Sister Morphine

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"Sister Morphine"
Single by Marianne Faithfull
Released 21 February 1969
Recorded July 1968
Genre Blues rock, folk rock
Length 5:33
Label Decca F 12889
Songwriter(s) Faithfull/Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Mick Jagger

"Sister Morphine" is a song written by Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Faithfull released the original version of the song as the B-side to her Decca Records single "Something Better" on 21 February 1969.[1] A different version was released two years later by the Rolling Stones for their 1971 album Sticky Fingers.

In the U.K. Faithfull's single was withdrawn by Decca due to the drug reference in the title, after an estimated 500 copies had been issued, but in other countries the single remained in release. In some territories such as the Netherlands, Italy and Japan, “Sister Morphine” appeared on the A-side.[2] In addition, the French, US and Netherlands editions of the single actually featured alternate versions of both sides to the U.K. release. Faithfull performed "Something Better" sung live to a backing track at The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, but the programme was never televised, no contemporary performance of "Sister Morphine" is known.

The original U.K. on Decca credited Faithfull as a co-writer,[1] but when London Records issued the single was issued in the U.S., her name was omitted, as it was from the credit on 'Sticky Fingers'.

Label of Rolling Stones single without Faithfull's songwriting credit

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.[3]

The personnel for the Faithfull version is Marianne on vocals, Jagger on acoustic guitar, Ry Cooder on slide guitar and bass guitar, Jack Nitzsche on piano and organ, and Charlie Watts on drums. The Stones' version features 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 and it was subsequently released on a 7-inch and 12-inch single with "Broken English".[2] This recording appears as a bonus track on the second disc of the 2013 deluxe edition of the album. The song remains a staple of her concert set-list and appeared on the live albums Blazing Away in 1990 and No Exit in 2016.

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.