Out of Europe: A French Top Five

So as the news arrives that France has decided not to vote in a fascist president* (even if 11 million of them did vote for one –  what the fuck mes amies?) I thought that I’d revisit the Top Five / Out of Europe format with a quick list of those songs – a sort of “this is what we’re saying goodbye to” from those countries that will remain part of the EU long after our pathetically ego-driven and pig-ignorant leader has ripped us from it.

Already covered: Sweden

France is, of course, our closest neighbour. Living down in Kent I’ve always been aware of that proximity and, when I worked down by the coast I’d see it on a daily basis, the rising of the North’s cliffs and coast on the horizon, often pulling up for lunch, looking at it across the Channel and wondering about the culture that dwelt over such a small stretch of water and just how close, within reach exploring it was. It was my first taste of wanderlust.

As it would happen, I ended up spending a large amount of time in France and Paris a few years later as my wife was still living there for the first year or so of our relationship. As such, while you end up with mixed feelings about any country / place you spend a lot of time in, I hold many a fond memory for the place and most of these songs are tied up in that.

So…. in no particular order and trying to cover as good a spread of genres as possible….

Noir Désir – Lost

Yeah…. so; this kind of enters into the whole separation of art from artist and whether you a) can and b) is the art more important than the artist. Given that everything Noir Désir recorded preceded Bertrand Cantat’s violent and fatal assault of his girlfriend** it should be the case that one of France’s biggest rock band’s work remains free to stand alone but it’s a heavy shadow that’s been cast over it. Still, as I’ve said before – I wasn’t aware of this when I got into the band and I still enjoy the music as it reminds of me of my time there, having discovered them while sat in traffic in Paris and listening to the radio. This one comes from their final album des Visages des Figures, a more brooding affair than previous efforts but a successful one.

MC Solaar  – Nouveau western

A genius recasting of Serge Gainsbourg et Brigitte Bardot’s 1968 classic French song ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ – that song itself reportedly based on a poem Bonnie Parker had written moments before she and Clyde Barrow were gunned down. MC Solaar – or Claude M’Barali to give him his full name – was one of the first to get rap through to the mainstream in France. ‘Nouvaeu Western’ tackles racism and colonialism, is catchy as hell and features an absolutely brilliant video.

M83 – Kim & Jessie | Air – All I Need

If we’re talking French electronic music (and not discussing Jean-Michel Jarre) there’s got be three bands that will come up: Daft Punk, Air and M83. I like a bit of Daft Punk but couldn’t really say I listen to any of it enough to warrant a place for it here. M83’s ‘Kim & Jessie’ had me hooked from the opening with those monumental electric drum hits. There’s something so surging, nostalgic and warm about this song that’s irrefutably good. Air’s ‘All I Need’ from their first album Moon Safari (nearly 20 years old ffs) has a similar effect on me, just bliss.

Yann Tiersen – “J’y suis jamais allé”

Man I could probably fill another post with rambling about French films and their soundtracks and may well do at a later date when you know… procrastination allows.  I’d have to talk about Eric Serra’s soundtrack work and give off gas about Subway or how addictive I find from Enae Volare from Les Visiteurs and….  Let’s get this list finished first though.  Probably the most well known soundtrack and most obviously ‘French’ of the lot though is this piece from the mighty Yann Tiersen’s second album Rue des cascades as it would go on to feature in his soundtrack for Amelie five years later, catapulting it and Tiersen to a much greater audience. I still love it though, cliché as it may be.

This is, of course a quick list – ie; those that came to me first. If I sat down and gave it more thought then a) this would never get finished and posted and b) I would likely swap a few but then….

Honourable mentions:

Yael Naim – Paris

Alain Bashung – J’écume

Charlotte Gainsbourg – 5:55

Eric Serra – Guns and People

*I’m trying (clearly not completely succeeding) to avoid politics on this blog but I will say that while I celebrate any victory over far-right, holocaust-denying fascism I don’t believe Macron is a strong result either and the thing with his wife….. forget about it.

**Cantat was sentenced to 8 years in prison for Involuntary Manslaughter and was released on parole having served 4. During his time in prison his house was burnt down. After his release – much protested by the band made a brief attempt at returning but the guitarist called it quits citing  “emotional, human and musical differences” with Cantant and the band announced it was done. Cantant has continued in music though this remains a controversial discussion point in the musical press and community.

19 thoughts on “Out of Europe: A French Top Five

  1. In the past 6 months, autocratic leaders have been rejected in Austria, the Netherlands and now France. I don’t know what will happen in the September election in Germany but I no like the odds. The Putin/Trump effort to reshape the world in their image is failing all over the place and I find it very heartening. As to pathetically ego-driven and pig-ignorant leaders. Ms. May is practically a Rhodes scholar compared to our – get ready – evil, stupid, no-class, lying, narcissistic asshole. The probe continues into his ties to his master Putin and – God willin’ – he will be impeached by this time next year.

    • Glad to hear – from a seat from way outside the US it’s baffling that he hasn’t been already…. the war-mongering has already started, the idiotic tweets that bring nothing but shame on the office, the fact that there has not been one coherent sentence from his mouth… using the office to make money, conflicts of interests and putting national security at risk…. being sued for the travel ban…using the government’s website to promote his own business… oh, yeah, and being Putins cock-puppet.
      I imagine it’s a case that it needs to be an iron clad case, a knock out blow but surely the more of these things that seemingly slip past and he gets away with… exactly how much can the Republicans tolerate to get their nasty way with taxes and healthcare?

      • The GOP has no shame. What you are witnessing is their policy writ large – small government, favor the rich, screw the poor. As to tRump, he has a 96% approval rating amongst his cult followers. And yes, the law is the law and so, like Nixon, there has to be a smoking gun that points directly to him. Alas, we can not pull him down off his throne just because we despise him. I blame you guys and the Magna Carta. 😀

      • Well, that’s it, man. He’s still standing. But unless he finds an excuse to declare martial law or starts his own Reichstag fire, it’s effectively over. I don’t know exactly when it will happen but here are two words for me, you, and the rest of the world to get used to – President Pence.

      • This whole thing is baffling. It’s like you just want to grab em by the lapels and shake em “what the fuck? Why are you letting this happen?!”
        I’m not a crook
        I did not have sexual relations with that woman
        Russia is FakeNews…

      • What you have here is two sides – the Republicans who (at least for now) want this guy in office so they can ram through their Thatcher-esque policies. Did he collude with Russia? Who cares they say. As long as we screw the poor at the expense of the rich. (See, health care plan).

        On the other side are rational human beings. Who will win. It will take time. But we will win.

        If not, I might rather enjoy migrating to “Old Blighty” and being a Man of Kent. 😀

      • I’ll keep a cider in the fridge for you. Though I think you were likely born as far west of the Medway as is possible..

      • Not to keep coming back on this but I’m curious… there seems to be a buzz about in the news that the (now hacked off and on the aggressive) FBI has started executing warrants with a raid yesterday… is it a hopes up for nothing?

      • Tony, there was an FBI raid on a place in DC that had, I believe, done fund-raising for a Virginia candidate. To the best of my knowledge, it is wholly unrelated to the Russia probe. In fact, I’ve been watching the morning shows for over an hour and that raid never came up. All the buzz here is about not only tRump’s firing of the FBI director but also the fact that his surrogates (including the Vice President) have told one story which our sociopath-in-chief then contradicted in an interview, not to mention what he said in the dismissal letter.

        For their part, the FBI have said it’s business as usual and nothing will stop them from pursuing the Russia connection, wherever it may lead. All tRump managed to do was pour gasoline on the fire.

        Oh, and President Stupid had to cancel a planned visit to the FBI offices. He was advised he would not be warmly received.

      • Coming back to this again….. I mean; surely now that’s gotta be it?! Admitting that he decided a) to tell the Russians information received by an ally and b) that he believes it is his right to?
        Oh and now that he urged Comey to drop the Flynn investigation…. I mean, has the bell rung yet?

      • Well, the bell is ringing but we have to go through due process. The Comey memo has been subpoenaed. By a Republican, no less. This is going to take some time because removal of a President is no easy matter. But the wheels have started to come off the train and sooner rather than later, he will be impeached or resign. And if those tapes he tweeted about really exist, they too will be subpoenaed. If they contradict Comey’s version of events, he’s gone. Shades of Watergate. The good news is that our system of checks and balances is working. Bad news is he should never have gotten into office in the first place.

      • No, he’ll take as much down with him as he can. Trump’s stated policy – “If someone hits you, you hit them back harder.” He’s a complete and total narcissist whose worldview is how things affect him. Other people are black boxes that exist to either feed his ego or are made to go away. He was never at any point in time about “Making America Great Again” or “Draining the Swamp.” He used the feckless fools who voted for him to gain power. Many of them still defend him as they continue to be idiots. This is on their head. Lock him up!

    • Yeah… I know what you mean but Merkel certainly needs to go. She’s becoming more of a problem / thorn than a solution and her party has been in trouble in the local elections in Germany over the last year. Fingers are most definitely crossed. Germany is, as all other members, on the list for one of these posts and I’ll try to refrain from luftballoons

      • Hmm, ok. Well, we kinda like Merkel over here. But you’re closer to the situation in every sense of the word. Who should we be rooting for?

        Oh, BTW, in my diatribe against Trump I want to fully apologize. I completely forgot to say he’s a racist. My bad.

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