Who wouldn’t want to hear Anthony Perkins crooning his rainy-day standards? Or, better yet, singing in French!
Sometimes when you think people don’t know the value of what they have, what you really mean is that they don’t know how valuable that thing is to you. It’s all about supply and demand, and bizarre (to put it more kindly, eccentric) interests don’t really come into play. This is all to say that Anthony Perkins is one of my favorite actors. He also released several albums in the late ’50s and early ’60s as both “Tony Perkins” and “Anthony Perkins” that are hard to find but frequently, and insultingly, cheap. Who wouldn’t want to hear Anthony Perkins crooning his rainy-day standards? Or, better yet, singing in French!
If you’ve ever seen Goodbye Again, based on Françoise Sagan’s Aimez-vous Brahms?, and just didn’t get enough of Perkins’ singing, you’re in luck. Yves Montand isn’t the only crooner. In 1962, a year after the film’s release, Perkins put out Chante en Français on Pathé. It’s a simply packaged 7-inch, but it’s pure magic. On opening track “Ne Dis Plus Rien,” Perkins is accompanied by a solemn orchestra arrangement whose only spiritual holdover from Henri Salvador’s jazz-influenced original is a shuffling percussion. Perkins’ voice is the clear focal point, but he doesn’t seek to stretch himself beyond a soft-spoken delivery, one that complements the quiet joy of the lovestruck lyrics.
“Quand Tu Dors Près de Moi,” the theme song from Goodbye Again, closes Side A, itself an adaptation by Georges Auric of the third movement of Brahms’ Symphony No. 3. Perkins’ version, as opposed to Montand’s, puts the wind instruments and strings front and center in the orchestra arrangement. And while Montand exudes a huskiness in his romanticism, Perkins is all sweet innocence, as befits the dynamics of Goodbye Again and their respective characters’ relationships with Ingrid Bergman’s Paula.
Side B features “On Ne Meurt Pas Pour Ça” and “Il N’y a Plus D’Après.” The latter is a Guy Béart song that has been covered countless times by French chanteurs including Juliette Gréco and Montand. It’s a more upbeat song than the previous tracks, with a delightful interplay between flutes throughout. “On Ne Meurt Pas Pour Ça” is, once again, a slower crooner, relying on its soaring strings to add drama. The tinkling piano, however, adds a delightfully playful aspect to the track.
As an indirect tie-in with Goodbye Again, Chante en Français still carries over the tone of that film. The songs that Perkins chooses to include here are all about intoxicating first love and love infiltrating all your thoughts. As such, the overt romanticism of the supporting orchestra works perfectly – and does double duty here. Not only is it setting the tone for blissful romance, but, Perkins’ voice not being the most dynamic, it buoys these songs from what could be ballads that verge too much on the dreary side. As a vocalist, Perkins isn’t restrained per se, but his delivery is always subdued, understated. It matches his acting perfectly and, with the proper musical direction as evidenced here, is subtly enthralling.