TamTam Books News

Friday, June 24, 2005:

This is the selection of songs and liner notes on the CD that will be given out free to the audience at the June 25, 2005 reading that will take place at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. The CD is moody, very moody. Yet, it expresses the world of TamTam Books. Come to the event and enjoy the reading and music. Look down below for the address and time.
Songs Listing and Notes:

1) D Pression Au-Dessus Du Jardin by Catherine Deneuve: A late Serge Gainsbourg piece done by a very good friend of his. Catherine Deneuve is not only a great French actress but also a rocker! This is a ballad that I find gorgeous and puts me in a dreamy world of one glass of wine too many.

2) Je Reve by Jacques Higelin: I believe the lyric is an actual poem by Boris Vian and the music is by Higelin. Jacques Higelin is a fascinating music/cultural figure in France. The term ‘underground’ fits him to a ‘t.’ He was part of the Paris May ’68 uprising – and is still doing amazing and new work. He is sort of a combination of David Bowie, folk singer, and theater person. Totally unpredictable.

3) Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais by Serge Gainsbourg: Beyond great. This is a beautiful song and is considered to be a classic in certain Parisian circles. It is a song about leaving your loved one – very tragic and cool at the same time.

4) Jean-Lou by Gillian Hills: The album cover got my attention because I thought it was Bardot – but no, it’s Gillian Hills. First of all she is an actress who was in “A Clockwork Orange” and “Les Liaisons dangereuses” (another Vian connection!) “Blow Up’” and the great British teen exploitation film “Beat Girl.” Oh and during the film activity she was also an Yé-Yé singer in France. Towards the later part of her recording career she started writing her own songs – which is rare for an Yé-Yé artist. Nevertheless she made some marvelous recordings – and this is one of them.

5) La Chanson De Prévert by Serge Gainsbourg: Another remarkable classic from this great artist. A tribute song to the poet Jacques Prévert, who made it a habit to hang out at the Saint-Germain-des-Prés clubs.

6) Le Bras Mécanique by Jacques Dutronc: Like Gainsbourg, Durtonc is an amazing songwriter and performer. When you see pictures of him he looks like a swingin’ rat pack type of artist – but in reality he sounds more like a pissed-off Ray Davies of the Kinks. But with a lot of humor thrown into the mix. This song rocks. Lyrics by Gainsbourg.

7) Le Déserteur by Boris Vian: One of the great classic songs by the man who my life is devoted to. This is probably the ultimate anti-war song ever. In fact it goes beyond that – it’s anti-military. It is such an ultimate anti-war song that even Peter, Paul & Mary did a cover sometime in the mid-60’s.

8) Le Déserteur by Serge Reggiani: A classy version by the great actor and performer Serge Reggiani. He was in Melville’s great crime flick “Le doulos” and Visconti’s “The Leopard.” He was also a poet and painter. But my major interest in him was his interest in Vian’s songs. He must have known him during the 50’s – and Reggiani recorded a lot of his work.

9) Le train du nord by Felix Leclerc: A singer and writer from Quebec – and beyond that I don’t have any further information about this artist. What struck me was the Sam Philips/Sun Records style of production on this particular recording (late 40’s). Due to the fact that I bought this recording thinking it was part of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés scene – where in fact it was probably recorded somewhere in the area – is a slight misunderstanding. But like everything I do, misunderstandings often lead, in the future, to better understandings.

10) Les Amours Perdues by Serge Gainsbourg: This beautiful tune came from an early classic album by Gainsbourg called” L'étonnant Serge Gainsbourg.” For those who are interested, there are at least four or five different musical paths Gainsbourg traveled in. Cuban-jazz, jazz pop, pure French pop, electro-pop (I refuse to use the term ‘new wave’), and Latin tinged pop. What is the worst period music wise for Gainsbourg? None! Yes, he has made some bad records, but only for the purpose to expose his genius. Right?

11) Les sucettes by France Gall: The very definition of Yé-Yé. But with the added sour twist of the song written by Gainsbourg. At the time teenage Gall thought the song was about the enjoyment of sucking on candy – but it seemed to Gainsbourg and various ‘dirty-minded’ listeners that the song had a double meaning.

12) Maintenant Il Téléphone by Gillian Hills: The ultimate groovy organ sound and sort of a white French blues ‘bratty’ voice kicks in – and I can imagine being on the beach somewhere near Cannes kicking the sand (or is it small rocks?) by twisting the evening away.

13) Maxim's by Serge Gainsbourg: A song about a nightclub in Paris – done in a very smoky low energy (but with great feeling) style. I can breathe the smoke in by just listening to this recording.

14) Maxim’s by Serge Reggiani: A cover of the above song. Reggiani gives it a bigger production, but still slinky and velvet like. He’s a beautiful singer and Reggiani gives the song a twisted sadness.

15) Nefertiti by France Gall: Another classic from the pen of Gainsbourg – as well as France Gall getting grown-up like with the onslaught of the psychedelic 60’s. This came from her classic ‘1968’ album.

16) Opium by Jacques Dutronc – Another Gainsbourg/Dutronc song – with the additional vocals by Bambou, who was Gainsbourg’s girlfriend at the time. The song was recorded in the late 80’s and it is amazing the high standards that Gainsbourg (his third decade in music making) and Dutronc (his second decade in music making) were still doing great stuff. This is a great song title and the song sounds like the title.

17) Quand J'aurais Du Vent Dans Mon Crâne by Serge Reggiani: This song is co-written by Vian and Gainsbourg. I am presuming that this is another poem by Vian and the music is by Gainsbourg. Whatever! It is a great song, and Reggiani is the secret hero on this CD collection. Beautiful arrangement by Jean-Claude Pelletier.

18) Sans Toi by Michel Legrand: This is from the great soundtrack to the film “Cleo From 5 to 7.” I am going to presume that the singer is Corinne Marchand, the star of the film. The whole sequence from the film where this song comes from is amazing. It takes place in her studio apartment and Legrand in the film is playing the piano. Besides the visuals that the song brings to my brain, the song melts my heart. I love this film and I love this song. This song is on here because the film is great and Legrand surely knew Gainsbourg and Vian.

19) Scenic Railway by Serge Gainsbourg: The ultimate song by the greatest songwriter in the 20th Century (along with Ron and Russell Mael). The sparseness and the coldness in Gainsbourg’s voice give me the chill in my backbone. Mick Harvey also did a great version of this song on one of his tribute albums to Gainsbourg. One should check that out as well. But really the guitar playing on this recording is perfect.

20) Ses Baisers Me Grisaient by Nana Mouskouri: This is “Kisses are Sweeter Than Wine.” Vian translated the lyrics into French and here we have the No. 1 pop singer of Europe Nana Mouskouri doing a great version of the song.

21) Speak Low by Henri Salvador: The great Kurt Weil tune done by France’s Mr. Showbizness. Salvador is a great artist. He wrote a series of songs with Vian right before he passed away. According to Pink Frankenstein, Salvador and Vian wrote the first French rock n’ roll song! This version of ‘Speak Low’ comes from an incredible album called “Salvador Plays the Blues.” A must-have album!

22) La Belle Putain by Michel Legrand: Once again (and for the last time) another cut from the “Cleo From 5 to 7” soundtrack. Corinne Marchland’s big hit record that is played in the film. There’s Paris, and then there is Agnés Varda’s Paris. A great trashy throw away type of song that works for me.

23) La Decadanse by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: The faultless ending to this C.D. This is such a perfect beautiful recording. You are about to sleep with a beautiful woman, yet you feel sad. Why? If you hear this C.D. and you are not curious to hear more of Gainsbourg – then stay away from me!

Tosh // 10:25 PM

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The wonderful world of TamTam Books by publisher Tosh Berman