For a Briton to be awarded France’s Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres is some achievement – particularly for one whose career has sometimes been overshadowed by her private life. Nevertheless, Marianne Faithfull holds that honour.
She begins a continental tour tonight, starting in Monte Carlo and taking in Aix-en-Provence, Amiens, Bordeaux and Paris, and elsewhere, over the coming months.
Faithfull is quite the Francophile. She has lived in the French capital for a number of years, previously in the 18th arrondissement and now in the 14th.
Over the years she has collaborated with a number of French artists and she remains popular with French audiences. She was presented her award in 2011 by the then culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand, nephew of former president François Mitterrand.
“French jazz was among her musical influences, prompting her to change the spelling of her name from Marian to Marianne”
Faithfull has come a long way in life. As a teenager, she began performing in coffee bars and clubs near her Reading home. French jazz was among her musical influences, prompting her to change the spelling of her name from Marian to Marianne.
Her early albums included covers of French songs. With linguistic coaching by fellow singer Louise Cordet, she would go on to record French versions of some of her own English-language material for consumption outre Manche.
She also appeared in a couple of films by legendary producer Jean-Luc Godard: Made in USA and Anna. The best thing that can be said about her later role in romantic road trip movie The Girl on a Motorcycle (pictured) was that she got to appear opposite Alain Delon.
Now, 50 years after hitting it big with As Tears Go By, Marianne Faithfull is hitting the road again. Marianne, we salute you.