IL NE PENSE QU'A CA - 1967/1971 (BORN BAD)

EVARISTE - IL NE PENSE QU'A CA - 1967/1971 153390
1 LP
item ID:
Évariste is one of the rare specimens of artist-cum-scientists. Among his kind stand others like Pierre Schaeffer, a Polytechnique graduate (an engineer but also the father of musique concrète) and the eccentric Boby Lapointe (graduate of the École centrale and inventor of the Bibi-binaire system, patented in 1968).

Évariste's songwriting, joyful and full of energy (albeit extremely critical), shrouds an original tragedy: born in 1943 among résistants, Joël Sternheimer (aka Évariste) grew up without a father, lost to Auschwitz.

Although he makes little reference to Jewish culture in his music, his origins leave their mark: in 1974, he sings a Hebrew song on television.

In 1966, the young Joël sports Princeton's colourful paraphernalia - that's because he's freshly returning from the US, where he was sent to pursue his research on "particle mass and the interpretation of observed regularities, such as the effects of a wave" (will understand who may).

When he gets there the country's in the midst of the Vietnam War. With McNamara keen to find an alternative to the nuclear weapon and calling upon the country's biggest brains to undertake the task, there's a "fund shift" within the university - a diplomatic way to give notice to whoever may not be disposed to follow the government's scheme.

Joël, who's under the supervision of a rebellious physician, is dismissed. He regardless keeps following the prestigious seminaries of the Institute for Advanced Study, chaired by Oppenheimer, inventor of the atomic bomb.

Likely inspired by the hippie movement and music, Joël buys a guitar and starts playing in Washington Square - after all, Bob Dylan himself started there.

He blithely skips Oppenheimer and receives a warm (though surprised) welcome from a crowd thoroughly unfamiliar with French.

When the ageing physicist questions him about his decreasing attendance, Joël explains how drawn he is to music, and how he thinks it could help him in self-financing his research.

Évariste recalls seeing the sickened man, his face torn by remorse, lighten up to his words and say: "What's keeping you - go for it! If I was still young that's exactly what I'd do." The student takes these words as a testimony from his professor - and it's enough to convince him .

And so he takes the leap during the Christmas vacations he spends in Paris. A journalist friend he often sees around the Sorbonne introduces him to the artistic director of Disques AZ.

The latter passes the tapes on to the label's boss, Lucien Morisse, also program manager on Europe N°1.

Morisse is blown away - and signs him onto the label right away. Michel Colombier, arranger for Serge Gainsbourg and co-author of "Psyché Rock", with Pierre Henry, contributes some of his original ideas to the 7 inch "E=mc2": Évariste's preoccupation with the percussion sound on the track "Le calcul intégral" is that it goes "poom poom" and not "tock tock" - Colombier is aware of the issue and records Évariste's guitar like a percussion in an isolated booth.

The organist Eddy Louis, who is to participate, in 1969, to the success of Claude Nougaro's "Paris mai", also appears on the record.

It's 1966 and the Antoine phenomenon (signed on Vogue) storms through France. The two singers share similarities: Antoine is an engineer of the École centrale, gifted with a great originality in his song-writing.

A godsend for the two labels who turn this resemblance into a commercial strategy, setting them out as rivals.

To this day though, Évariste still denies what was little more than slushy tabloïd gossip.

Success comes around swiftly and in 1967 Évariste launches into a second 7 inch, "Wo I nee", again arranged by Michel Colombier.

Quantum mechanics fans finally get their anthem with "La Chasse Au Boson Intermédiaire" (or the "Intermediary Boson Pursuit").

To sum up what's a boson, say he's a close pal of the meson, photon and other gluons. A few months later, it's May 68 and everything's turned upside down.

Évariste writes a series of songs inspired by the events, which he immediately submits to Lucien Morisse.

When the man behind "Salut les copains", once married to Dalida, hears the song "La révolution" - a father and son dialogue - he can't take any more: AZ simply cannot release this.

But there and then Lucien Morisse makes a gesture which will remain engraved in French music's history: sorry to be unable to officially stand by the singer, he encourages him to self-produce the record, but with his tacit support.

He calls the pressing factory and asks they apply the same rate for Évariste as they would for AZ.

The singer and his musicians use the same studio as for the previous record, all of them playing for free awaiting a return on investment.

Évariste keeps singing at the Sorbonne with "Jussieu's gang" and "the young Renaud" he nicknames "le p'tit gavroche" (or "street urchin").

Renaud volunteers to type the lyrics of the song "La révolution" so that the chorus can be sung and recorded.

A boy in the group is related to Wolinski and introduces them. The two get along so well that Wolinski ends up drawing the cover for the record "La révolution", for free.

The self-released 7 inch "La révolution / La faute à Nanterre" is sold under the table and door-to-door for half the price of a standard record, on and around the boulevard Saint-Michel; and it runs out fast.

In the end, there will be 6 releases of the record, and 25000 copies sold. When the theatre director Claude Confortès decides to adapt Wolinski's drawing series titled "Je ne veux pas mourir idiot" ("I don't want to die a fool"), he asks Évariste to write the original soundtrack.

His friend, now cartoonist for Hara-Kiri Hebdo, often promotes him in accordance with a principle dear to him by virtue of which he gives a special place to his friends.

Dominique Grange (writer of the song "Nous sommes les nouveaux partisans") soon joins the team.

After 150 performances, Évariste leaves his place to Dominique Maurin (brother of Patrick Dewaere).

Évariste composes the songs for Claude Confortès' next play, "Je ne pense qu'à ça" ("That's all I think about"), co-wrote with Wolinski in 1969.

The comedians of the play record the songs on a 7 inch, with a cover signed, again, by Wolinski.

In 1971, French television produces the documentary "Évariste et les 7 dimensions", but doesn't air it.

Indeed, the scientific sub-comity of the programming comity (sic) censors the show. The given justification is that "Évariste dangerously mixed science with science-fiction, numerology and other non-scientific disciplines".

The underlying motive might have been a will to censor the singer-mathematician's political discourse.

In the documentary and among other things, Évariste discusses hierarchy, alienation and revolution.

Half a century later the documentary remains invisible, though some excerpts resurfaced in 1992 in the cult show "L'oeil du cyclone", on Canal +.

Though flourishing, Évariste's career is nearing its end. 1970 is the beginning of a decade in the course of which he is to make a decisive discovery in the musical and scientific domains.

Following this breakthrough, he moves away from self-produced music and gaucho magazines to focus on science.

He keeps Oppenheimer's encouraging words in mind, now freely pursuing his research thanks to the sales of his records.

Joël realises that when decoding protein sequences, one finds musical sequences recognisable to humans.

He names them "proteodies". If, when listening to a proteody, one responds by being so sensitive as to finding it beautiful, then it reveals a deficiency of the related protein - and this peculiar music may be the cure.

We could trace back the music history in light of proteins lacking in a given artist, or within a public's majority.

You always thought these hysterical groupies who'd throw their underwear with passion and faint in the pit had miraculously appeared because they had never heard anything as wonderful as the Beatles? Make no mistake! For Évariste, it all boils down to an intro's protein content.

Indeed, the beginning of their first hit "Love Me Do" corresponds to dopamine, the neurotransmitter linked to compulsive buying.

An intro like this could only unleash the fervour of groupies, victims of fashion and biology.

Évariste's success is such that the income from his sales gives him the autonomy to which he had aspired when confiding to Oppenheimer.

It made it possible for him to pursue his research without any institutional constraints.

He now devotes himself to his proteodies, sat in the offices of the European University for Research, just around the corner from the Sorbonne he knew so well.

Évariste is no more. Joël regained control of this strange and comical beast.
  • Tracklisting
  • 1.5. DANS LA LUNE
  • 1.7. MA MIE
  • 1.8. WO I NEE
  • 1.11. JE NE PENSE QU'A ÇA