The Lovers’ Organ


“Un vieil orgue de Barbarie
Est venu jouer l’autre jour
Sous ma fenêtre, dans la cour
Une ancienne chanson d’amour
Et pour que rien, rien ne varie,
Amour rimait avec toujours.
En écoutant cette romance
Qui me rappelait le passé,
Je crus que j’en avais assez
Mais comme hélas, tout recommence,
Tout hélas a recommencé,
Tout hélas a recommencé.

Je t’ai donné mon coeœur.
Je t’ai donné ma vie
Et mon âme ravie,
Malgré ton air moqueur,
Reprenons tous en chœoeur,
Est à toi pour la vie.

C’est pourtant vrai, lorsque j’y pense,
Que je l’aimais éperdument
Et que jamais aucun amant
Ne m’a causé plus de tourments,
Mais voilà bien ma récompense
D’avoir pu croire en ses serments.
Il a suffi d’une aventure
Plus banale en vérité
Pour qu’un beau soir, sans hésiter,
Il obéit à sa nature.”

Francis Carco




The old barrel organ
Came to play the other day
Under my window in the yard
An old love song
And that nothing, nothing changes
Love rhymed with always
Listening to this romance
That remembered the past
I thought I’ve had enough
But unfortunately as everything restarts
Unfortunately everything restarted
Unfortunately everything restarted

I gave you my heart
I gave you my life
And my happy soul
Despite your mocking air
All resume in choir,
Is up to you in life

It’s yet to be true, when I think
That I loved him madly
And that never no lover
Doesn’t cause me more torments
But there you have it well, my reward
To have believed in these oaths
He has enough of an adventure
More mundane truth
For a beautiful evening without hesitation
He obeys in her nature
I didn’t deserve
I didn’t deserve

I gave you my heart
I gave you my life
And my happy soul
Despite your mocking air
All resume in choir,
Is up to you in life

What can we have against ourselves?
All of us follow his way
It’s the type of humans
But these that go hand in hand
And say softly, “I love you”
Becoming aware of the aftermath
In a sad refrain
Whose echo is quickly flown away
The organ at the finish then is gone
And, sorry at the infidelity,
I sung to console me
I sung to console me

I gave you my heart
I gave you my life
And my happy soul
Despite your mocking air
All resume in choir,
Is up to you in life


Patti Smith reading Francis Carco’s Depravity (1925) and Burroughs’ The Soft Machine (1961).

Photo by Michael Ochs, Los Angeles, 1984

The title The Soft Machine is a name for the human body, and the main theme of the book (as explicitly written in an appendix added to the 1968, British edition) concerns how control mechanisms invade the body.


To listen to this song composed by Francis Carco, André Varel and Charly Bailly, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page:

Part of America’s Musical Landscape

“I guess I wrote it because there was a part of myself that I was looking for. Maybe now that I feel more comfortable with the way that I live my life and my mental state (laughs) and my spiritual state whatever, maybe I feel there’s some kind of unity now. That song for me always exemplified kind of how you feel when you’re young, when you know that there’s a piece of yourself that you haven’t really put together yet. You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are.”

David Bowie
BBC Radio 1 special programme ChangesNowBowie, broadcast on 8 January 1997


David Bowie poses in front of US flag for a portrait by Michael Ochs, 1976


In his journals, Kurt Cobain of the American grunge band Nirvana ranked the album The Man Who Sold the World at number 45 in his top 50 favourite albums. A live rendition of the song was recorded by the band in 1993 during their MTV Unplugged appearance, and it was released on their MTV Unplugged in New York album the following year. The song was also released as a promotional single for the album, and received considerable airplay on alternative rock radio stations. It was also thrown into heavy rotation on music video stations such as MTV. Nirvana regularly covered the song during live sets after their memorable acoustic performance up until lead singer Cobain’s death in 1994. In 2002 the song was re-released on Nirvana’s “best of” compilation album Nirvana.

Bowie said of Nirvana’s cover: “I was simply blown away when I found that Kurt Cobain liked my work, and have always wanted to talk to him about his reasons for covering The Man Who Sold the World” and that “it was a good straight forward rendition and sounded somehow very honest. It would have been nice to have worked with him, but just talking with him would have been real cool”. Bowie called Nirvana’s cover “heartfelt,” noting that “until this [cover], it hadn’t occurred to me that I was part of America’s musical landscape. I always felt my weight in Europe, but not [in the US].” In the wake of its release, Bowie bemoaned the fact that when he performed the number himself he would encounter “kids that come up afterwards and say, ‘It’s cool you’re doing a Nirvana song.’ And I think, ‘Fuck you, you little tosser!'”

The song’s title is similar to that of Robert A. Heinlein‘s 1949 science fiction novella The Man Who Sold the Moon, with which Bowie was familiar. However, the song has no similarities to the story in the book. In common with a number of tracks on the album, the song’s themes have been compared to the horror-fantasy works of H. P. Lovecraft. The persona in the song has an encounter with a kind of doppelgänger, as suggested in the second chorus where “I never lost control” is replaced with “We never lost control”. Beyond this, the episode is unexplained: as James E. Perone wrote:

Bowie encounters the title character, but it is not clear just what the phrase means, or exactly who this man is. … The main thing that the song does is to paint – however elusively – the title character as another example of the societal outcasts who populate the album.


To watch Nirvana’s performance, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page:

The King Who Was Born on Stage

Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8th, 1935, but it probably wasn’t until his September 9th, 1956 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show that America witnessed the birth of “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”


Elvis Presley poses alone with his guitar, behind the scenes during ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in Los Angeles, Calif., on September 9, 1956.


Elvis Presley sits in a chair as a make-up artist highlights his lips backstage at ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ Los Angeles, California, September 9, 1956


Elvis Presley making his first appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in Los Angeles, Calif., on September 9, 1956


Elvis Presley Rehearsing at the Maxine Elliot Theater, New York, for the Ed Sullivan Show, Photo by Michael Ochs, 6th January, 1957. This was Elvis’ third and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.