Monday, September 3, 2012

Stevie Ray Vaughan in the Wine

Last Friday we went into Montpellier for Les Estivales. I've told you all about how fun it is here.
There are two more Friday nights to enjoy so come on over if you can.

Back to Friday.
You may be surprised to know that here in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, they love themselves some line dancing. And country music.
And dressing up all Western stylee.

{American Style Frenchie, photo credit: la Canadienne}
Friday night was line dancing, western dressing, country music night at Les Estivales.The 'professional' group of dancers, including that guy up there, were wearing black western shirts with 'Arizona Wild' written in fancy script on the back. They got up on the dance floor and led their fellow Frenchies in step after step of honky-tonk shufflin'.
Billy Ray Cyrus style. It was fantastic.

While I was getting my third and final 10cl of wine from a booth belonging to a couple of vignerons named Pierrette (love that name!) and Dominic (loved his weather-worn face) the singer of the country band announced the next song, something having to do with Texas or 'Tex-ass' as they say.
My ears perked up.
So did the weathery wine-maker Dominic's. He laughed and said, "Oh-la-la, Tex-ass!" and I said, "Je suis Texane!" and he smiled bigger, approvingly, face creased deeper and said, 'J'adore Stevie Ray Vaughan! Texas Flood.'

He said that sometimes when he's making his wine he listens to Stevie Ray and his virtuoso guitar, crying sky, flying on little wings and pride and joy.

It made me so happy. I love it when worlds collide. That perfect moment of understanding, regardless of language, with another person. Who can listen to Stevie play and not feel something?  
Dominic and I, we understood.

The wine was nice. A rich red with notes of sorrow, imbued with the lament of Stevie Ray's guitar.


  1. Awesome post Aidan. I have to say I have always been fascinated by the interest in country music here--I have tried to convince my Sis that she could become famous in France!! Still owe you her CD...

  2. I find it incredibly fascinating that they have country dance in France. I really wonder if it was via les Canadienes or Des Etats-Unis that they first discovered line dancing and country music was popularized. Also, love Stevie Ray Vaughan.... he was so talented, and his death so so tragic. My Dad and I have bonded over a mutual love and respect for his music!

  3. But of course, the French love country music... and western movies, too... It is time for you to know that their heroes have never been celebrity chefs, Tour de France winners, or le General de Gaulle, but... good old fashioned cowboys! :-) The movie "Urban Cowboy" with John Travolta was a huge hit in France many years ago, and the first films I ever saw (courtesy of my dad,) were old western movies with the likes of Randolph Scott, John Wayne, and Gene Autry! Heck, we played a slow country and western song to start off the reception on my WEDDING DAY! Not all French people go for Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier or accordeon music, ya know! :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  4. Isn't it nice to run into a Frenchie that loves a part of America that you love too.

  5. Oh....the French DO, indeed, love their country musique. That became unavoidably obvious to me in the Summer of 2005, when I had the first of my shows held in conjunction with the Festivale de Musique in Tours. The festival is, of course, a very high-toned, classical venue....the last venue in which I'd thought to find myself discussing country music.

    Still?...I was informed on the third day that the French equivalent of Public Television was going to film a segment, and that they wanted to interview me. Presumably the Public TV folks had realized that, as little as they might get out of me, they were likely to get even less out of the showcased, 15 year-old, Japanese violin-prodigy (who, as I'd realized at dinner the previous night, seemed to speak every language BUT French).

    I ended up sitting on the stage in that big, 15th century barn at the Meslay de Grange, surrounded by tech-men, and with three or so cameras pointed at me and the jawdroppingly gorgeous, hyperverbal, tall, blonde, female host of whatever-show-this-was.

    Suffice it to say that I didn't perform at all well (mostly because I really don't have anything to say about my pictures.
    Consequently, I kept answering the gorgeous, but increasingly frustrated woman's questions with dead-end & dead-air responses such as "ummmm...I don't really know anything about that", "Oh, that's just not something I've ever considered", "Not really..I just painted it because I thought it was pretty. I didn't really 'think' anything else about it", and " don't pay much attention to other artists".

    After 15 minutes of this grim, fruitless, back&forth volleying, I could tell from her "Could you just give me SOMEthing?" expression that the woman (who really was doing her best)thought I was a useless idiot. I didn't resent that, since I'd come to the same conclusion.

    For some reason, though, I mentioned where I grew the mountains of East Tennessee...and I (since no one ever recognizes the name of my hometown, even in the USA) floundered a bit more (trying to figure out how to say this in French) before saying "Oh, I was born about twenty miles from Dolly Parton's hometown..."

    I promise you...that beleagured woman's face just lit-up with sunshine and relief, and she suddenly turned full-face to the cameras, lifted her hands, and joyously exclaimed "DAHH-LEEE PAH-TONE!!!!!! DAH-LEE PAH-TONE!!!!". One of the cameramen (I'm not making this up) committed a "film is rolling" sin by also exclaiming "OH!...Dolly Parton!!!".......and off we went a-rolling for the remaining 15 minutes.

    Ithought "Oh, screw talking about art....give these folks what they like", and I babbled on, even revealing the Yup-It-Really-Happened anecdote of the night, at a time when her career had barely started, when Dolly Parton was my babysitter for one single evening.

    The interviewer was ECSTATIC....we talked about nothing BUT Dolly Parton until she (looking at her watch) announced how FUN it had been to meet me.....and, yes, she referred to me as a "Tennessee Country Artist!".

    All in all, that was one of the plain-out weirdest experiences I've ever had.....and, yes, my French mother-in-law later sent me a link to the wince-making, highly edited (good thing for everyone involved) final version, which did indeed make its way onto Lord-knows-how-many folks' television sets.

    The final fact is that I have a lot of degrees in a lot of things (law skool, a Ph.d. in English, etcetera), and they've never been of the least practical help in my adult life.

    Who would have predicted that a thorough familiarity with country music and (for better or worse) having memorized the lyrics to almost every song Dolly Parton's ever sung/wrote would save my ass on French television?


    david Terry

    1. Funny story!

    2. David,
      That made me laugh. I can't imagine giving an interview in French, so my hat's off to you from the get-go for that. But, to have it say the Dolly Parton part thrilled me too! I love her. One of my favorite quotes ever is hers, 'You have to pay a lot of money to look this cheap.' Hilarious! She's someone who really knows how to do it and has made such smart choices with her career and life. Love Dolly!
      Too funny. Thank you for sharing it here.

    3. Oh, Aidan...surely you know one of Dolly's other, top-40 ripostes?....

      Someone asked her in an interview how long it took to "do" her hair every day, and she instantly replied "I really don't know.....I'm never there."

      That ranks right up there with Joan Rivers line about having spent 7 hours at the beauty salon that day...."and that was just for the consultation."

      I like your blog (which I've only recently found via someone else's) a lot, by the way. It's regularly occurred to me (as is not the case with a number of "family" blogs) that your children are going to awfully happy to read this when they're grown. I hope you're saving it for them.


      David Terry (whose grandmother is from Waxahatchie, Texass...and whose great grandfather mostly built it)

  6. What a truly lovely post, Aidan! I don't really think I pay attention to the French and American Country music (unless it is being imitated by singers like Eddy Mitchell!), maybe because I don't really listen to it myself that often. But it reminds me of being at an agricultural fair years ago in Cremona, Italy and there was a mini-rodeo going on. All Italian men dressed mike American cowboys. We thought it hysterically funny!

  7. how utterly fabulous...... fine wine and great music!!


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