Music

The Lady with the Cigarette

Marianne Faithfull: Still Amazing

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Marianne Faithfull

Thurs Dec 5

Aladdin Theater

Jarvis Cocker wrote a song for Marianne on her newest record, Kissin Time, called "Sliding Through Life on Charm," which was based on her autobiography. Set against a twinkling backdrop of disco beats and rock guitar courtesy of Cocker's regular band, Pulp, the lyrics have her essentially reflecting on her life--a life that has played out like a gritty storybook of drama, pain, and ultimately, triumph. "Go ahead, why don't you leave me to these thugs?" she sings, "and creeps who want to fuck a nun on drugs?" She ends with, "I wonder why the schools don't teach anything useful these days / Like how to fall from grace / and slide with elegance from a pedestal I never asked to be on in the first place." It's sung, of course, with the crackled cigarette voice of a woman who has seen it all, but will NEVER be broken--even by a world that still largely remembers her as the lady who acquired a heroin addiction after her break-up with Mick Jagger.

But Marianne's whole story is one of rebirth. Miraculously, after she kicked the drugs, her voice became this pure, raw instrument of strength, a low and husky conduit for all she had overcome, transforming from the gorgeous, delicate folksinger into one of the most spiritually powerful figures in music. Even more compelling is that, while Marianne Faithfull has arguably been through more hell than any other musician of her stature, the woman still glows.

Which is another reason why Kissin Time feels so fresh and intimate. Aside from having the maturity and history to back up every single lyric and emotion on the record, Marianne got some of her own favorite musicians to write music for her, or co-write it with her. Marianne interprets a mélange of folk, rock, and even dance numbers, penned by Cocker, Billy Corgan, Blur, Dave Stewart, and Beck. They're all good--even the Billy Corgan ones--and she sings with a majestic euphoria to her voice. An inspiring example of perseverance, Faithfull is a reminder that context, content and intent are just as important to music as the ability to write a tune. With Kissin Time, she sounds so sweet and fulfilled, you actually feel proud and happy for her, cause finally, she fucking won.

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