Album: First And Last And Always (1985)

Songfacts®:

  • First And Last And Always was the debut album for The Sisters of Mercy, and the only one with Wayne Hussey, who played guitar and wrote the music to six of the songs on the set, including this one.

    The lyrics are full of rich imagery, with lead singer Andrew Eldritch (who wrote the lyrics) growling about facing a watery grave if Marian cannot save him. Eldritch was new to writing lyrics, and has said that he was in an "altered state" while writing them, as he was doing a fair amount of drugs at the time. To a sober ear, the words are a disconnected series of thoughts, but Eldritch says they were connected in his mind when he wrote them. The lyrics work not so much because of their meaning, but because of their sound: how they accompany the music and accent his very deep voice.
  • In our 2013 interview with Wayne Hussey, we asked him to name his favorite Sisters of Mercy song, and he cited this one. Talking about how the song came together, he said: "Andrew [Eldritch] and I worked at different times of the day in the studio. I would work during the day, which is why poor old Dave [producer David M. Allen] was absolutely exhausted by the end of it: because he was trying to work with both of us. 'Marian' was something I came up with in the studio and there I wrote the whole song, music and the backing track. I wrote 'Black Planet' the same day, actually. Then Andrew came in in the evening: 'Oh, I don't like that.' I was, like, whatever. I went off. I came back in the morning and there were finished vocals on both of them. That was how it was working on the album."

    Hussey adds that when he listened to the song about 25 years later, he was struck by the "weird alchemy" on the guitars, which held up very well. "It sounds really spacious, but very full," he said.
  • The last verse is in German. The translation:

    What I can do and what I could do
    I just don't know anymore
    Give me something beautiful again
    Drag me from the sea
    I hear you calling Marian
    Can you hear me calling?
    I am here alone
    I hear you calling Marian
    Without your help I am lost in this place

Comments: 2

  • Nick Needs More... from Heartlandummm, no one said Hussey wrote the lyrics, Sidney. twice stated, Andrew wrote the lyrics to both "Black Planet" (Hussey original title and chorus was "Damce on Glass") and "Marian". Hussey wrote the MUSIC. just the MUSIC. given the fact that they both did alot of drugs back then, i always wondered if this was, along with the Sistets nane, another reference to the great Captain Mandrax, the man himself, Leonard Cohen. like not a cover but a version, a bastardized version. especially because of the german verse, but then i remembered the real Marianne was norwegian not deutsch. so long that theory!
  • Sid from Detonation BoulevardWayne Hussey did not write the lyrics to Marian. Eldritch wrote them, as the album sleeve notes clearly state, and clearly these are not Hussey's style (c.f. Garden of Delight for instance, which does date from the same sessions). Eldritch's opinion of Hussey's abilities as a songwriter at the time are well documented and it's hard to imagine him singing any of them on the album in any case.
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