From The Desk Of Nick Garrie: Francis Lai

In 1969 Nick Garrie recorded The Nightmare Of J.B. Stanisla, a lush folk/pop album. When collectors discovered it in the ’80s, it began fetching astronomical sums, and it was eventually reissued on CD in 2005. Garrie’s life in obscurity has too many twists to recount, but includes two albums as Nick Hamilton and an opening spot on a Leonard Cohen tour in 1984. The Moon And The Village (Tapete), Garrie’s first release in 23 years, is another subtle charmer. His mellow vocals are supported by arrangements that let his stories glow with a warm inner light. Garrie will be guest editing all week.

Garrie: I first met Francis Lai in the late ’70s. I had just seen him in a film playing a blind accordionist and rather foolishly assumed he was blind when I met him. He produced a single in French for me and asked me to write some English lyrics for his songs. Happy times! “Love In My Eyes,” “Lovers” and “Smile,” amongst others. These got me a slot on a long tour of Japan with the Francis Lai Orchestra.

“Smile” was very quietly an antiwar song.

“Time, God only knows the things you do
So many died to be a part of you
Eager young men to go to war
Crossing the seas to die on foreign shores”

When I sang this in Hiroshima with the full orchestra, the hall was silent for what seemed like long minutes, and then tumultuous applause. The Peace Memorial Museum touched me deeply and should be a compulsory visit for all gung-ho war-mongering politicians.