posted on March 25, 2008 16:07
Last Friday being March 21, this Easter weekend was officially the start of spring. Paris is famous for being beautiful in springtime - and your blogger can confirm that the city looks and feels fantastic at the moment.
At lunchtime today the sun was shining. We strolled down the Champs-Elysées, where the trees were beginning to show new leaves. Across Place de la Concorde to the Tuileries, with the Musée d'Orsay to the right across the river and the Louvre straight ahead. The Seine was swollen with brown water from faraway mountains; artists sat on the bank sketching the Ile de la Cité with swooping pencil strokes. Most of the weekend tourists had left for home, so both banks were relatively quiet. Bliss was it in that afternoon to be alive...
...and then around four o'clock a large black rubbish bag of a cloud tore open and spilled rain on everyone. Back to work tomorrow, then.
If you live in Paris, springtime is also when you start dreaming of escape from the city. If you listen carefully over the din of traffic on the boulevards, you can hear fresh new grass rustling in the mountain breeze, bicycle wheels whirring down country lanes, church bells ringing over villages and valleys.
There's a song on the radio these days which captures this longing to burst out of the city and into the country. Poney Express (left) are a duo, Anna and Robin. They make the sort of breezy acoustic pop that lots of French acts seem to be exploring these days (Cocoon being our favourite).
Aside from his Poney Express work, Robin is the bass player with popular French indie band Louise Attaque. Popular, that is, except with your Paris correspondent. In our very first French Letter article, back in January 2006, we named them as being among the chief culprits in making the tuneless, joyless rock that dominated the French scene on our arrival. Thankfully, we've found loads of brilliant French pop since then - and Robin's new act is higher in melodies and joie de vivre than his old one.
The song we're talking about, 'Paris De Loin' ('Paris from afar'), exudes this desire to escape the capital. It opens with a pulsating bassline full of adrenaline, and then bursts free with acoustic strumming and brushed drumming like those whirring bicycle wheels we described above. By the time Anna and her breathy voice gets to the opening line ("Quitter Paris..." - 'Leave Paris...') you're already miles away in some rural paradise, drinking wine and eating fine food in the sunshine.
Poney Express have plenty other nice songs which you can hear on their MySpace page. In May they'll be supporting Jonathan Richman when the great man tours France before visiting Ireland. Which reminds us that there's an Irish connection to Poney Express - Sean O'Hagan arranged the strings on 'Daisy Street', their forthcoming album.
There's no official video yet for 'Paris De Loin', but someone in the YouTube community has obliged with the customary song + still photo home-made video. And here's an acoustic version of the song that the pair performed for the Takeaway Shows:
Paris De Loin