For his performance we are training, don’t worry about the age, venerable, of Murray Head! Before his concert in Mandelieu this Tuesday evening, the artist was already overflowing with energy, during our interview at the hotel Casarose. A flood of words worthy of a deluge of decibels, where English thought makes its way through French discourse, from digressions to positions. At the Robinson Theatre, he will completely reinterpret the ten songs from his flagship album released in 1975, even if collective memory has retained only the eponymous title, Say It Ain’t So Joe.
Long before the international hit of One Night In Bangkok (in a completely different register), Say It Ain’t So Joe is a “huge” hit in France, the unavoidable slow on which many couples have agreed… on the basis of an equally huge misinterpretation! Because what fans took for a romantic ballad was in fact a scathing political pamphlet.
“A ‘wonderful love song’!”
“At the time, there were Nixon’s lies, and the idea of the song (through the story of a baseball star involved in a match-fixing affair, which provokes the disbelief of fans, editor’s note) was to invoke the powerlessness of people against the heads of state, who don’t care about us, as soon as they are electeddecrypts the songwriter. When we released this 45 rpm, I had asked my record company to include a translation, but they refused, on the pretext that the French would understand perfectly! But I know very well that hearing and understanding are not the same!”
It doesn’t matter if the protesting words fly away. The melody hits the mark, and the success quickly exceeds the intentions.
“The fans were congratulating me for my ”great love song”, and I retorted to them: ”But no, it’s political!” Thanks to the French who didn’t understand anything, my rage continueslaughs Murray. And then in the end, we don’t care. Years later, women whispered in my ear: ”Sir, my son was conceived on your song”, so somewhere, I’m happy to have participated in the demography of this country, it’s better than railing against politics, which has never been worse than today!”
We suspect that for this Englishman, Boris Johnson’s Brexit is not his cup of tea. Because the country of Frenchies gradually became his second home.
“But very slowly”, he says. The parents’ fault “francofous” as he says. A father who drives a Citroën, a mother who plays Madame Maigret for the BBC. And little Murray wiping his bottoms on the benches of the French high school in London.
France, love story
“I was enrolled there when I was four years old, but it was very hard at first because they spoke French to me right away. I tried asthma attacks to get out of it, but my parents stuck me there two years later”, he says in a language of Molière almost devoid of any Birkin accent. For the Head family, France is also synonymous with holidays. “Every summer, we spent them in your campsites. But our interests were contradictory.”
While the parents dismantle and move the tent according to visits to heritage and historical sites, their musician son takes out his guitar in the hope of playing “to us the little French girls”.
“Alas, I barely had time to scratch a Beatles title, that we were already changing campsites, it was very frustrating!”
Today, Murray Head is full of praise for “humor, wine, food or the women of France, so beautiful to watch”, even if he remarried to a compatriot, at 72 years old. Anyone who renovated an old 17th century building in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques also remembers his three years spent on the Côte d’Azur, in a villa located in the hinterland of Vence. Where the Stones had once stayed, and Roger Waters writes The Wall. Murray Head must then perform at the Théâtre de Verdure in Nice, “in the eighties of the time of Jacques Médecin”. But the tent collapses, and the concert is moved elsewhere, to a parking lot, without bleachers. Then the singer addresses the audience: “At the time of the municipal elections, consider that your mayor doesn’t care that you spent two hours standing while a few meters away there are bleachers for the flower festival! The next day, Radio Baie des Anges was broadcasting : ”Murray Head is very nice, but he must not meddle in our affairs!” “ (laughs)
Rock look for protest spirit. Folk culture, with melodies that touch the heart. This Tuesday evening, he was not only singing Say It Ain’t So Joe, but the whole of the album, which undoubtedly characterizes it the best. Definitely calmed down? Heard smile: “Even though I’m damn old, I know I might still have something to say before I die.” So, Say It, Murray!
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In concert in Mandelieu, Murray Head recounts his misunderstood hit
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