Ahh, Mistinguett. In the late-1800's, she was just a tiny French lass named Jeanne Bourgeois (I'm not kidding, that was really her last name). As legend has it, she helped out her family by selling blossoms at cafes - and realized she could sell a whole lot more by singing. Not too long after, she made her first appearance at Casino de Paris, and the rest, as they say (no, they don't), is la history! She became Mistinguett. Just Mistinguett. Like Cher!
Mistinguett's is only one of many singers who appear on "Les Grandes Chansons Francaise" - a Tres-Tres Cheeful Exclusive! There's Piaf (of course), Maurice Chevalier, Tino Rossi, Jean Sablon, and oodles and oodles more. Perfect for listening to while you butter your croissant on a Sunday morning - but please, God, in Heaven, not with one of those damn cronuts. Like I'm going to wait in line for a pretentious donut? The French are laughing at us (the French are always laughing at us) (but then the word "killjoy" is of French origin, so don't feel bad).
Did you ever see "Less Than Zero," the 1987 movie with Robert Downey, Jr. and James Spader? Yeah, I did, too. Did you read the book by Brett Easton Ellis? Uh-huh. Did you like the movie better? Yeah, I did, too. Just looking at the movie - it's a visual feast. All ambers and golds, with cool blues and glistening surfaces and disorienting, skewed angles that say everything about L.A.'s amoral beauty in just half-a-glance.
The score by Thomas Newman (it's still his best) helped, too. It's so cushiony, so luxe, so depraved, just like the characters inhabiting its moneyed cocaine corridors. The score was never released commercially (that I know of) (Fox released one of those pop song albums instead), but why should you be deprived of this gorgeous, sometimes unnerving, music? Will it sound best if you're coming out of some blissful drug haze? Maybe, but I bet it'll make you feel like that anyway.
I'm fascinated by flappers. Look at the girl below, ready for a night out on the town. Speakeasies! Illegal hootch! Corrupting jazz! You just know she won't make it home till noon the next day. And don't even think about asking her what she had to do to get those pearls.
I like listening to the real thing when it comes to jazz from the 1920's, but sometimes it's a kick to hear it all spit-shined and modernized - if it's done well. Have no fear, dear readers, the 2-CD album below is one of the best you'll find in electro speakeasy jazz (how's that for a specialized genre?). As for the girl on the cover, I'm sure she'll be all too happy to tell you what she had to do to get her pearls. And with who. But, you know, different times. Barely.
The Secret Song File was a naughty girl in her teens - pretty, but naughty - then went through a housewifey phase. And now? She won't tell. And, yes, she still likes rock, even though most commercial rock leaves her cold. But not this Texas-based rock band, which has been flying under the radar for over a decade. That'll probably change with their spanking new CD which. Is. Awe. Sum.
But back to the Secret Song File. Does she have all the answers? Should she consent to treatment? It's not like her history is for sale or something. And yet it's so easy to be foiled. Someday she'll sway - this way and that - and maybe approach normal. Oh my God, too many hints. Is it October, yet? Are you feeling blue?
Speaking of pearls, Fellini once said, "The pearl is the oyster's autobiography."
Leave you own li'l pearl in the comments, if you like.