Weathered, once torn, now back

She took questions and offered answers with apparent pleasure and ease, regardless of the subject, be it her music, acting, or notorious personal life. But when asked for a bit of general advice – by a reporter at a news conference in Athens yesterday ahead of two shows in Greece this week as part of her aptly titled «Songs of Innocence and Experience» tour – the weathered, once-torn and now revived artist Marianne Faithfull courteously refused. «I never give advice because people will always go their own way. I don’t judge people, and I don’t offer advice. People have to work it out for themselves, really,» responded the 61-year-old English singer, songwriter and actress, whose early pop stardom in the 60s was overshadowed by drug abuse for most of the following decade before she started rebuilding both her life and career, now widely regarded as successful. The comeback was interrupted late in 2006 when Faithfull was diagnosed as being in the early stages of breast cancer. But she courageously returned to performing six months later, in March of last year. A consistent series of critically acclaimed albums over the past decade or so – including 2002’s «Kissin’ Time,» which included songs written by contemporary greats such as Beck and Billy Corgan, and «Before the Poison,» an album released three years later with the bulk of its material penned by PJ Harvey and Nick Cave – helped reinstate Faithfull as a relevant and creative force in music today. In short, the past decade has proven to be a major departure from Faithfull’s erratic post-60s past, which produced few examples of notable work, the highlights being 1979’s «Broken English» and 1987’s «Strange Weather.» Asked to comment on which stage of her life she considered the most interesting, Faithfull opted for the present without hesitation. «I’d say now, I kind of miss being young. But the stage I’m now experiencing is the most productive and creative I’ve had. I’ve become very good at what I do. I shouldn’t be saying that myself, but I have,» declared Faithfull. «When I was young, I was like a pretty doll, and I just got thrown away. If I had to lose my youth and beauty to get to this stage of artistic integrity, then it’s been worth it,» she continued. For the umpteenth time in her career, Faithfull, at yesterday’s news conference, had to face the seemingly inevitable question regarding her past association with the Rolling Stones, particularly the supergroup’s frontman Mick Jagger, an ex-boyfriend throughout the late 60s. «Come on, I’ve had to talk about this for the last 46 years,» responded Faithfull, with politeness still intact. «I like [Jagger] and respect him a lot but that was a long, long time ago. I learnt a lot from Mick, Keith [Richards] and even Charlie [Watts]. He got me interested in jazz. I mostly get to see Keith these days. We’re all working artists.» Faithfull is currently finishing off a new album, «Easy Come, Easy Go.» Produced by Hal Willner, who produced her «Strange Weather» album, the latest release, recorded in New York City, is expected this May. «It’s been quite an adventure, what you call a real studio album. It’s turned out well. This is an album of other people’s songs – jazz, folk, blues. It’s very eclectic,» said Faithfull. «I’m not really promoting anything new on this tour, so I’m really enjoying performing, not that I mind promoting new albums.» Backed by a trio for this tour, Faithfull said its repertory was career-spanning. Faithfull spoke enthusiastically about her respected parallel activity as a film actress, which began in the mid-60s for a decade before re-emerging in the early 90s. Most recently she starred in last year’s «Irina Palm,» where she played the role of Maggie, a 60-year-old widow who becomes a sex worker to pay for the medical treatment of her ill grandson. The performance earned Faithfull a Best Actress nomination from the European Film Academy. «To mix acting and what I call my real job, which is music, is complicated. But I love acting, if I have in front of me a good script, a good cast and crew. But I can’t go from film to film. It’s too late. If I hadn’t been discovered [in music], my life would have been very different,» said Faithfull. «My God, [actors] work so hard. They really have to go all over the world to promote these films; they get well paid, of course… But it’s all so celebrity-centered. I’m not movie-star material.» Marianne Faithfull: Thursday – Pallas Theater, Athens; Friday – Vellideio, Thessaloniki.

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