Angel record ABL 64001, Avant Garde Parisien, Charles Trenet, Columbia record ML 4275, France, Graphic design, Jean Cocteau, La Mer, La Mer song, movies, music, Musique, pochette du disque, record cover design, Songs of Charles Trenet album, Video, YouTube
The language of music is truly universal. Today’s post is about the songs by the great French tenor, song writer, chanteur and actor Charles Trenet. Charles Trenet (1913-2001) belongs, with Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Yves Montand and many others, to the very great singers of the French “Chanson“. This is what the back side of the LP tells us about Trenet. Record covers with comments on the back are part of the socio historical view we have of the times when they were made. They become more important over time, when more definite questions might arise, such as: How important was the artist overall in the music history of a country? How did the critics see him or her? This particular Columbia record is from 1950, and although the cover appears to be light blue in color, the actual color is very green.Can you see yourselves looking out of this hotel room in Paris with traditional shutters, and hear a radio playing one of the most famous songs by Trenet? No doubt it is “La Mer”, known today through the many interpretations by other artists, and often used as music in movies.
The 2011 movie Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy featured “La Mer” towards the end, earlier movies like The Dreamers in 2003 used it as well. The award winning movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Julian Schnabel used this in the opening scene. Charles Trenet was well acquainted with the Parisian Avant Garde scene, and the poet/artist Jean Cocteau, drew him for the outstanding, rare cover of this Angel Record (shown below). The cover, the date remains a mystery to me, has superb lettering design and color, and while the designer is not named, it reminds me of Alvin Lustig, or Steinweiss (who knows?). The colors are rarely seen this way in all it’s simplicity. Needless to say, Cocteau is here quintessential Cocteau!
Charles Trenet was prolific and made well over a 1000 songs, and some albums seem rarer than others. A good listing can be found here.
For all of you who really would like to hear “La Mer” here is a youtube video with a great performance.