Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Sister Morphine" is a song written by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Marianne Faithfull. Faithfull released a version of the song as the b-side to her 1969 single "Something Better" on Decca Records, 21 February 1969. Although sung live to a backing track by Faithfull at The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, that film was never televised and "Something Better" did not hit the UK chart, an estimated 500 copies only being issued by Decca. A different version was released two years later by The Rolling Stones as a track on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. It was originally credited solely to Jagger and Richards, but after a legal battle Faithfull retained her rights as a co-author, acknowledged by the 1994 Virgin Records reissue of the Stones' album catalogue from Sticky Fingers through Steel Wheels.

The personnel for the Faithfull version is herself on vocals, Jagger on acoustic guitar, Ry Cooder on slide guitar and bass, Jack Nitzsche on piano and organ, and Charlie Watts on drums. The Stones' version has Jagger on vocals, Richards on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, Cooder and Nitzche again on slide guitar and piano respectively, Bill Wyman on bass, and Watts again on drums.

Faithfull recorded the song again in 1979, during the sessions for her Broken English album; this version was subsequently released on a 12" single, and appears as a bonus track on the second disc of the 2013 deluxe edition of the album.

A chapter of the 1978 book Babel by Patti Smith is entitled "Sister Morphine," and the song is referenced in the 1982 novel The Transmigration of Timothy Archer by Philip K. Dick.


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