Monday, November 28, 2011

Music In Bordeaux

I wish I could say that I spent most of my time digging through the culture of the city, but the reality is that work occupied all but a small fraction of the two weeks I was there. And yet there's always something to take note of, however small, because music is everywhere ...

My morning alarm was set to a soft rock radio station, it just happened to be the first non-talk station that turned up when I was scanning through the dial, and I never bothered to change it. Once they played a song from Gainsbourg's rather excellent "Percussions", and on a different day they played Alan Parsons Project's "Eye in the Sky" and I couldn't get it out of my head for days (I knew the song, but hadn't heard it in years, and never knew what the title was and didn't know it was by the Alan Parsons Project). Is it just me or does it sound a lot like Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now"?

Total Heaven is a music store in the St. Michel area of Bordeaux, and it's well worth visiting if you're a jazz, metal, or noise/experimental fan. It's even more worth the time to visit if you buy vinyl. The ongoing downward spiral of record stores is depressing, but it's balanced by vinyl's outright refusal to die. There are few things in life that make me feel happier than knowing that vinyl will outlive every format that came after it for (at least) the hundred or so years after its invention.

Do Make Say Think's "Other Truths" is really good, and now I feel bad for ignoring it when it came out two years ago. It's the most chilled thing they've ever done -- including their early dub-influenced stuff -- and thankfully they've done away with the vocal experiments. Funny how I had to travel to France to hear the music I used to regularly hear back home.*

Dub reggae bands at the Saturday protest of the week in Victoire, and rock bands playing in the store windows at Lafayette Homme.

In the taxi on the way to the Bordeaux airport at 5:30 AM, Bryan Adams "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" came on the radio. Like everyone else over the age of 30, I've probably heard that song one billion times, or approximately 999 999 997 times more than I would have liked. However this was the first time I really listened closely to the production, probably because it was dark and quiet in the taxi and my mind was too weary to concentrate on anything else. My mind did wander to the subject of "Bryan Adams: Can-Con Y/N?" that was all the rage in 1991, so maybe that's why I focused on the production of the track, I don't know. Anyway, it bears repeating that Mutt Lange is a genius. It's a spectacular sounding track, the guitars layering but not smothering the vocals, the gated drums, etc. Swap out Bryan Adams for Joe Elliott and it's a Def Leppard song, it could have been on "Hysteria", or at least it could have been the natural sequel to "Love Bites" instead of the execrable and equally treacle-filled "Two Steps Behind". And I have no idea how I never realized any of this until that moment.

* my French host used to work in Ottawa, so maybe I'm exaggerating the oddity of this a little bit.

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