Today in class, we discussed how a song was metal, broadway, or both, based on semiotics. I’m hoping to expand a little more on that here and work on my understanding of it.

Over Spring Break I re-read Faithfull: An Autobiography by Marianne Faithfull and David Dalton.  I could probably spend hours talking about Marianne Faithfull’s books and music as she is one of my favorite singers.  Her post 1969 voice is not for everyone, but it fits the worn, survivor she became after years of dealing with homelessness and drug/alcohol abuse.

In her book, Marianne discussed her first single, As Tears Go By, which she recorded when she was 16 years old.  It became a huge pop hit and launched her into stardom.  In 1987 she rerecorded the song for her first post-recovery album Strange Weather, and in her book, she stated 16 was not the appropriate age to record this song, 40 was the right age. I cannot help but agree with this after hearing the two versions, one right after another.  To me, event though the lyrics and the performer are the same, they are two completely different songs.

First off, the 1964 recording is very light sounding, sounds like a 16-year-old convent girl spending her life trying to figure out what she should do with her life, whereas the 1987 recording sounds as if the person has been to hell and back. The re-recording is a more reflective song, she is looking back on her life, seeing what she has been through and accepting where she is today — it almost sounds regretful when she says she sits and watches As Tears Go By now, wishing and wondering how things could have been different.  It became so much more personal, whereas the original 1964 songs sound a lot more generic. Marianne did not have the experiences yet to fully express the meaning of the song and make it a personal reflection on her life — just taking the lyrics at face value and not interpreting them as a way to show her journey from where she was to where she is.  Could it be the voice or her appearance in the two videos that makes the two different, but to me, it is more about the performance.  The performance of the 1987 recording is what makes it different.  It has been slowed down, with more emphasis on the lyrics — they can be heard loud and clear with minimal production.  Marianne sounds connected to the words here and even though she did not write the song (with was the first collaborative effort between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards), it sounds as if she did or could have.  The words became her accepting who she became.

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