‘Sister Morphine,’ Tammy Faye Starlite and Keith Hartel




“Sister Morphine,” written by Marianne Faithfull with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, is “a song of isolation, the terror of incapacitation and being at the mercy of faceless, merciless caretakers … the precipitous moments in the void between left and death,” says Tammy Faye Starlite.

Starlite — an irreverent, passionate and intelligent singer and songwriter — typically steps onto a stage channeling “blondes with low voices and defiant lives” such as Faithfull and Nico, and has earned praise in publications such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone and The New Yorker.

In the eerie video below, shot this week by Starlite and her husband, guitarist Keith Hartel, in their Hoboken home, she sings “Sister Morphine” without actually making an appearance. Her beautiful voice cries out, stunningly, while pills are displayed and a desperate, dark mood pervades. “The scream of the ambulance is sounding in my ears/Tell me, Sister Morphine, how long have I been lying here?/What am I doing in this place?” she sings.

The numbers of those will get seriously sick or possibly die from the coronavirus over the next few weeks are terrifying and Starlite captures the fear of major illness — of lying in bed knowing that “you know and I know that in the morning I will be dead.”

For more on Starlite, visit facebook.com/tammyfayestarlite.

NJArts.net’s Songs to See Us Through series is designed to spotlight songs relevant to the coronavirus crisis and encourage readers to support the artists who made them (and won’t be able to generate income via concerts at this time). Click here for links to all songs in the series.

We encourage artists to email us submissions (newly recorded, if possible) at njartsdaily@gmail.com. Please include links to sites such as Patreon and Venmo. Readers can also make suggestions via that email address.


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liv March 21, 2020 - 12:53 pm

very dark, but right on for these times


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