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Baker's Dozen

The Spirit Is The Thing: Irmin Schmidt's Favourite Records
Sean Kitching , December 4th, 2015 10:46

As the former Can man releases his Electro Violet box set this week, he boils his all-time favourites down to a 'records of the day' selection, taking Sean Kitching from albums to individual songs and classical compositions


Juliette Gréco - 'Jolie Môme'
Photograph courtesy of Ron Kroon/Anefo/Nationaal Archief

I really love her a lot. I've lived a large part of my life in France and I love this kind of French chanson. I love the texts, which sometimes are very beautiful, and I love this woman because she has a very special style. I still regret something, from when I still was a conductor and classical musician. I already listened a lot to jazz and also to French chanson and especially to the records of Juliette Gréco, and I had the idea to make a version of something Arnold Schoenberg, a composition called Pierrot Lunaire, with her. There is a female singer with a small instrumental ensemble, half-singing, half-talking in a very special way, and in the '60s I always imagined that Juliette Gréco would be the perfect one to perform this and I never did this, I never asked her, and when I formed Can, of course, I got drawn away from these things. And that's one of the few things I regret; I would have loved to have worked with her on this special piece.

I still admire her style of singing and I know for English people, that's not so easy to understand. When you look through this list, you see that it's different types of music. There are still many things which are not on the list that I love. A lot of music from Japan, for instance, and the old Middle Age court music, which I adore. I can love Stravinsky and Captain Beefheart and Juliette Gréco. I don't exclude anything, except things which bore me. And I love the chanson. Especially the composer who wrote nearly all of the pieces she was singing, Serge Gainsbourg - he is a great composer, a wonderful songwriter.