scattered to the winds

Posted by Whitmore, July 26, 2007 01:50pm | Post a Comment

Scattered … That’s where I am these days, early July. Completely to the wind all up and down the west coast.

If I’m not in the middle of packing up some 350 boxes of household items, toys, records, and books, and moving from an island in the Puget Sound back to my native Los Angeles, I ‘m sitting in a van doing a small tour back up the coast to the northwest with the band Listing Ship, this schedule is hell.

(We've been waiting on the uber-semi-truck filled with 11,000 pounds of personal possessions, finally it arrived, I bid a big hello to the movers and all my newly-arrived-to-LA crap … found a change of clothes, found some musical gear, kissed goodbye my wife and son and hit the 5 Freeway North in a cargo van with six other band members, first gig tomorrow night. It’s hardly a coincidence my life is so scattered. “Can I self-medicate now, please, Doctor, sir, please?”)

Truthfully ...  (yet not exactly), the biggest excuse for not getting around to this post until now -- ostensibly about my favorite subject, 7 inch 45’s, (I had promised something blog-like for the good people at Amoeba almost two weeks ago) -- touring was the first dent in responsibility, but the installation of the magic window that is cable TV in our new rental and just in time for the Tour de France was actually the culprit.

For me, July is inevitably about my birthday, BBQ’ed sausages on the 4th (just meat--none of this mango/pesto/tofu crap, save those ingredients for a smoothie) and bicycle racing in France. My money for the 2007 Tour was on Alexandre Vinokourov. He would have been my choice to win the Tour last year but his old team, Astana-Würth, was ripped to shreds after five of its riders were implicated in the “Operación Puerto” doping case and scandal, leaving Vinokourov with only three teammates and not even a pot to piss in (pun intended). Last year in 2006 Vinokourov wasn't implicated in the doping scandal, however as of this morning all that has changed. On Tuesday Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for a banned blood transfusion after winning last Saturday’s time trial, prompting him and his team Astana to pull out of the 2007 Tour de France. I’m broken hearted once again. “So it ain’t so Vino.”

Anyway. . . back to the business at hand. And my aesthetic point of view.

French records: One of my alltime favorite, and truly French singles I have ever heard is Gilbert Becaud,L’Orange” (ELECTROLA, 1964). Ok, I know what you’re thinking. “Of all the French artists to pick, why this guy? Where’s the Jacques Dutronc, or the Serge Gainsbourg, or some extremely cute ‘yeah yeah’ cut from France Gall or how about Brigitte Fontaine?

Well, I’ll get to the Dutronc singles another day. Gainsbourg is too easy. And as for Brigitte Fontaine, well, buy me a Renault, a pack of Gitanes and a one way ticket to Paris and I become that unhealthy fan/stalker who loves Brigitte Fontaine a bit too much (I’ll go into detail about some of her records later, but always under safe, intelligent, respectful and loving conditions)."

anyway, this song, “L’Orange,” is a freak show. Gilbert Becaud, the legendary "Monsieur 100,000 volts" (real name François Silly), also sang and co-wrote the original version of “What now my Love.” But this song!! A surprisingly up-tempo ditty that is almost a little too rocker for Becaud -- he is very much the straight and square French pop singer. Here though, it’s those whacked background singers that just make this record so downright bizarre. There are notes and voices everywhere--god forbid a little space! There are background singers everywhere, and I do mean everywhere, and right about the time you figure nothing else could happen…WEOW!!! A soprano sounding more like Fay Wray than Maria Callas shatters the wax!

What’s the song about? Stealing an orange (though don’t quote me on that, my French is surprisingly bad considering my wife and son both speak French, blinding me to their conspiracies). I’ve seen this song listed on a Becaud Greatest Hits CD collection, but I have no idea if it is this exact recording. I hope it is—wow, Monsieur 100,000 volts!!!! Take a goddamned bow!

I see “L’Orange” in its post-modern context and Gilbert Becaud as a product of his era, and in fact a product of the 60’s Situationists: “the ethical problem is one which arises in experience both as a reproach against the inadequacy of our relation to an environment and as a demand to act.”  In fact, I believe those are the original words to “What Now My Love.”

Relevant Tags

Pop Vocals (19), Tour De France (2), 1960's (84), Blather (58), Serge Gainsbourg (19), French Music (11)