Marianne Faithfull: The Great Rock & Roll Survivor
One of the most infamous It Girls of the Swinging London era — and a singular musical talent in her own right — the ever-forthcoming songstress, 67, is back with a new photo book and her 20th album, ''Give My Love to London''
Both the new album and your new book, Marianne Faithfull: A Life on Record, reflect on a pretty remarkable life. Do you consider yourself sentimental?
Actually, the book [which features a foreword by longtime admirer Salman Rushdie] was put together by my manager. He’s the one who’s kept everything. I don’t! I live in the moment. It doesn’t mean I can’t look back, though. One of my favorite songs [on Give My Love] is ”Love More or Less,” and on it I say, ”I look at everything that I’ve done/The days, the years, the hours/Life it don’t overcome/It just opens like a flower.”
You’ve worked with everyone from the Rolling Stones, obviously, to Beck and Cat Power. Do they make rock stars like they used to?
My whole life I’ve been working with great musicians, from ”As Tears Go By” [her 1964 breakout co-penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards] onwards. And I’m working with Roger Waters on the new album. I’d call him a rock star, wouldn’t you? Damon Albarn’s definitely a rock star! And so is Nick Cave. But they’re not quite as… The misogyny is not so bad.
Did you encounter that a lot?
Well, just the whole thing of being considered a chick on the arm of a great rock star is an insult to me. But at the time, you have to remember, a lot of girls wanted to be where I was, for some weird reason. But yes, I’ve got to really make sure that people understand that I’ve been writing and thinking about what I’m saying for years now.
Do you stay up on what’s happening in pop music?
Not at all. No, no, no. No. I listen to the same music I’ve always listened to, which is basically the blues. I love jazz, I love soul, R&B, Little Richard — yeah, there you are. And occasionally somebody gets through to me. I love the new Leonard Cohen, Damon Albarn’s records, Nick Cave’s records. But I’m not interested in pop music or celebrity at all, no. I had enough of that very early on, didn’t I? Didn’t last long. I got very bored very quickly with that.
That kind of exposure could be tiring.
Oh, it’s horrible! Absolutely horrible. I can understand it if you don’t have anything else you can do, for instance. Like, the Stones can’t do anything else, can they? All they can do is be the greatest rock & roll band in the world, and that’s what they are. I don’t think they’re doing it for the f—ing publicity, do you? I think they hate all that.
You were famous for having a very pretty voice, but you seem to have embraced how it’s changed with age.
Of course I have! What else could I do? I liked when it changed. It was the voice I needed to say what I wanted to say to make [seminal 1979 comeback album] Broken English. It wouldn’t have worked with my little voice at 17, if you know what I mean. [Laughs]