It must be one of those days, one of those foggy dreamy days when I wish I didn’t have to do anything, but I do. It must be one of those warmer-than-autumn type of days that make me think that the warmth will be gone soon, that the year is winding down now, one of those days when I would happily laze about the floors and wait the way I used to. But I’m not.
But I am feeling nostalgic. When I was living in France, I went digging up a little fanzine that a friend of mine knew. She had written there once or twice, as had some other friends… largely because of a guy named Serge who was one of the fun-loving (at the time) romance language people. Cute title, in that verlan tradition of mixing up words like incorruptible to make inrockuptible, yes very clever. But at any rate, there was that connection, and they indeed loved sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, and I bought the magazine for the time I lived and breathed Paris, literally. Gave all the mags to my friend for her birthday.
Well, flash forward a few years… several years. I found the much larger, much glossier magazine in Montreal, and immediately subscribed. They sent me CDs all the time of things I had never even heard about, not just new things, but all sorts of things–not that it was much of a stretch to find things I had never heard at that time of my life. But I still listen to much of it even now.
So, just last night, pouring myself a nice glass of red wine and thinking of spring, and Paris, and love, I could not help thinking of Helen Merrill’s rendition of “Lilac Wine”. I listen now at times, in my car late at night, on nights that I am not myself drinking, but feeling in a particular frame of mind, and I get all giddy and stargazed. It probably is that side of myself that I try to hide but then, on those nights, it never matters. I simply enjoy the drunken passion as she sings it.
Unfortunately, youtube has let me down in not supplying the version I want to share with you. Jeff Buckley sang this, too, and a lot of people seem to like that version for its vulnerability. It just doesn’t hit me in that same way… I don’t know. Maybe I need violins. But here is one rather artistic video from Doc Martens (yes, the shoes) with Elkie Brooks singing, just so you get the idea of what it is all about.
This is all quite nice, but I don’t quite feel that swaying stupor I get with Helen Merrill’s version. But here, perhaps you’ll just have to imagine it. Listen to this, then try.. if you are so inclined.
Incidentally, rumor has it that lilac wine is poisonous. But I think whoever said that was just being melodramatic.