Quite why this track was in my head this morning, I have no idea, but listening to it again, I’m reminded of just how much I love the lush string arrangements of this album. No wonder Beck ripped them off whole-heartedly for Sea Change.
Say what you like about Serge Gainsbourg, but L’histoire de Melody Nelson is one of those albums that is likely to just leave you reeling from greatness, and “Melody,” the lead track, something in particular that can’t be denied. Just listen to what really can be best described as a “groove,” with the bass guitar and shambling drums and spiraling guitar line, even before the strings sweep in and the whole thing becomes casually, breathtakingly epic.
(I also love spoken word tracks, if done well, and as far as I’m concerned, they don’t get any more well done than this, even if I can’t tell what Serge is actually saying.)
I first heard “Melody” when it was called “Don’t Die Just Yet,” from the David Holmes album Let’s Get Killed; he did a (very faithful) instrumental version of the track, re-titled after some graffiti he saw in New York. It’s a great track, albeit one that seems a little less impressive when you hear Gainsbourg’s original, but one that makes arguably more from that wonderful, wonderful bass line:
Those who haven’t tracked down either album, you should really go and fix that right now…