Sunday, March 29, 2009

Marianne Faithful

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.
Thanks to Mary Lee Kortes, Eric Ambel and Hal Wilner for getting me to leave the house on a Saturday night in NYC, I can't even remember the last time I went out to see music in this city on a Saturday night.


ht said...

fantastic post made even better by the captcha: "bunbaby"

J.D. King said...

Coincidentally, I've been on a Marianne kick the last week or two, which in turn always leads to some Francoise Hardy and Brian-era Stones.

james said...

ever read "up and down with the rolling stones?" brian taught mick and keith everything, and then they stole his girl. brian was an amazing instrumentalist, but had no confidence in his songwriting. brian did have some amazing stuff on tape, but he was so stoned and drunk, he destroyed the tape. brian destroys brick with with Rolls Royce.

Donna Lethal said...

Marianne once accidentally cut me in line and I didn't realize it was her until she said "Oh excuse me" in that amazing voice. I was going to see her BAM that night and we sat at a juice bar on Houston. It was surreal.

Mark said...

My favorite part of Girl on a Motorcycle is when she's up on the ladder in the bookstore, and the guy says "I'll come back for that later." She really emotes when she's riding that bike, too.

jneilnyc said...

I've been kicking myself since missing her show, especially since this clip pretty much smokes anything I've heard from her in years:

Let's Hear It For The Orchestra

Let's Hear It For The Orchestra
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