J’écoute: songs for remembering

I love music. Not in the fanatic, must-have-something-playing-at-all-times way, but I am a strong appreciator of nearly all musical genres. Although my musical tastes are not very wide-ranging, I still have some favorite songs and albums (okay, most of them are musical soundtracks…). I haven’t ever sought or found refuge in music; I love music, but it’s not my life. (though I am envious of those who possess the immense musical knowledge and sensibility that I seem to lack). That said, there are some songs in my life that are so connected to a moment or a person, that the two are forever associated. My past year living in France has a lot of these songs, significant because of the person who introduced it to me, because of a new idea that arrived with the song, or just because of a particularly happy memory or joke that it represents. Here are some of those songs.

Get Me Bodied – Beyoncé

Don’t laugh. Queen B’s music may be “mainstream” but it is fun! This song was played LOUD in my apartment as we set up for a somewhat stressful Thanksgiving dinner for 15. The long and strong Beyoncé dance party we had that evening lightened the mood and let us blow off steam in the most fun and American way possible. It may have been one of the first times in France that I completely let it all hang loose, without worrying about making new friends, having to communicate in a foreign language, or be anything other than myself. Shoutout to Hannah for our friendship-solidifying choreography.

Runner Up: Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, for the constant dance breaks and parody lyrics created while on vacation.

Le temps des Cathédrals – Notre Dame de Paris

This is the opening song from a throughly opulent and absurd French/Québécois musical based on Victor Hugo’s famous novel Notre Dame de Paris (better known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame). As someone who grew up on American musical theatre, the country that invented and perfected the genre, this musical leaves A LOT to be desired, but the rest of the world does not seem to have the same super high standards as I do, because it has been wildly successful since its debut in 1998. I watched the entirety of this musical (available with English subtitles on YouTube!) with my friends and could not stop laughing at how ridiculous the whole thing was! I mean the opening song really says it all: three key changes in a row and a melody that goes through entire octaves in one breath. For the rest of the year, every time we walked into or by one of Europe’s fine churches: IL EST VENU LE TEMPS DES CATHEDRAAAAAAAAAALLESSSS!!! Plus, this was also my first brush with a French language musical, not all together a terrible experience!

Runner Up: Toi Mon Amour, Mon Ami – 8 Femmes, another bizarre but strangely enthralling French musical movie we watched, discussed who would play each role, and constantly sang along to.

Tomorrow – Amanda Lear

Amanda Lear is a fascinating character introduced to me by my friend Betta. She was a fashion model, disco queen, and longtime friend and muse of Salvador Dalí. Once you hear this song, you’ll understand why it became a staple at gatherings, with us of course always dissolving into giggles by the end of the refrain.

Runner UpPour ne pas vivre seul – Dalida, for just how often we talked about Dalida, with seemingly no context, and how these lyrics always came up in texts about not being able to meet up…

Vieni A Ballare In Puglia – Caparezza

I have always loved music as a way of entering into a foreign language and culture. There’s something very fun about being able to listen to a song with words that you can’t understand: it makes me appreciate the sound and rhythm of languages more. I don’t really know much about what this song is about and certainly not what the words mean, but I took so much joy in hearing my Italian friends’ anecdotes about growing up with this song, listening as they excitedly explained the song’s funny word play and allusions to recent Italian politics, and watching as they rapidly sang along in their native tongue.

Runner Up: Pecchè Nun Ce Ne Jammo In America – Renzo Arbore, for the cover art.

And I will end today’s installment with:

Earth Song – Michael Jackson


What songs hold special memories for you?? ❂

5 thoughts on “J’écoute: songs for remembering

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