January 15, 2021
After battling Covid-19 for three weeks in hospital, Faithfull went on to finish her 21st solo album – and possibly her last. She reflects on how she might never sing again, her hatred of being a 60s muse and why she still believes in miracles
Marianne Faithfull: I was in a dark place. Presumably it was death
Marianne Faithfull is on the phone from her home in Putney, south-west London. She sounds exactly like you would expect: as husky as her singing on every album she has made for the past 40 years and, as the daughter of a baroness, very posh. Her vocabulary is unmistakably that of someone who came of age in the 1960s: exasperation is expressed in sentences that begin: “Oh, man…”; things that vex her are “a drag”. But before we begin, she offers a pre-emptive apology. Her memory, she says, isn’t what it was. “It’s wild, the things I forget,” she says. “Short-term. I remember the distant past very well. It’s recent things I can’t remember. And that’s ghastly. Awful. You wouldn’t believe how awful it is.”
The memory loss is a result of Covid-19. She was in something of a purple patch in her career when the virus struck last April, midway through recording her 21st solo album She Walks in Beauty, and with a biopic based on her 1994 autobiography in the works (“It could be really good,” she says of the latter, “but it doesn’t require my artistic input – I lived the life, that’s enough”). She doesn’t remember anything about falling ill, or being rushed to intensive care: “All I know is that I was in a very dark place – presumably, it was death.”
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