Marianne Faithfull: Time Out.

29 April 2002 | 12:00 am | Chris Ryder
Originally Appeared In

Kissin' In The Wind.

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Kissin' Time is in stores now.

A decade ago Marianne Faithfull, looking like she'd just stepped off the catwalk,  took my hand, shook it, then wrapped her arms around me, kissed me on the cheek and said, "Tea. darling."

She then proceeded to pour from a beautiful silver tea service for the four people in the room. For the next hour she held court, telling stories of her long-ago boyfriend Mick Jagger and his Rolling Stones' best mate Keith Richards, of her '60s, her nightmare '70s and her comeback '80s.  She radiated and offered the kind of insight and understanding only those who have truly been to hell and back can possibly deliver. Just 30 minutes earlier she had delivered a vicious version of her crucial Why D'Ya Do It? Yet now there was not a drip of sweat in sight, her make-up and hair were perfect; Marianne was the most elegant of English ladies. She is one of the most remarkable people I know. Now she has made Kissin’ Time, her best album since Broken English, with bright young boy things Beck, Billy Corgan, Jarvis Cocker, Damon Albarn and Blur and Dave Stewart thrown in for good measure. The opener, Sex With Strangers with Beck, has those who don't know her concluding that she and Beck share a passion for enjoying close comforts with people they don't know.

“Yeah, Right. That's all Beck and I do is have sex with strangers. Not. I never had sex with strangers. I've always been a sex with friend’s kind of girl. I can't really remember; there may have been one or two strangers in there. I know sex with strangers is definitely sexy. I've got an imagination. I've checked, especially with my gay friends. Of course, it must be sexy. I also think as we get older that kind of stuff gets harder. I'm sure we both know how to fuck. We don't have to practice any more." She giggles.

The songs with Corgan, I'm On Fire and Wherever I Go, could sit comfortably on a Smashing Pumpkins album. The Pleasure Song written with Etienne Daho and Les Valentins is moody positivity imbued with 2002 noir electronics, Like Being Born is her first self-penned love song:

"I'm very, very proud of that", she says.

The title track with Blur is a broody reflection, and Marianne's rollicking get together with Jarvis Cocker on Sliding Through Life On Charm is a song that delivers archetypal Faithfull social comment: Now everybody wants to kiss my snatch / To go where God knows who has gone before. The ultimate irony is that Cocker wrote the words.

"I wrote the title and gave it to Jarvis because I'd been trying to write that song for 20 years. It started off as fun but ended up as a millstone around my neck. I knew it was great title but I got completely hung up on the rhyme shit, which is one of my faults. I was really getting desperate and thinking 'Who could do this goddamn song?' Then it hit me: 'Jarvis is the one.' We were passing in a TV studio and I just grabbed him and said, 'Jarvis, if I give you a title, will you write the song?  And he said, very laconic and sexy, 'Mmm, what's the title?' I said 'Sliding through Life On Charm' and I could see a spark. Then he said, 'Mmm, any other information?'  I said, 'No' and he said, 'Alright, I'll give it a go’. Then, three years later, I get a little package with the demo tape and lyrics. What I didn't know until we were actually recording the track was that he'd gone and read my book and take out of it the stuff that appears in the song.  He's extracted my life in the most amazing way and he's read my mind. He's read my art. He said everything that I think in the song but I'm too afraid to say."

There are so many facets to Faithful. She is rock and roll history, the ultimate rock chick and muse to generations of her contemporaries.

"You know, I had one of my big psychic experiences on the Millennium which I have had all my life, I'm very lucky, and I just realised I was transformed. I mean obviously I didn't think, 'Oh, I'm transformed, now I'm going to have to make a record' but I just knew it was the end of something and I was changed. When I was getting clean in Boston I got right into crystals and all that stuff and even now I have them all round my bed, I've lightened up about it a lot. All these songs I've written says something about that character. You know though, I honestly think that Kissin’ Time is better than Broken English. It is much harder to write out of celebration of life, love and joy than it is out of despair. It's peculiar it should be like that but it is."

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