears Go By, but there the similarities end. Thematically and sonically, it could be the work of a completely different artist to Come and Stay With Me. Given how often Faithfull’s personal life has overshadowed her music, it is worth noting the artistic distance she has travelled in her career – further than a lot of her more regularly lauded peers.
There was a time when the notion of either of these albums existing would have seemed like a joke. Faithfull’s musical career was not expected to last more than 50 years, nor was it supposed to have the kind of weight that might still interest people decades on. It wasn’t supposed to have any weight to it all. Andrew Loog Oldham, the Stones’ manager who spotted her at a party and launched her career as a vocalist, dismissively described her as “an angel with big tits”. As she later recalled, she was “treated as somebody who not only can’t even sing, but doesn’t really write or anything, just something you can make into something … I was just cheesecake really, terribly depressing”.Continue reading...
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