Cat Power, Iggy Pop Cover Marianne Faithfull’s Version of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero”

Originally recorded by John Lennon in 1970, “Working Class Hero” was recorded by Marianne Faithfull nearly a decade later on her seventh album Broken English. In honor of Faithfull’s 1979 version, Iggy Pop and Cat Power (Chan Marshall) have covered the song for The Faithful: A Tribute to Marianne Faithfull, out December 8.

Lurking around a deeply thumping bassline and what sounds like a sampling from U2‘s “With or Without You,” the spellbinding duet opens with Marshall’s As soon as you’re born, they make you feel small / By giving you no time instead of it all / ‘Til the pain is so big you feel nothing at all meeting Pop’s gravelly A working class hero is something to be.

In partnership with Q Records, BANDBOX, and the Women of Rock Oral History Project, the tribute album to Faithfull features 19 covers of her songs performed by Pop and Marshall, along with Garbage‘s Shirley Manson, Peaches, Lydia Lunch, Throwing Muses’ Tanya Donelly, Bush Tetras, Donita Sparks, and more. The double vinyl version also features original artwork by Jill Emery (Mazzy Star, Hole).

Proceeds from the sale of the album will help assist the 76-year-old Faithfull who is still recovering from long COVID.

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“Marianne has lived a life,” said Marshall in a statement. “She is a queen to all who know her, and all who adore her! Her framework of contributions to the world of music is unmistakable. Every time I hear her gorgeous vocal sway, I am moved, I am closer to permanence. In a world of dizzying, new fizzling arrows of song and voices, Marianne has always struck the bullseye of my heart and soul. I adore her like no other. A true Dame, beyond words. Royalty forever.”

Broken English was released during a turbulent time in Faithfull’s life. Considered her comeback, the album featured some of Faithfull’s own songs along with Lennon’s The U.S. vs. John Lennon track, and a cover of Shel Silverstein‘s “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan.”

The album also marked a transition in her vocals, which carried on from her previous 1976 album Dreamin’ My Dreams. Years of alcohol and drug abuse and smoking and a bout of severe laryngitis left Faithfull with a deeper, huskier voice that better served the stirring storytelling on Broken English.

[RELATED: Review: ‘She Walks in Beauty’ by Marianne Faithfull]

“It has taken a long time for me to be recognized at all for the artist that I am,” said Faithfull in a previous statement on her tribute album. “I’ve never let that poison my existence, my love of my work, and my belief in myself and what I do.”

Pearson, founder of the Women Of Rock Oral History Project, published a book about Faithfull in 2021, Why Marianne Faithfull Matters, which she called her “love letter” to the singer.

“The depth of my gratitude and devotion can be found in that 40,000-word document, but that was before I got to know the woman behind the icon—or the muse, as the boys say,” said Pearson. “Marianne is funny, smart, intensely creative, an avid reader, and a normal human being who has been through some shit. … To me, the fact that Marianne is a regular-ass person who has struggled, overcome addiction, health problems, has experienced love and loss, and continued to amass a musical catalog as expansive as hers is a testament to her genius.”

Pearson added, “My hope with this record is that Marianne sees how loved, respected, and appreciated she is by her successors. I hope that these versions of her songs introduce a new audience to Marianne Faithfull and inspire them to buy her records. I hope that Marianne Faithfull gets the respect she deserves; preferably in this lifetime.”

A year after contracting COVID in 2020, Faithfull lost her singing voice and recorded a spoken word poetry album, She Walks in Beauty, with Warren Ellis (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds).

“I am grateful to the wonderful artists who contributed to this tribute album; that they identify with my art, and that it has moved them in some way, in their own lives, means so much to me,” said Faithfull. “Their interpretations of songs that I have recorded and performed over the course of my 60-plus year career is incredibly moving. I’m so grateful and feel so much love for all of you!”

The Faithful: A Tribute to Marianne Faithfull,’ Track List:

Disc One – Side A


Tracy Bonham – “As Tears Go By”
Tanya Donelly & the Parkington Sisters – “This Little Bird”
Josie Cotton – “Summer Nights”
Sylvia Black – “Sister Morphine”
Cat Power & Iggy Pop – “Working Class Hero”

Disc One – Side B

Shirley Manson & Peaches – “Why D’Ya Do It”
Pom Poms – “Brain Drain”
Bush Tetras – “Guilt”
Joan As Policewoman – “Broken English”
Tammy Faye Starlite & Barry Reynolds – “The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan”

Disc Two – Side C

Honeychild Coleman – “Over Here (No Time For Justice)”
Adele Bertei – “Times Square”
Nicole Atkins & Jim Sclavunos – “Strange Weather”
Lydia Lunch – “Love, Life, and Money”
Cynthia Ross (the B Girls) & Tim Bovaconti – “Vagabond Ways”

Disc Two – Side D

Donita Sparks – “Sliding Through Life on Charm”
Miss Guy – “Sex With Strangers”
FaithNYC – “Kissin’ Time”
Feminine Aggression – “Before The Poison”

Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

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