Today we warmly welcome author Nicola Yeager to Marcia’s Book Talk. Nicola, the author of contemporary romances such as PICTURE IMPERFECT, AFFAIRS OF THE HEART and SUMMER LOVING, provides a guide to the music for her latest release CHRISTMAS AT CAROL’S. An entertaining account with a definite French twist, without any further ado, I will now allow Nicola to elaborate on the details…
Christmas at Carol’s – The Musical.
A little guide to the music featured in Christmas at Carol’s by Nicola Yeager.
In my latest novel (Christmas at Carol’s, in case you missed it being mentioned twice above), one of the ideas that chef Carol Gabriel uses to improve her Bistro’s fortunes at Christmastime is to select some appropriate seasonal French music to play in the restaurant. As Carol’s mother puts it: ‘Keep it French. Don’t make it blatantly Christmassy. Make it unusual. Make it part of the whole experience. Make it memorable. Make it nostalgic. Make it magical.’
People who have read the book have often been curious about the music, a lot of which is relatively unknown in the UK and the US, so I thought I’d give a little background to a few of the pieces mentioned. I don’t speak French, by the way (OK, I did it in school, but you know…), but I can still enjoy and appreciate music which is sung in French (and sometimes spot the odd word that I recognise and, furthermore, understand!)
What I’ve chosen is a real mix ‘n’ match, so here, in no particular order…
‘Ah! Les Crocodiles.’ by Luce.
I have to say it – I love Luce. Her new album ‘Chaud’ is never off my stereo at the moment. She’s a former winner of Nouvelle Star (a bit like American Idol, I guess) and this song is from an album (La Fabrique à Comptines) of French children’s songs, none of which I was familiar with. She’s accompanied by music played on toy/children’s instruments and the album has twelve songs and then the tracks again but without the singing. It’s so quirky and weird that it always brings a smile to my face.
‘Gymnopédies Number Three’ by Erik Satie (played by Peter Lawson).
Chosen over the more popular ‘Gymnopédies Number One’ (one of those pieces of piano music that you’ve heard loads of times but are never sure who it’s by or what it’s called), this is a slow, gentle and very French piece. Composer Erik Satie was one of the avant-garde crowd in early twentieth century Paris and was a mate of Ravel, Cocteau and Picasso. All his stuff is lovely: I think of it as being ideal Sunday morning music. He always wore the same velvet jacket and was quite a heavy drinker, being a big fan of absinthe like many other artists of the time.
‘Fondu au Noir’ by Couer de Pirate.
Couer de Pirate (Pirate’s Heart) is the stage name of Béatrice Martin, a Canadian singer-songwriter who sings mostly in French. Her style of singing is closer to the older chanson style than most of her contemporaries and she is credited to bringing it to the attention of a new, younger audience. Although still only twenty-six, she’s been playing since she was fifteen, when she was a member of the post-hardcore band December Strikes. Her latest album, ’Roses’, has just been released.
‘Boum!’ by Charles Trenet.
Charles Trenet was a pretty famous French singer/songwriter in France, mainly in the nineteen thirties, forties and fifties. He wrote all his own songs, which was fairly unusual in those days. His best-known song is probably ‘La Mer’, which has been covered by many other singers and translated into English as ‘Beyond the Sea’. More recently, his song ‘Boum!’ was used in the Bond film Skyfall and was a favourite of demented baddy Silva (played by Javier Bardem), who was fond of blasting it from his helicopter.
‘Tous les Garçons et les Filles.’ by Françoise Hardy.
Born in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, Françoise Hardy has been a popular singer and cultural icon since the early nineteen sixties. This song, probably her most well-known in the UK, is about a girl who has never known love and her jealousy when she sees happy couples walk by hand in hand and looking into each other’s eyes. All her albums are still available and the double CD set ‘Françoise Hardy – The Vogue Years’ is well worth checking out.
‘Joe le Taxi.’ by Vanessa Paradis.
Recorded when she was only fourteen in nineteen eighty-seven, and reaching number three in the UK charts, ‘Joe le Taxi’ was the real start of Vanessa’s career both in music and in film, although she had already appeared singing on French television when she was eight years old. I’ve only just discovered her French language albums recently, though have been a long-term fan of the nineteen ninety-two Lenny Kravitz produced album ‘Vanessa Paradis’. Notice I didn’t mention Johnny Depp at all during this bit!
Christmas at Carol’s can be found on Amazon by clicking on this link: viewBook.at/ChristmasAtCarols
Find Nicola Yeager on Twitter – @NicolaYeager