De la country à la musique expérimentale, les proches d’Alain Bashung racontent à Charline Lecarpentier ses émois musicaux.
Alain Bashung was not a socialite. Few people entered his bubble. “One does not let me dream,” he once heard the musician Rodolphe Burger moan as they prepared to enter the studio. His intimate relationship to the music of others remained only more valuable. “I’m a cowboy at Paname, but it’s Dylan’s fault,” he sang in his early days. Ten years after his disappearance, the emptiness he left is not close to being filled. Moreover, from rap to song, the specter of those who claim his legacy is wide. Almost as broad, in fact, as the many influences of Bashung himself, as described by his entourage, while his historic label Barclay unites his work in an integral spiced by lives and a handful of unpublished .
JEAN FAUQUE, SINGER AND LYRICIST OF ALAIN BASHUNG
“When I met Alain in 1975, he had an impressive nightclub and an amp that could be plugged into two headsets. It was a HLM and you should not be too loud. We spent nights listening to very underground things like Kraftwerk and Robert Wyatt before ending up with country music. We lived a blessed period, there was a new musical wave every five years. He loved the punks, the new wave and this mysterious band, The Residents .
But there was finally not enough English, it was rather American. Not an album of Bob Dylan escaped him, it is understood in his way to crush the phrasing … He listened to few French artists, we made the song but that did not interest us. There was just this revelation that upset him emotionally and musically in 1993 during the recording of Chatterton in Brussels when we listened until the dawn of the complete Léo Ferré . We fell to the ground. It was wrong to have not considered earlier his case. The song called “I have long contemplated” was composed in stride. In France, except Leo, he still liked Gainsbourg . Work with him on Play Injuries was a dream. Towards the end, he introduced me to Gérard Manset . Alain’s mother tongue was German. He also heard a lot of English on radios at the American base near Strasbourg, which was broadcasting in Alsace. This is what I think explains his company of torture of the French language. He wanted to understand it better. “
CHLOÉ MONS, MUSICIAN AND WIFE OF ALAIN BASHUNG
“The more years passed, the more Alain was attached to the simple and comforting values of the country. The Walker Brothers spoke to him a lot because Scott Walker had started in a classical form before also embarking on experimentation. Seeing how music advances with the life of a man fascinated him. Among the pioneers , Gene Vincent or Jerry Lee Lewis were very important to him. This madness of the pastor who rocked on the side of the devil, all this ambivalence of rock’n’roll interested him a lot.
He particularly liked the second knives. He preferred Bobby Darrin, Johnny Mathis or Harry Nilsson to Presley and Sinatra . He loved the Highwaymen of course, including his favorites Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson . When we sang together as a duo, he compared us to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris . One of our great pleasures was to go to Tower Records in London to buy a lot of things, even experimental ones. That’s how he discovered the records of Marc Ribot or Mr. Wardwith whom he then wanted to work. They too play with codes from the past. “
YANN PÉCHIN, GUITARIST, HAS LONG ACCOMPANIED ALAIN BASHUNG ON TOUR
“The first thing we talked about was Moondog , who was a kind of Brian Eno before the hour. Alain, because of his Kabyle origins, was very sensitive to repetitive rhythmic music, whether or not it was electronic. We can also hear about his experiments on the album Climax . Every time I came to Alain and Chloe’s, I arrived with records under his arm and he made me follow albums.
If his passion for music started with precursors, from Gene Vincent to Jerry Lee Lewis , he also had a big flash with the arrival of cold wave and new wave . Artists mark him every decade, like Martin Hannet at the time of Joy Division or the Young Marble Giants . It was he who introduced me to Richard Hawley , whom I did not know and whom he listened to a lot at the end of his life. He listened to music all the time and I can assure you that when he was president of the Prix Constantin, he had heard the two hundred records. ”
RODOLPHE BURGER, SINGER, COLLABORATOR ON THE ALBUMS FANTAISIE MILITAIRE, SONG OF SONGS, ETC.
“Alain often spoke about the famous Talk Talk Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock , and the one that followed under the name Mark Hollis.. He adored them and me too. The music is splendid but it is also the very radical step of Mark Hollis who spoke to him. Talk Talk was making industrial pop with some success, and strong of it, Hollis had completely broken with the label EMI to afford a musical research album with his group then solo, before disappearing for good. This idea of an artist who sacrifices success in the name of an artistic requirement has made Mark Hollis a quasi-heroic figure for Alain. It is a question of raising the level in a context of an industry with which it is necessary to trick to pass the maximum of music. I could see that at times, Alain was also in a form of inner struggle to protect his freedom. “
Immortal , the complete 1977-2018 (Barclay). Released March 1st
This article can be found in the issue 66 (March 2019) of Vanity Fair France.