Marianne Gabriel Faithfull was born in Hampstead, London in 1946. She began her singing career at the age of eighteen in 1964 as a folk performer. She got her first big break whilst attending a party that year that was being held by The Rolling Stones. Whilst at this party, she was discovered by the band’s manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Oldham, along with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote Marianne Faithfull’s first major release titled “As Tears Go By” which was a massive success. After releasing several more successful singles, she and Mick Jagger entered a highly publicized relationship.
After this relationship ended in 1970, Marianne Faithfull’s life and career took a turn for the worst. After losing custody of her son, she became a heroin addict and ended up living on the streets for two years. She also suffered from Anorexia. Despite attempts from friends and peers to help her, she still continued to suffer with addiction throughout most of the next decade and spent much of it in obscurity. Her drug use and heavy smoking even affected to the sound of her voice, which became much deeper and cracked sounding. Although she produced her first album of new material in a decade in 1976 with the country album Dreamin My Dreams, it was not until 1979 that she had a true career comeback with the album Broken English. An album that saw her embracing the then-contemporary sounds of the punk and new wave movements, to this day it is considered to be Marianne Faithfull’s definitive release.
As Marianne Faithfull entered the 1980’s, her career may have been revived but she was still having a lot of trouble in her personal life with ongoing addiction battles. She would produce several more albums throughout this decade, including Rich Kid Blues in 1985 which was a combination of both new and re-recorded songs. In 1987, after finally getting completely clean, she produced the album Strange Ways of which she wrote none of the material. It became her most critically lauded album of the eighties.
In the years since, Marianne Faithfull has continued to be a successful and popular artist. She has won many accolades and is considered to be one the greatest female rock singers of all time.
# 10 – Come My Way
In 1965, Marianne Faithfull released two versions of this song: one from her second album of the same name and the other from her US only release titled Go Away From My Life. Both versions are great, but the first version is the better one, having a more simplistic and youthful energy to it.
# 9 – As Tears Go By
Next on our Top ten Marianne Faithfull songs list is this song from 1964 from her self-titled debut that was written by Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Andrew Loog Oldham. It peaked at number nine in both the UK and Ireland. The Rolling Stones would later record their own version and it has since been recorded by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Avenged Sevenfold.
# 8 – Blowin’ in the Wind
Up next is Faithfull’s cover that is one of literally hundreds of the Bob Dylan classic that was released in 1963. This was her second single in 1965 and was accompanied by the B side “House of the Rising Sun.” In her first autobiography, she wrote that she was feeling drained and tired from a tour that she had been on when she recorded this.
# 7 – Come and Stay With Me
Here we have a single that was released in 1965 and written by Jackie DeShannon also included on Faithfull’s first album. It is one of her biggest hits, having reached number four in the United Kingdom. According to Faithfull’s manager Tony Calder, it was written in Los Angeles when he was there with Jackie DeShannon and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page who Jackie DeShannon was in a relationship with at the time.
# 6 – Yesterday
The next entry on our Top ten Marianne Faithfull songs list is another cover that most people reading this will know was originally by a certain band from Liverpool called The Beatles. This cover is one of an estimated 1,600 , making the track one of the most recorded of all time. This version was recorded in 1965 and included on Go Away From My World. It was later featured on 1967’s Love in a Mist.
# 5 – Is This What I Get For Loving You?
The third cover on our list of the top ten best Marianne Faithfull songs was originally written by Phil Spector and recorded by the Ronnettes in 1965. This version was produced by Oldham and released in 1967. It was Faithful’s final charting single of the sixties, reaching number forty-three in the United Kingdom, forty-two in Australia and 125 in the US.
# 4 – Something Better
This track was released in 1968 was written by Barry Mann and Gerry Goffin and produced by Mick Jagger. It was released as a single to promote the Decca Single compilation The World of Marianne Faithfull. Its B-side was “Sister Morphine.” This single was ultimately the final release of Faithful’s initial career, as it was the last thing that she produced until Dreamin My Dreams in 1976.
# 3 – The Ballad of Lucy Jordan
Here is a song that was originally recorded by Dr Hook, their version of which was included in my previous top ten list of their best songs. It was taken from Faithful’s 1979 album Broken English. When it was released as a single it became one of her highest charting songs, reaching high positions in various countries all over the world. This album was a major comeback for Faithful after having spent many years battling with heroin addiction and living on the streets.
# 2 – Broken English
Just off the top spot on this Marianne Faithfull songs list is the title track of Faithful’s seventh album Broken English. It was the second single to be released from the record in 1980. Faithful co-wrote the song along with Barry Reynolds, Joe Mavety, Steve York and Terry Standard. The song’s lyrics are about terrorism. With this track, Faithful is very much reinventing herself for the New Wave era. Her voice her sounds a lot deeper and cracked, which is due to her years of drug abuse and heavy smoking. Despite a positive critical reception, it failed to chart in both the UK and the US.
# 1 – Sister Morphine
We close out our top 10 Marianne Faithfull songs list is a song that Marianne Faithfull wrote with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Faithful released the original version as the B side to “Something Else” in 1969. The Rolling Stones released their own version two years later on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. Jagger plays acoustic guitar on this version, along with Ry Cooder who plays both Slide and Bass guitar, Jack Nitzche on piano and Charlie Watts on drums. Although Marianne Faithful was credited as writer on the initial release, her name was omitted from it when it released in the US, as it was from the Stones version. This led to a legal battle, which Marianne Faithful won and was given back credit as a co-author. Marianne Faithful later re-recorded it during the Broken English session and to this day it is a staple of her live sets.
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