This week, I present 5 mellow gems from the 70’s and 80’s. I have left an absolute corker till the end. Enjoy the music!
“La Vie en Rose” by Grace Jones
Ever since its release in 1947, Édith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” has been covered by many. The cover by Grace Jones is by far my favourite. She gives this classic track the Bossa Nova treatment, and subsequently made it her first ever international hit. I just always think of the cute Miss Dior ad featuring Natalie Portman, as it is Jones’ cover which was used. Her bold musical and aesthetical styles made her an icon, and she really gives this track the Grace Jones touch. In an interview, Jones once stated that she gets emotional every time she sings it as she remembers all the French lovers she had. Sigh.
“Vienna” by Billy Joel
Last night, I watched 13 Going on 30 (a great film!) and remembered this song. “Vienna” is another gem from Joel’s The Stranger album, released in 1977 – an album considered to be his magnum opus. It is absolutely lovely! It is the perfect song to remind you to slow down, take care of yourself and keep your chin up. Billy Joel’s voice is just wonderful! Released originally as the B-side track of “She’s Always a Woman” (another stunning track), it is actually one of Billy Joel’s favourites. It is totally underrated. If you want a listen, click here.
“The End of the Innocence” by Don Henley
Don Henley did not only have a brilliant spell upon founding Eagles, but also had a successful solo career. This lovely track is one of bittersweet nostalgia, which reflects on the lost innocence of childhood and of times gone by. Bruce Hornsby wrote the song years before and also plays piano on it. It is a wonderful track to listen to in the evening. Here are a couple of fun facts about Don Henley:
- He has had a lot of interesting girlfriends, including Stevie Nicks and Moonraker’s Lois Chiles.
- He is estimated to be the fourth wealthiest drummer in the world, behind Ringo Starr, Phil Collins and Dave Grohl, with a $200 million fortune.
Check out a live performance of the song here.
“Cemetery Gates” by The Smiths
This track encompasses The Smiths’ iconic blend of playful, upbeat music and morbid contemplation of mortality. It narrates one’s journey through a cemetery, and the sadness he feels during his time there. Morrissey himself would take walks around the Southern Cemetery in Manchester in his youth, and used this pastime to write “Cemetery Gates”. It is a great summer song about being outside and the joy of childhood, although set as the foreground to the many corpses buried in the cemetery. Such is the spirit of The Smiths! Check out when the song was performed in Wolverhampton in 1986:
“Forbidden Colours” by Ryuichi Sakamoto & David Sylvian
Okay, I have left one of the most fascinating songs until last. “Forbidden Colours” is a stunning blend of British and Japanese musical culture, a gem in the overall amazing soundtrack for the 1983 movie Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, which follows the lives of four men in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. It even stars David Bowie! If war dramas are not your cup of tea, I will definitely listen to the soundtrack – it is truly beautiful! Click here to listen to the full OST on YouTube.
“Forbidden Colours” is not only an amazing track, but significant for music history in general. The haunting voice and artsy persona of Japan’s David Sylvian and the genius of electronic giant Ryuichi Sakamoto make a formidable pair. In fact, it is a dream combo as Sakamoto himself inspired Sylvian to incorporate electronic music into Japan’s repertoire. Sylvian’s Japan would have not been the same without Sakamoto’s influence with the Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra. After their formation in 1978, YMO was one of the most influential bands for the birth of Britain’s electronic music scenes in the 70s/80s, also inspiring the paths for Duran Duran and The Human League. Just a note on David Sylvian for those who have not heard of him: he is as ominous and eerie as his music. Check out “Forbidden Colours” below:
I hope you enjoyed this week’s selection! For last week’s picks, click here.
Until next week,
From Sophia with Love x