Joyeux Anniversaire Jean Michel Jarre

At those times when the conversation turns to music and I’m asked who my all time favorite artist is, I quickly mention Jean Michel Jarre.  I think he stands head and shoulders above anyone else I’ve ever heard.  Frequently, in response, they look at me Jarre-portraitwith a puzzled look, and ask who he is.

I’m at a loss as to why Jarre isn’t known to a great many people, especially those who  love music.  His live concert extravaganzas are attended by more than a million people at a time.  His first record breaker was at the Place de la Concorde for Jarre’s “Equinoxe” presentation. More than 1,000,000 attended it.  That number has been surpassed three times.  His first mainstream album, “Oxygene” was released in 1976, it managed to sell 12,000,000 copies.  It remains as the all-time best selling album in France.

I’m going to indulge in a bit of bias and favoritism on today’s post.    A week doesn’t go by without something by Jarre playing on my stereo. I’ve always had a few of his albums out and ready to play ever since 1976.  In fact, I’m listening to the “Rendezvous” CD as I write this.

For us devotees of Jean Michel Jarre, today is a red letter day on the calendar. This is Jarre’s birthday.  I usually celebrate it by scheduling a few playbacks of his albums according to my moods.  Today, began with “Rendezvous”.  After meditation, I’ll play Jarre - Oxygene“Oxygene” and the “Houston/Lyon” CD. “Téo & Téa” is on tap for this afternoon. Finally, “Waiting for Cousteau” goes on this evening.

Jean-Michel André Jarre was born on August 24, 1948 in Lyon, France.  His father was composer Maurice Jarre, who left the family when Jean-Michel was five years old.  Parenting was completed by his mother, French Resistance member and concentration camp survivor, France Pejot.  The young Jean-Michel spent several months, each year, at his maternal grandparents apartment where he was able to observe street performers.

His musical influences are many. I’d have to write a book to list them and how they nurtured Jarre’s talents.  He was schooled in classical music and affected by Igor Stravinsky. He enjoyed jazz and pop.  Ray Charles was an eye opener to the youngster.  He was also influenced by the visual arts.  In fact, Jarre enjoyed creating his own paintings, some of which were exhibited at the Lyon Gallery.

Jarre-EgyptWhile he studied at the Conservatoire de Paris, he supported himself by selling his paintings and playing guitar for the pop band “The Dustbins”.  At the same time he began his experimentations with mixes of instruments and electronic manipulation of sound.

The artist has learned and borrowed from different cultures.  This aspect keeps Jarre’s music fresh yet timeless.  Jarre’s earliest album still sounds as contemporary and undated as his most recent offerings.  As testamonials to this vibrancy, he consistently plays sold-out concerts at the largest stadiums in Europe.  His 1990 concert at Paris-La-Défense attracted 2,500,000 fans.  Jarre holds the Guinness Book of World Records audience size record of over 3,500,000 people. That was the 1997 Russian concert for which Jarre was invited to highlight the 850th Year since the founding of Moscow.

What is incomprehensible to most Americans, is that Jarre’s music contains few, if any words.  The nature of his instrumental music allows it to speak to all people.Jarre-HoustonLyon

Jarre’s sense of the spectacular is expressed best in his live events. Concertgoers are engulfed in digital and analogue musical technology, megasize HD screens, lighting and laser choreography, and fireworks.  At many events, Jarre employs local musicians and choral groups which signifies his embrace of each venue’s local culture.

Although Jarre is famous for his macro-concerts, I believe his studio efforts are the most enjoyable.  The music is at once grand and neo-classical yet penetrating and personal.  In the car, Jarre’s music shortens the journey.  At home, I can close my eyes and take a drug-free psychedelic trip.

I need to thank Jean Michel Jarre for providing much of the soundtrack for the past 38-years of my life.

Au revoir
1978veryhappymeThe Blue Jay of Happiness notes that Jean Michel Jarre is also an ambassador for two important projects, “Education for All” and “Water for Life”.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in art, cultural highlights, Entertainment, music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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