Song of the Day: Marianne Faithfull – “Sister Morphine” (1969)

Happy 69th birthday to singer Marianne Faithfull, who turns 69 years old today. The former significant other of Mick Jagger co-wrote this song with Jagger and Keith Richards but had to enter into a legal battle to get her name included in the songwriting credits. Faithfull released this version of the song as a B-side in 1969, with an all-star backing band (Jagger on acoustic guitar, Ry Cooder slide guitar/bass, Jack Nitzsche piano/organ, Charlie Watts drums). The Rolling Stones’ version that was part of 1971’s Sticky Fingers added a bit more muscle to the song, but any version of this song is usually haunting. The song is about the experience of an injured man in a hospital bed when he’s given drugs for his pain. The lyrics paint an eerie and powerful picture of the subject’s experience with drugs.

Here I lie in my hospital bed
Tell me, Sister Morphine, when are you coming round again?
Oh, I don’t think I can wait that long
Oh, you see that I’m not that strong
The scream of the ambulance is sounding in my ears
Tell me, Sister Morphine, how long have I been lying here?
What am I doing in this place?
Why does the doctor have no face?
Oh, I can’t crawl across the floor
Ah, can’t you see, Sister Morphine, I’m trying to score
Well it just goes to show
Things are not what they seem
Please, Sister Morphine, turn my nightmares into dreams
Oh, can’t you see I’m fading fast?
And that this shot will be my last
Sweet Cousin Cocaine, lay your cool cool hand on my head
Ah, come on, Sister Morphine, you better make up my bed
‘Cause you know and I know in the morning I’ll be dead
Yeah, and you can sit around, yeah and you can watch all the
Clean white sheets stained red.

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Photo credit: By Andrew34 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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