Marianne Faithfull and Lord Byron, a match made in heaven, if not the heaven of the orthodox. Add music by Warren Ellis and you have one of the most singular songs in Marianne Faithfull’s multi-faceted career as a recording artist.
‘She Walks in Beauty’ was written by Lord Byron after attending a party at Lady Sarah Caroline Sitwell’s on June 11, 1814, and falling under the spell of the beautiful Mrs Anne Beatrix Wilmot. It is reported that, upon returning to his rooms, he toasted her health, drained a tumbler of brandy, then sat and wrote the poem. But did he get the girl? It was published a year later in his volume of Hebrew Melodies.
“It’s very romantic, not like you imagine Byron to be” says Marianne. “It’s so beautiful, and that’s why I like it. I love the other side of Byron too, but this is really amazing, sublime. And I was very drawn to the ability to do really beautiful rhymes. I think that’s from being a songwriter. It’s incredibly nice. Not what I connect with Lord Byron at all.”
Having long proved herself a great interpreter of song, Marianne brings to vivid life this great poem in her new album – She Walks In Beauty – which will be available on April 30th. It could be said that Marianne Faithfull has been preparing to make this album for the best part of 60 years. “When I was 13 or 14, I bought myself a book, Palgrave’s Golden Treasury, and that really turned me on to poetry, lots of different poetry,” she says. “And then there was my English teacher at the convent, Mrs Simpson. I was studying for my A Levels in the year before I got discovered. Very happy. Then I was discovered and never finished them, but I learnt a lot and it never left me, so I had this idea all my life, really, that I wanted to make the most beautiful poetry record with music.”
At 73, she’s about to make her dream come true. But that poetry record wouldn’t be the same without the incredible music composed by Marianne’s long-time friend and collaborator, Warren Ellis. Member of the Bad Seeds since 1993, and composer of almost 20 film and theatre scores, including for The Road and The Proposition, Warren has worked with Marianne as a musician and songwriter since her 2005 album, Before the Poison and, with producer Head, has created the delicate musical textures on She Walks In Beauty.
Those textures counterpoint the readings, Marianne’s voice bearing the marks of someone that has lived many lives and felt the passing touch of many deaths. It’s a voice in which the very grain of poetry – love, longing, intoxication, inspiration – has concentrated itself, and speaks of its own accord, and walks in its own beauty.
Stream / buy ‘She Walks In Beauty’ (single) here : https://MarianneFaithfull.lnk.to/SWIBPR
Pre-order She Walks In Beauty (album) here : https://mariannefaithfull.lnk.to/SheWalksInBeauty_PreOrderPR