Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Françoise, Nicolas, Jean-Benoît et Jeanne

Let's toddle back to 1998 when Air released their, oft-copied/seldom matched, sci-fi lounge masterpiece Moon Safari. Tucked away on the b-side of simian-disco smash 'Sexy Boy' was a gem that saw them calling on the voice of a certain first lady of the French yé-yé scene.

This passed me by completely at the time, and though I loved the song 'Sexy Boy', I could only afford to buy the album and not the single too, and so I missed out on those bonus b-sides.  Instead I discovered something magical when my now wife and I did a tape swap, where we both compiled some Gallic-flavoured numbers for our first holiday together in Paris.

Back then, neither of us had much of a French record collection, so we had to be imaginative: anything with even a hint of the old ooh la la about it was recorded and sequenced, and a certain track on her C90 shone through. It was taped off an Elefant Records compilation Pop Romantique: French Pop Classics (1999) - a tasty little album if you can still find a copy: it has French language covers and originals including that Heavenly/France Gall one I posted recently; and Chaîne 17 contenders-by-proxy The Magnetic Fields doing a creaky version of 'Le Tourbillon' from Jules et Jim, that sounds like a busted old merry-go-round.

But I digress. The song by Air with a guest vocal by Françoise Hardy is entitled 'Jeanne' - a beautiful, breathy wisp of pastoral synth-pop with possibly the most melancholy oscillator solo I have ever heard. Make sure you have a handkerchief nearby before you listen...

Air feat. Françoise Hardy - Jeanne
[as mentioned above, this was issued as a b-side to Air's 'Sexy Boy' single, and also on Pop Romantique (Elefant Records/Emperor Norton). There are cheap used CD copies of both on the usual 2nd hand sites, and a couple of reasonably-priced vinyl copies of Pop Romantique on]


Darby said...

So beautiful.. I half expected it to be a French cover of 'Stairway to Heaven' at first :) I love Air's version of 'Au fond du rêve doré'.. I'd like to get a copy of the original by Françoise, but I can't find a decent one.. Thanks for the track, Dom!

Dom said...

Yep certainly is a beautiful collaboration. I'm afraid I don't have Françoise's original 'Au fond du rêve doré', but maybe someone ease out there in internet land can provide us with a copy...

Any takers?

Thanks for the comment, Darby.