nicholas (nick) hamnett
"The other holds the secret of what I am"
This track is my phone's ringtone.I'd call it the best track in French ever. Other French favourites are, Charles Trenet's "La Mer," and "Sur le Pont d'Avignon" which all kids from my era know from the French classes we didn't learn anything from at junior school.However, don't be put off if French isn't your first language! This tune is so outstanding, the language is irrelevant.
Some music just sets you on fire.This track is like that.I put it on whenever I want to feel energised or uplifted.Makes me think of actor Robert Hardy (Tim to his friends) who I had the pleasure of working with on the BBC TV show, "All Creatures Great And Small." He'd turn up on set each morning..."Bom-bom-de- bom..!" to the sound of Beethoven, blasting into the Yorkshire Dales from his Land Rover (Well, he was Royalty related).I suppose, after years of doing the show, he needed something loud and stirring like that to spark the fires of his inspiration (Stanislavsky can only take you so far).I myself, at one time, couldn't shake myself out of bed without listening to a certain piece by Elgar.Now I'm finding Ecoute Ma Melodie similarly inspiring.This track is cooler for the kids than fusty old Elgar though, and it's less bombastic than Beethoven. It's more likely to inspire
you to want to jig just a little, too.
Ecoute Ma Melodie excited me the same way the Beatles' "Twist and Shout" did when I first encountered it, as a child.
Or the way Nick Cave's "Breathless" does as an adult, with its sense of joyous yearning.Ecoute, is the sort of tune that would encourage, even the shyest of dancers onto the floor to shake a leg.I have indeed danced around the room a few times to it when no one was watching.
There was a time when I was much younger that any sniff of a foreign language would have had me reaching for the off button.I never then would have watched a film, as I'm happy to do today, with subtitles.And certainly I didn't listen to foreign language songs.It
was partly the British in me.We never have been the best at languages.
Fortunately, things for me, at least, have changed, and now I have a smattering of a couple of tongues, I find much more pleasure in songs like this one.Sometimes I even bother to try and translate the lyrics.These lyrics are all about a guy trying to get the girl he loves to listen to the words of his heart. "Listen To My Melody!" (If only she had!)
I remember listening to my first songs in Spanish whilst living in Ciudad Real.One singer, Niña Pastori, struck
me in particular, with her song, "Morao." When I first heard that strange fusion between pop and something more Flamenco-like (I think her dad may have been a famous Flamenco singer?) I said to myself, "What the hell is that? Sounds like the noises of a dying cat!" (And having seen a cat die horribly, by the roadside in Germany once, I do know exactly what that sounds like)
Now I love "Morao." It's my favourite Spanish tune.I love the singing, I love the melody, I love the power it has on me to conjur up the very soul of that most wonderful of countries.It
also makes me think of carefree children running barefoot in a hot and dusty landscape. Spain makes even adults feel young and full of joy and sweet spirit.As everyone knows from Cervantes, Spain brings out the dreamer in you.
But this is a French song we are talking about here.At
least the language is French.The band themselves are African. For this band's members knowing French is, perhaps, the more positive legacy of colonialism.
So please, give Orchestre Poly-Rythmo a spin (I'm showing my age there, but "a tap on your i-phone" doesn't quite have the same ring!). I do know foreign languages can be off-putting, especially when you are young; just like reading certain Classics can be for some (I did eventually read Don Quixote, and more than once).
It isn't always cool and down with the kids to associate yourself with languages, or with learning of any kind.I remember that from my early twenties, when on a bus, in Sheffield, late one Friday night, a guy staggered drunkenly over to me, leering and motioning to his mates as he pointed with a shaky hand to the tome I was quietly reading
and shouted in disbelief: "HE'S READIN' A FUCKIN' BOOK!!"
Hopefully you won't feel such consternation on me encouraging you to ecoute this particular melody! So let it light up your soul. And if it should encourage anyone to be more open to things foreign, well, right now that would be a plus.Don't you think, Monsieur Farage? (Repeat after me: I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ENOUGH SPACE FOR MY GROWING VINYL COLLECTION, BUT I WILL NOT HATE MY RECORDS FOR IT!)