Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Apr 8th 2009 5:00PM by Melinda Newman
These days, Faithfull, who became famous at 17 when she recorded the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards composition 'As Tears Go By,' says her decadence expresses itself in her music.
'Easy Come, Easy Go,' her new CD -- and 22nd album overall -- blends well-chosen covers from such legendary artists as Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday with Faithfull's striking interpretations of tunes from contemporary songwriters including Neko Case, the Decemberists and Espers. Faithfull is a patron saint of sorts to many younger artists who admire that she has lived life on her own, albeit often troubled, terms. Many of them, including Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power), Sean Lennon, Rufus Wainwright and Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons appear on 'Easy Come, Easy Go.'
Faithfull talks to Spinner about the one sad theme that recurs over and over for her, spills a few secrets about her longtime pal Richards and reveals why she won't give Amy Winehouse any advice.
What were your criteria for picking material for 'Easy Come, Easy Go'?
Really, really, really good songs and a lot of my old favorites, too. I think it's a question of taste. I didn't do it alone. I chose a lot of the songs and then [producer] Hal [Willner] came in October 2007, and he had a lot of things to play me ... He brought the contemporary stuff; I didn't know that. He brought the Decemberists, Espers, Neko Case, all that stuff. The rest of it, I did.
For your 1987 collection of covers, 'Strange Weather,' you and Hal went through hundreds of songs. Was it different this time?
Yeah, we were much more focused. It took maybe a bit more than a week. When I got to New York and started to work with the band, we were working very fast because of, you know, money, really. I was literally jumping into space without anything, just hoping I'd land right, and, really, we did.
When you did 'Strange Weather,' you remade 'As Tears Go By.' You said it was a song for a 40-year-old woman to be singing, not a 17-year old girl. What is a song for a 62-year-old woman to sing that you could not have sung earlier?
The song 'Solitude' [by Duke Ellington]. I could have never sung 'Sing Me Back Home.' There's an awful lot of them that I think I could not have understood them as consciously as I did now. I wouldn't have had the confidence. I really had to let go of control and just trust work blind and trust the songs, too.
'Sing Me Back Home' features you and Keith Richards, whom you've known for more than 40 years. What's something about Keith that would surprise us?
I think maybe a lot of things. First of all, he's a real family man. He's a one-woman man, although he's had quite a few in his time [laughs]. I think he's got it right now. He's very happy with [wife] Patti [Hanson], he loves his children, he loves his grandchildren, so he's got a lot of values and integrity. Another thing is he reads all the time. Keith is really interested in history. He reads incredibly intense and serious books. I remember once I met him and he was reading 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.'
You first hit it big in the '60s. Is there anything about that time that you miss?
Oh, sure. I miss being young and not knowing so much and not being cynical ... I had a wonderful life in the '60s, but everything wasn't always great, you know ... There were also very hard things I had to learn as a human being, anyway, to cope with. And they've come around again and again and again in my life, and I'm still learning.
What's one thing you feel that you still have to learn?
I find ... betrayal in a love affair very hard. It was devastating and it's still very devastating ... Yeah, it always comes around again and again, and eventually, I've just thought to myself, "I'm not going to bother anymore." I am 62; I can just decline to play [laughs].
Do you still read your CD reviews?
Yeah, not all of them.... I know you're not meant to. They are [filtered] a bit. You know, I react very badly to a terrible review. I remember it. With [1979's] 'Broken English,' I got one really appalling review. There was one that just devastated me. I stayed in bed and cried for three days. My son remembers.
You had breast cancer a few years ago; you had some health problems last year. How are you feeling?
I feel wonderful, but I did go through a big depression last year and there were things I needed to do for myself that I needed to do. The breast cancer was very frightening, obviously, and I still feel a bit damaged. I really put myself through hell and nobody did it to me, I did it to myself. And, of course, my brain has gone through a lot. I have to really be very focused to be able to do my job.
How do you think those events affected how you think about music?
I don't think they affected it at all. I've always had this illusion that I'll be OK; and it's a very, very good thing, and I think Amy [Winehouse] needs a bit of that.
I don't know if anyone can give that to her.
That's the whole trouble. People say to me, "What advice would you give Amy Winehouse?" and I wouldn't give her any. I would just say, "You're doing great. It's fantastic." What I want to say is love yourself and let go of all this, but I wouldn't dare.
What's the best part about performing live?
I'll tell you: I don't have any aches and pains. I can wear high heels; that's a huge thing. That is something that happens physically with adrenalin and endorphins and it has something to do with the thrill of performing and being with great musicians ... It's the one thing that hasn't become ordinary and never will.