Song Of The Day 4/20/2015: Marie Laforêt – “Marie-douceur, Marie-colère”

Speaking In Tongues: Like yesterday’s entry in which Claude François essentially hijacked “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” for his own purposes, French singer Marie Laforêt’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black” has a story entirely separate from Jagger & Richards’ original lyric. “Marie douceur, Marie colère” (“Soft Mary, Angry Mary”) doesn’t echo the original’s heartbreaking junior nihilism. It’s more of a garden-variety examination of one’s duality, which was very novel at the time and made for a lot of misunderstood driving directions.

Laforêt was an actress first, working with Louis Malle and René Clément at the turn of the ’60s. She found musical success via her second film Saint Tropezi Blues, in which she sang the title song. She began releasing singles, and in an about-face to the youthful, fizzy-lifting escapism of the yé-yé scene of the time Laforêt played thoughtful, delicate music drawing from global folk traditions.

So covering the Stones was an internal shift of her own self, and may be reflected in her rewrite of “Paint It, Black.” “Soft Mary, that is how you nicknamed me/Of course, you think to know me better than anyone else/Angry Mary also exists, so pay good attention.” That’s a translation (from here) of the first three lines. From there she counter-programs against Mick Jagger’s wilting gray flower with assertiveness: “Soft Mary is much too gentle with you/If you insist on looking at the other girls/Angry Mary will no longer accept it/And she will jump on you with all claws unsheathed.” I know unsheathed claws sound like an exotic European delicacy, but trust me: it ain’t no escargot.

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