The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


'Un vague à l'âme' say the French in their wonderfully poetic way with expressions of feelings. A vagueness in the soul? Or a wave, like a spell of bad weather or the sea breaking on the shores of the soul? Anyway, it's what the French call the blues - not the type of music, but the type of feeling.

Jeanne MoreauThere's a Parisian way for everything, including feeling blue. After work you wander round town, listlessly down some boulevard or other. In a café or brasserie, tourists speak slow, loud English to streetwise waiters and you hope they don't recognise you as one of them.

The metro is full of tired, sad-eyed office workers going home; the Parisian working rhythm is metro-boulot-dodo (metro-job-sleep). In each station, drunks bed down on benches. Everyone seems down on their luck, daydreaming.

A famous scene in Louis Malle's 'Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud' (Lift To The Scaffold) captures the vague à l'âme perfectly. You may know it: Jeanne Moreau traipses along la rue, dawdling in front of shop windows and weaving around strolling couples. The soundtrack - sad, worn-out trumpeting - is by Miles Davis, from the period when he held court in Saint-Germain, once the jazz strip of Paris but now a rosary of boutique after boutique.

Both the film and soundtrack are marvellous. Here's the scene we were talking about:

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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.