Random Jukebox: Marianne Faithfull’s Why’d Ya Do It?

Sometimes you just have to roll with the selections of the random jukebox, and today it picked a salacious little ditty by Marianne Faithfull, who, like far too many, has been battling coronavirus in 2020. 

An imperious, mutable blonde wisp, Faithfull moved from coffeehouse folkie to Swingin’ London hanger-on to Rolling Stones consort to pop star to Mick Jagger muse to David Bowie-duetting suicidal heroin wash-out in the space of about six years, eventually marrying a member of the Vibrators and living on the streets of Soho).

Faithfull’s 1979 album Broken English (lead single: the gorgeous Ballad Of Lucy Jordan) was her proper return to the fray, and Why’d Ya Do It was the record’s darkest provocation, a spooky crawlspace of betrayal where punk, reggae, disco, rock, and even tango gnashed at each other’s bare flesh.

Her raw and raspy reading of poet Heathcoate Williams’ graphic lyrics was vividly startling — what has this woman done, let alone seen? — with frigid synth loops completing the sultry, sod-off groove. “Why’d ya do it?” she screamed, “After all we’ve said / Every time I see your dick I see her cunt in my bed.”

The workers at the Australian EMI plant where the record was pressed were so offended by the song’s lyrical content that they staged a walkout. They weren’t too keen on me booming it out of the sound system during working hours at the Bull Hotel in Stony Stratford either, on a tape that an impish pen-pal from Bracknell had sent me, thus introducing me to the wonderful world of Marianne.

Beats sugary confectionary any day.

Steve Pafford

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