Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Diane Dufresne: "Un Jour Il Viendra Mon Amour"

Last week I was visiting my parents and went to the movies with my mom. We saw a new movie from Quebec called Sarah préfère la course, which had been screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. I didn't think too much of it; it's one of those indie movies where not a lot happens and there are long...    long...   long...    pauses between every line of dialogue and you can't tell if this is because the director thinks this is how people really speak or if they are creating some terrible artifice.

Sarah is a middle distance runner at a high school in Quebec City who wants to continue running at MacGill College, but doesn't have much money. Her co-worker Antoine suggests they get married and move to Montreal together to take advantage of a government program that gives financial aid to young married students.  They do so, with Sarah looking at it purely as an arrangement of convenience and Antoine having other ideas. Somewhat confusingly, Sarah's old high school track rival is from Montreal and is also on the MacGill track team. There is some tension between them that turns very sexual, no more so than in a karaoke scene at a party.

Zoey, Sarah's rival, is called to sing. She replies she will, but there's only one song she'll sing. Her friends groan, either because they are sick of hearing that song or because it's the type of tune that will bring down the party. She then gets up and sings "Un Jour Il Viendra Mon Amour" by Diane Dufrense.

I will admit, despite my friend Simon featuring the song in a post on his blog, I did not recognize it.  I had to wait until the end of the movie and read the credits to try to figure out which song it was out of the 20 or so in the movie (not to pat myself on the back too hard, but when I saw the name Francois Cousineau listed, I knew that had to be the song). Anyways, Zoey sings this great romantic 60's ballad and it basically gives Sarah a panic attack, because I am guessing that is the moment she realizes she might be a lesbian. This scene was by far the best in the movie, and not just because the song is so good.

It's an interesting choice for the scene, because the song is not a huge classic. This is not Scarlet Johansson singing "Brass In Pocket" to Bill Murray.  If Zoey's peers at the party know this song, it is because it's her personal favorite. Although Diane Dufresne became a big star in Quebec in the early 70's, she was relatively unknown when she recorded this track in 1969. I believe it was her first released vocal; she did not have tracks released under her own name until a year or two later.

In fact, the song is from the soundtrack for a softcore porn movie called L'initiation. Here's a (dubbed) PG rated clip to give you an idea.  There was also a 45 released, as the picture at the top of the page shows.  Judging from current price and availability, the 45 sold more than the soundtrack LP.  I wish I could find some old radio charts to see exactly how big the song was back in the day. There is some great footage on Dailymotion of Dufresne performing the song in 1970, and it certainly gets some applause of recognition.

I am actually more curious how the song found its way into this movie. Perhaps there was a hip musical supervisor working, perhaps it was the director's mother's favorite song, or perhaps they saw it on Simon's blog? Who knows?  In any case, it's exciting to see great old songs being featured so prominently in new movies. At least one of the Youtube comments on the video of "Un Jour Il Viendra Mon Amour" mentions they were listening to the song because of Sarah préfère la course. You know what? Me too.

The song itself is one of those great orchestrated mid-tempo 60's ballads that just sounds better in French. People like Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield, or even the Walker Brothers have material that has that Continental vibe, but it somehow is missing something. Want proof? Check out the English version, "Here and Now":

Somehow it's not nearly as cool, sultry, or sophisticated in English...