Michel Legrand

Rest in Peace, Michel Legrand. Though it seems like you could write about little else these days besides politics and the death of the great artists of the 1960s, Legrand is a big one.

A composer of film scores and film songs, he straddled the world between the New Wave and the middle brow establishment. He was the French Mancini and Lalo Schifrin and Bachrach, and made music with Miles and Coltrane. Few of us can forget the first time we ever watched The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (and I’ve written in the past about Jacques Demy’s next film, The Young Girls of Rochefort).

Not long after discovering that, my wife and I watched The Donkey Skin (Le Peau D’Ans) and were blown away by the twisted Freudian fairytale.

It was years later when my mother gave me a CD of Legrand playing solo piano. I put it on for some background music one day, and my wife came into the room, spatula in hand, and recognized one of this songs, singing its chorus from memory.

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Legrand made music for 250 films…and looked good doing it.

“Is this from Le Peau D’Ans?!”

I looked it up and it was. Music is alchemy to me, and I was amazed that she remembered it so many years later, having heard it once. I guess it’s not so amazing, considering that’s what musicians do, put aural nuggets into our brains that we can’t forget. They add spiritual substance and feeling to narratives, and everything else.

His niece, incidentally, is Victoria Legrand, a graduate of Vassar and one half of the band Beach House. Rest in peace, Uncle Michel.

Poem For a Winter Morning

It’s hard to take good photos of sunrise. It’s worth trying only because of the sad but warm feeling you get when you try showing someone the cell phone snaps you took, and then explain to them that they really had to be there.

People present at bombings and other violent disasters sometimes say it was “just like in the movies.” In nature when the sun is at its most expressive, we think of landscape painters. This morning, blinded by the sun gleaming off the frosted branches, I thought of Turner:

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Coffee In Bed

We told each other stories about

our own courtship – biscuits made from

comic memories. The farmstand

milk in the coffee had a dank

terroir, unmistakably cow shit.

Deer outside fed on bushes just

an armslength from the carcass of

their roadkill sister. Everyone

was trapped in their own completion.

©2019 Charles Bowe