Marianne Faithfull

Easy Come Easy Go

From the moment Marianne Faithfull growls the first line "I know this dress I’m wearing doesn’t hide the secret I have tried concealing", you know you’re in for something more personal than your average covers collection. Faithfull’s appeal is vast, encompassing the old and the new, the informed music geek to the middle Englander being drip-fed what to listen to via GMTV and Saturday nights, spanning generations and enveloping demographics in her outstretched arms. Though at worst she could be described as a ‘heritage artist’, more fairly Marianne Faithfull is an iconoclastic National treasure and beloved performer. There may be some overlap with the people who will rush to the supermarket to buy Ronan Keating’s forthcoming covers record of songs for his deceased mum, but this isn’t really for them. I’m not denying for a moment that Keating didn’t love his old dear, but where that project will undoubtedly revel in its own mawkish banality, here we have something more considered, with a carefully chosen cast hand-picked to get the best out of the material selected.

Marianne’s rasping contralto is a joy to behold, commanding and yet fragile and sometimes painfully evocative. It sits astride the musical accompaniment allowing the flavours of these songs to emanate. For anyone battling to give up cigarettes, be warned, listening to her lament with that Dietrichian rasp makes the fags sound that little more appealing. The filthy weed and the experiences of time have ravaged Faithfull’s voice, and for the better. It brings to mind the famous instance where an editor requested to airbrush Audrey Heburn’s face which she refused, saying ‘I’ve earned every one of those wrinkles.’

And what of the songs? Mick Jagger aside, Marianne Faithfull has always had exquisite taste, and so it is reflected in her choice of songs and musicians. Easy Come, Easy Go brings together an eclectic list of songwriters, from Dolly Parton to the Decemberists, from Merle Haggard to Morrissey, but it is her pervading presence that knits the whole thing together so well. Each song is delectably delivered, always graceful, never crass. It could be argued that there are too many songs here, and the project could have appeared as one disc rather than two, but I’d contest that, for each track holds up to scrutiny.

A quick glance over the sleeve notes to find out who joins Faithfull on Easy Come, Easy Go should leave you aghast. Nick Cave, Marc Ribot, Keith Richards, Rufus Wainwright, Jim White, Warren Ellis, Antony Hegarty, Sean Lennon, Jarvis Cocker… the list goes on. Experience and heartache are represented in this collection, but ultimately Easy Come, Easy Go is an uplifting experience, a testament to a love of life and to friendship. The message is clear: triumph over adversity is possible, and because of that, this is an album for our times.

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today