Sunday, February 9, 2014

Name That Tune

One commonality between Julien and me is that we're relentlessly old school when it comes to technology. Not out of nostalgia or stubbornness- we're not luddites- it's just that neither of us really ever thinks about investing in hi-tech gadgets.

Smartphone, nope, GPS, nope, DVD player, nope, Tape deck in the car, yep. We have an eclectic and miniscule choice of tapes: Indian Jewelry's 'Peel It', Depeche Mode's Greatest Hits, and a French reggae cassette Volume 2. To mix things up once in a while, I'll turn on the radio, mostly landing on the ads which finish with "Pour votre santé, evitez de manger trop gras, trop sucré, salé" (For your health, avoid eating too many fats, sugars, or salt.) Every so often, between the ads, I'll find programmming on my 4 favorite stations.

1. FranceInter- the national public radio station, responsible for my quick improvement in listening comprehension when I first moved here. Usually interesting material and interviews, but occasionally painfully boring and pretentious like any public radio station in the free world.

2. RadioMega- features obscure music from independent artists worldwide. There's usually enough variety to engage all tastes and always something new. Makes for good conversation at dinner parties, even better if I could remember the artists' names.

3. Rires et Chansons- (Laughing and Songs)- and that's what it is, alternating recordings of stand-up comedy sketches with pop music. Either I only get about 70% of the jokes, or they're just not that funny.

4. Nostalgie- national oldies station, and to me a bizarre lesson in French music history. Nostalgie features French pop singers that Americans would know: Gainsbourg, Aznavour, Françoise Hardy, France Gall, but also massive French stars from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that are barely heard of outside l'Hexagone like Claude François, Eddy Mitchell, and of course, Johnny Hallyday. 

Given their success in France, these artists and their music can be expected, but what is surprising is the number of American and British songs that are covered in French. I would estimate that out of every 30 minutes of driving, Nostalgie plays at least one classic Brit/American oldies song redone by a French singer. Below are some that you can hear on any given day, do you recognize the tune?

Marylene- Martin Circus

Cette Année La- Claude François

Miss Caroline- Eddy Mitchell

 Les Portes du Pénitencier- Johnny Hallyday


  1. There may be no better cover of "Barbara Ann" than Martin Circus'. Lovin' the high energy on this video! Cool musical selections, Nancy. This totally plays to my fascination with French pop music - so neat to get a glimpse of lesser-known French bands/musicians.

    Now tell me more about this French reggae tape. Inquiring minds want to know...

  2. Yes, Martin Circus is/was actually Dutch, but always sang in French and is not really known in his home country. He wins the enthusiasm award. The reggae tape is..... there's a reason France isn't known for their reggae artists.