The Seine and its Bodies

I actually like this entry. That’s a boring first, but maybe a good opportunity to flex my positivity muscles … about a thoroughly depressing song.

Fud Leclerc

Trigger Warning: This post discusses mental health issues and suicide.

I actually like this entry. That’s a boring first, but maybe a good opportunity to flex my positivity muscles … about a thoroughly depressing song.

Well then, this took me way longer than it should have. I, honestly, thought that I would struggle more with the horrible songs of this contest, but apparently writing about something I enjoy is the harder exercise for me. This isn’t helped by my general propensity to abandon projects in the face of adverse circumstance or to start way too many projects at once all the time. Though, this probably shouldn’t become a testament to my mental health, even if the song potentially warrants a discussion about mental health in general.

But let’s get started with Eurovisions third final entry: The song in question is Messieurs les noyés de la Seine by Belgian Artist Fud Leclerc. Again Fud Leclerc is a name worth keeping in mind as he represented Belgium four times on the stage of the Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne and would go on to be invited as a guest star for the Eurovision Song Contest 2005.

Messieurs les noyés de la Seine translates to the Drowned Men of the River Seine and that should be the first warning to those who were expecting a happy feel-good melody to hum on their way to work. While if your French is as lacking as my own would probably not understand what is going on within the lyrics, the musical accompaniment doesn’t exude happiness either nor should it. Not every song has to be happy, but this one packs a particular punch of melancholy for me. The six repetitions of the title within the verses of the song, make them into a melancholic mantra that is only accentuated by my inability to notice the subtle changes between the stanzas.

Wikipedia posits that the persona of the singer is caught up in “a loveless marriage” and wants to drown himself in the Seine. While I can find supporting textual evidence for the first claim easily, I’m not so sure about the second claim. First of all, Wikipedia mixes up what Fud Leclerc himself and what the persona in his song wants to do, but secondly while the persona is obviously weighed down by the troubles of love and considers quitting the game I don’t think that necessarily points to a clear intention to commit suicide, there are other ways to quit the game. Also at this time, I feel it necessary to point to the fact that Messieurs les noyés de la Seine is definitely plural in French. That much I know.

Pourquoi, si tout le monde triche, jouer encore le jeu?

Fud Leclerc: Messieurs les noyés de la Seine

But there is a point to be made about the Persona’s suicidal ideation. After all, the song ends with the words “Paris me doit bien un berceau / Je m’endormirai sans amour ni haine / Entre ses bras de sable et d’eau”: Paris owes me a cradle / I will fall asleep with neither love nor hate / in its arms of sand and water

Paris me doit bien un berceau
Je m’endormirai sans amour ni haine
Entre ses bras de sable et d’eau

Fud Leclerc: Messieurs les noyés de la Seine
Skyline of Paris
View of Paris for the terrace of Les Galeries Lafayette

Even though not Belgian, Paris is a fitting choice for this song. As a city, Paris is commonly associated with love and beauty and while Paris is a beautiful city and there are many romantic and scenic spots to be found within its boundaries, Paris still comes with all the dirt, grime, rats, and annoyances of big cities. This disconnect between anticipation and reality even lead to what’s somewhat jokingly called Paris-Syndrome. This is usually more accurately described as an extreme form of culture shock. The disconnect between the imagined City of Love and the pain love can cause us in reality, can certainly make our own loneliness feel more intense.

What still is surprising to me, is that I actually enjoy the calm melancholy of this song. It’s so far the only song that has managed to find its way into my vast collection of meticulously sorted Spotify playlists.

If you enjoyed this weird look into obscure music you can read the last post in this series or can take a look at the entire series so far, in the appropriate category. Or look at the next entry: Germany 12 points.

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