The Hollies’ Cheeky Tribute to Marianne Faithfull Written by Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, and Tony Hicks

By 1965, the Hollies were at the apex of their career with hits “Here I Go Again” and their cover of Doris Troy’s 1963 hit “Just One Look” in 1964 and their UK No. 1s, “I Can’t Let Go” and “I’m Alive” in ’65, a year before breaking onto the U.S. charts with their raga rock “Bus Stop.”

Founded by old schoolmates vocalist Allan Clarke and guitarist Graham Nash, and rounded out by lead guitarist Tony Hicks, rhythm guitarist Terry Sylvester, bassists Bernie Calvert and Eric Haydock, and drummers Don Rathbone and Bobby Elliott, the Hollies’ hits continued throughout the 1960s and mid-’70s. In ’67, the Hollies also peaked at No. 3 in the UK with another song, an ode to a fellow singer/songwriter and Rolling Stones muse, Marianne Faithfull.

Released as a single to their B-side cover of the Everly Brothers‘ “Signs That Will Never Change,” “Carrie-Anne” was another success in the U.S. for the group, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, though it was never officially divulged that the song was written about Faithfull until decades later.

The group never had the “courage” to call it “Marianne.” Thus, their camouflaged title: “Carrie Anne.”

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‘Hey Carrie Anne, what’s your game?’

Written by Clarke—who had a brief affair with Faithfull at the time—along with Nash and Hicks, “Carrie Anne” starts playfully, with a more innocent interaction in the schoolyard. Throughout the song, featuring some Beach Boys, “Barbara Ann”-inspired harmonies and the first to introduce steel pans into the instrumentation, Nash, Clarke, and Hicks take turns singing verses about their imagined relationship with “Carrie Anne” and her wandering ways.

Hey, Carrie Anne
Hey, Carrie Anne
When we were at school, our games were simple
I played a janitor, you played a monitor
Then you played with older boys and prefects
What’s the attraction in what they’re doing?

Hey, Carrie Anne, what’s your game now?
Can anybody play?
Hey, Carrie Anne, what’s your game now?
Can anybody play?

You were always something special to me
Quite independent, never caring
You lost your charm as you were aging
Where is your magic disappearing?

People live and learn but you’re still learning
You use my mind and I’ll be your teacher
When the lesson’s over, you’ll be with me
Then I’ll hear the other people saying

Hey, Carrie Anne, what’s your game now?
Can anybody play?

The group always kept mum about the true identity behind “Carrie Anne,” until Nash revealed that the song started as a song about Faithfull in a 1995 documentary.

“I must admit that ‘Carrie Anne’ started out to be a song about Marianne Faithfull,” said Nash. “She was unbelievably attractive. She was an incredibly sexy woman but we just didn’t have the courage to say ‘Marianne,’ because it would have given away the fact that everyone wanted to make love to Marianne Faithfull.”

He added, “So we made up this girl’s name, ‘Carrie Anne.’ It seemed to work.”

Photo: Cyrus Andrews/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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