Last April, Marianne Faithfull had begun working on a new album, her first in several years, when disaster struck: Then 73, she tested positive for Covid-19 and was hospitalized. Miraculously, Faithfull not only recovered but completed the album, She Walks in Beauty, which has just been announced for release on April 30th.
A collection of poetry set to “sound collage compositions,” She Walks in Beauty finds Faithfull reading from works by Lord Byron, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, and Lord Tennyson. Produced by Warren Ellis, a principal member of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds, the album also features appearances by Brian Eno (who added “sound texture” to two tracks), Nick Cave (who plays piano throughout the record), and French cellist Vincent Ségal.
In a newly published interview with The Guardian, Faithfull says she wanted to tackle such a project for a long time, “but I could never think of how, and what record company would ever want to put it out; who would even want to hear it. Even I thought about it commercially, and that’s never been my way.” The album wound up being recorded in lockdown, and, Faithfull said, “I found it very comforting and very kind of beautiful. Now when I read them, I see eternity — they’re like a river or a mountain, they’re beautiful and comforting.”
When she was discharged from a London hospital last May, after 22 days in intensive care, she posted on Twitter: “I would like to say to all the people who cared for me and thought of me, who sent me love, people I know, people I have never met, thank you for helping me to get better.”
In The Guardian, Faithfull comments further on her ordeal, saying, “All I know is that I was in a very dark place [during my illness].” Faithfull also says that as a result of the coronavirus, “The memory, fatigue, and my lungs are still not OK — I have to have oxygen and all that stuff. The side-effects are so strange.”
Faithfull, a biopic on her life, is also in the works, starring Lucy Boyton (Bohemian Rhapsody) in the title role. “It could be really good,” Faithfull said, “but it doesn’t require my artistic input — I lived the life, that’s enough.”