Tuesday 13 May 2014

Xavier Gernet - Forme De Rêve, from France 1979

A beautiful 'chansonnier' style French record (popular songs with orchestration).  It might be that only the French have a taste for this particular style that was made by famous by artists like Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel.  For myself because I partly grew up with the style I have a nostalgic kind of admiration that stayed with me forever.

Both music and lyrics are by this (forgotten) artist Xavier, except track A2 where Christian Gaubert contributes music. Notice (on the back) the involvement: bass is Jannick Top, Claude Engel is on guitar.  Unfortunately they don't add a zeuhl element here.  The stand-out track is "Mimmie" which was clearly his big radio hit.  The lyrics are to me what really transport it into the realm of pop culture heaven.  A quick translation:

"I lift up my collar that is not too big, look, now it's raining,
I go down, sheepish, the grand boulevards that are all blue
not shaved and very tired, in the corner of the eye,
I put on my smile to make good the big game

I go to Mimmie my old ex, who gives me the eye,
every day I loiter, or, I try to find better
Mimmie her life is her friends, one day out of two,
in her little bed we pretend we are two

I have under my arm a cool thing to make things blue,
'Slow burning love' by James Taylor, it's the best,
I go see Mimmie, my old ex, who gives me the eye,
every day, I loiter or I try to find better...

[bridge section]

When it's done, we get out of bed, we eat a bit
sometimes she cries, it's her heart that's breaking a bit,
so I say, it's better like this, dear friend
she leaves in the dark for hours, after that she's OK

Because it's late, along the grands boulevards I walk a bit
not shaved, tired, and not really feeling much better,
something not too cool is flowing at the corner of my eye,
inside a little hollow, look, it's raining now..."

I would say that's about as perfect a little pop song as ever was written, especially in conjunction with the melancholy music.  I particularly love the circularity or the delicate way he repeats the ideas: first she goes for a walk, she feels better, but then he goes for a walk and feels worse.  Is the beginning the same time period as the end, i.e. he is simply remembering what happened, like a screenplay?  I won't get into the sad commonness of the situation in which a man takes advantage of his ex while seeking someone better... Sadly this artist didn't put out another record.  Though the remainder of the record is a little behind this little pop masterpiece, it does have a few bright moments.

But we can certainly try to have this particular song immortalized: