Music

“I live in my piano”

“I live in my piano”

The meeting had however started badly. ” Hey, is there a second gentleman from the JDD coming? It’s getting worse and worse… And he asks questions too?In the suite where Michel Polnareff welcomes us, the atmosphere is at first icy. The reason ? The article that the newspaper devoted to him in December 2016 . Citing serious health problems, the singer had just canceled the end of his French tour, in Paris and Nantes. The producer Gilbert Coullier had then dispatched a bailiff to the palace where the artist was staying, as reported by the JDD.

Six years later, justice has not yet definitively decided and the resentment of the singer remains intact against an article in his eyes biased… “ You wrote crap, there are no other words, that make me look like a guy who pretends to be sick while I was in the hospital dying! I don’t hide it from you, you arrive with a flag that I don’t like. »

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The interview could have stopped on this exchange of pleasantries, but we wanted to know a little more about his new album, Polnareff sings Polnareffwhich comes out four years after its last opus, aptly titled Finally !and which marked his return after twenty-eight years without new songs. This time he has chosen to revisit his work on the bone with a re-reading of 12 house classics in piano-voice version: The doll who says no,The Laze Ball,Under what star was I born?…

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Through this stylistic exercise, it is a melodic treasure that reappears under a new harmonic clarity. Favoring the period 1966-1972, the selection focuses on this blessed era when the musician chained the numbers one. For the occasion, the sphinx of French song has therefore left its desert of Palm Springs (California) to regain a foothold in France. At 78 years old and despite the jet lag, the man still has a sharp mind and a unique style: two connected watches on his wrist, denim shirt open on an oval pendant and platinum hair matching his tan, not to mention a bottle of champagne at hand, even if the atmosphere was not conducive to toasting…

Is this cover album your idea?
It was my new manager, Serge Khalifa, who suggested that I revisit my classics in a piano-voice version. At first, I thought to myself:But wait, why am I doing this? If I go back to my iconic stuff, everyone will think I’m out of inspiration.And then, I let myself be convinced. The fans wanted me to do it for a very long time, they wanted to hear a piano-voice. And I confess to being proud of the result.

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Your voice stands the test of time. How do you preserve it?
Well, she’s not in danger, so I’m not trying to preserve her. I never vocalize for practice or maintenance. I am very happy that she is still there, because I had my doubts myself.

Really ?
Yes, it’s true. An artist who does not doubt is not an artist.

So you are reassured…
To be an artist? Yes.

Were you worried that your fans would think you were out of inspiration?
No, no, they’ll follow me no matter what. I’m talking about people like you who can tell each other… Did you think that, by the way?

I’m naked with the listener next to me

We are not in your head… But in Longtime, a song from your previous record, you said: “Every day, I write anything, “I only love you” heard millions of times.» Are you sometimes afraid of repeating yourself?
You are confusing two things: song lyrics and real life. It’s exactly like when you go to the cinema: you see a guy who dies and you find him in a restaurant two hours later. It’s not the same thing.

So you are a bit of an actor when you sing?
That’s not what I’m saying. I give you a comparative example. But, yes, I compose regularly. They are not songs yet, since there are no lyrics. I write the music first, always. Elton John is the opposite, I don’t know how he does it! Either way, he does it well. I also composed an opera – not a rock opera, a classical opera. So, yes, I have music in stock.

So you didn’t want to come back with new songs?
You can’t do everything at the same time. For the moment, we stay on Polnareff sings Polnareff. I have no agenda.

We know your sense of perfectionism. He is your worst enemy?
It’s an asset, but I didn’t apply it at all to this album: we don’t refine, we leave things as they are; if there are small defects, it is a plus. I wanted something organic. It is a project that is true. Not that my other albums are fake, but inevitably there is a sanitized side to things that we want to be perfect. Without these small imperfections, this disc would not have this truth. This is by far the album that I recorded the fastest in my career: three months. It’s neither a pleasure nor a displeasure, it just happened like that.

Did you record it at home?
Yes, it’s the joy of having a studio at home. Everything happened very simply, day and night, without any constraints. I can record at any time, when I want to and not when I have to.

Read also – Polnareff, the eclipses of a star

On the cover of the record, we don’t see you…
That’s the good news! Polnareff sings Polnareff is an intimate album, but I wanted the cover to say something else. I don’t like the tone on tone. We had thought of a photo with my glasses placed on a white piano, but it was not happy.

We are in another universe, between Grendizer and Captain Flam…
I love manga. I’m even in two mangas: Jean-Pierre Polnareff in I don’t know which comic [JoJo’s Bizarre ­Adventure d’Araki] and Doflamingo in One Piece. I inspired these fictional characters because I am very popular in Japan.

And you have superpowers in these manga?
All, I hope, but I don’t remember…

And in real life?
Look, you’re still here, so…

Of all the covers, which one are you most proud of?
You use the word “reprise», but no: they are original versions. Covers, for me, it’s a lady who does sewing. To answer your question, Holidays is my favorite on the album. I find it better than the original. Well, I’m not going to deny this song: if I hadn’t liked it at the time, I would never have released it. But I think it took on a magical dimension, I couldn’t believe it myself. I’m really attached to the intimate atmosphere of this album. There are no intimidation lights, special effects. I am naked with the listener next to me, who is naked if he wishes, to share a musical moment.

And you plan to present the album on stage?
It’s in the pipeline, I really want it, but as I told you, I have no agenda.

The album therefore begins with Le Bal des Laze…
On the record, yes, but that doesn’t mean I recorded it first.

Read also – Michel Polnareff does not like his look-alike in Cetelem ads

Do you remember the day when Pierre Delanoë presented the text of this song to you?
Yes, the story is funny. I had composed the music and I sang it in yogurt to Pierre Delanoë. Each of my sentences ended with “laze”. We kept this sound that meant nothing, because I’m more sensitive to the sound of words than to their meaning. In short, we later learned that there really was a family called that, the Viscount or the Count of Laze, I don’t know. They even sent me an invitation to visit their castle, but I didn’t go.

Âme câline is also a song that you could have co-signed…
Yes, I was lying on my bed, in Marrakech, near La Mamounia, and there was a bird singing. It’s the bird that gave me “tintinlalip”. But he was lazy: he only left me the beginning. I had to compose the sequel.

You also resume Goodbye Marylou, written in 1989 during your confinement of more than 800 days at the Royal Monceau. Did the character of Marylou really exist?
I was in voluntary confinement. I don’t know why it’s called confinement – ​​it’s a buzzword, I think. When you’re dumb… fine. I’ve been a fan of singer Ricky Nelson since I was little, and his daughter was at the bar at the Royal Monceau at the time. And since he sang a song called Hello Mary Lou, I said to myself:Here, I’m going to write Goodbye Marylou.She knows it, she was with me.

You learned classical music from your father, who was an immigrant from Odessa and author pianist for Piaf. Then you went into rebellion with the discovery of rock… Which artist was the detonator?
Elvis, but I wasn’t allowed to listen to him at home. I remember very well the cover of Don’t Be Cruel that I had hidden in my notebook. I looked at her and imagined myself listening to her.

And when your father discovered your passion for rock?
He takes his belt and hits me with it. But I forgave after twenty years. I know how to be quick when needed.

Read also – When Jean-Loup Dabadie called Michel Polnareff an “old jerk”

We also find Letter to France, written by Jean-Loup Dabadie… What was your reaction when you read his text?
We were in New York. His text was a good start, we then reworked it on a restaurant tablecloth. For me, Lettre à France is the Marseillaise for expatriates. Expatriates, huh! Not exiles. I still feel like a Frenchman living in the United States.

And you do not plan to return to live permanently in France?
Maybe come more often, yes. I want it. I became more serene about the thing… I still love Paris so much, especially at night. But I’m fine in my Palm Springs desert.

And what are you doing there?
I live in my piano and I eat the keys.

Oh good ? In The Piano Lesson, the heroine removes the piano keys to send a message of love…
It’s nice. Well, I invented the thing!

And when you’re not playing Polnareff, what do you play?
I play dumb. And I do that very well.

Polnareff sings Polnareff (Parlophone). Released November 18.

#live #piano

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