Les moulins de mon cœur
October 24, 2008 9:32 PM   Subscribe

The first time I encountered this song was on an Anita Kerr Singers record I found in my dad's basement. The original was composed for The Thomas Crown Affair. When the film was remade in 1999, the song was performed by Sting, but his was far from the first recurrence. It inspired numerous covers, perhaps most popularly by Dusty Springfield. I find Jose Feliciano's version to be particularly soulful. Dorothy Ashby layed down some of the funkiest harp you'll ever care to hear. My personal favorite is Peter Nero's performance of the windmills on a Moog synthesizer. Cameron Carpenter puts the phantom to shame with his rendition. New Dawns Show Choir do it with jazz hands. Arturo Sandoval uses his jazz hands to a slightly more impressive effect. I could keep going but I feel like a door that keeps revolving in a half forgotten dream. Oh. The Muppets did it, too.
posted by _aa_ (19 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Muppets FTW.

Actually, the whole post is full of win. That is an awesome song, and I would have never known about most of those versions if not for you and the Blue. Great way to start the weekend, thanks!
posted by yiftach at 9:59 PM on October 24, 2008

I grew up on this song, always in the muzak background, never exactly paid attention to. When I finally figured out what it was called (the 1980s sometime when I discovered the Dusty Springfield version), I was shocked. Does anything describe muzak more aptly than a windmill in your mind? And it's beautiful.

The Bonzo Dog Band's Canyons of Your Mind is also worth a listen. And it's funny.
posted by philip-random at 10:24 PM on October 24, 2008

A (sampled) hip hop version.
posted by tenmuses at 10:29 PM on October 24, 2008

Everybody says the first music that really grabs you is the stuff you listen to when you're a teenager. But Windmills of Your Mind is one of a handful of pieces of popular music that really got inside of me during my childhood, stuff that wasn't just part of the popular culture landscape but really struck me and stuck with me.

My Dad was a big movie fan, and a lot of you probably remember that in the pre-VCR era, that more or less meant in order to see anything out of the theaters, you'd have to just wait until it came around onto network TV. When something my Dad liked (Bond Flicks, Ben Hur, Spartacus) would come up, normal evening routines might go out the window. Instead of going to bed, we could curl up on blankets and pillows on the basement floor and watch TV until we fell asleep. And he'd even try to keep us awake if it was summertime. The Thomas Crowne Affair was one of these films. So it's in the context of this sortof cozy suburban idyllic family ritual where I'm watching Steve McQueen be his enigmatic manly cool self and do cool protagonist movie star things that I encountered this sophisticated song about cycles and memory and experiences and somehow it got to me rather than passing over my single-digit head. Somehow I felt like I'd suddenly touched a sense of deeper texture to life, and became sortof fascinated with this song and the very idea that maybe it *meant* something, that it captured something essential about human experience, or said something potentially wise. As well as the fact that it sounded cool and was associated with a movie about a guy who was so smart he could get away with bank robbery.

It hasn't aged perfectly for me. In particular, that pervasive sense of depth I felt in it as a kid, especially w/ regards to the lyrics, has faded a bit, and I've experienced so much music that did some of the same things better that it's no longer quite so standout for me. But it definitely holds up, and still touches a lot of the notes that it hit for me the first times I heard it. I dig.
posted by weston at 11:21 PM on October 24, 2008 [4 favorites]

A post after my own heart, _aa_. Welcome to the MeFi chapter of PWPERFPPoSS.

*People Who Post Exhaustively Researched FPPs on Single Songs!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:10 AM on October 25, 2008

BTW, I recommend purchasing the soundtrack to the (original) Thomas Crown Affair. It's got some very cool music, and the copy I've got (it's got a different jacket than the one in the link, so I'm not entirely sure it's exactly the same) has snippets of the dialogue from the film here and there, which is a nice plus.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:18 AM on October 25, 2008

With its subtle phrasing and poetry, I was thinking that Léo Ferré would be the perfect interpretter of "Les Moulins de mon coeur" and, while searching online, discovered that songwriter Eddy Marnay had in fact "formed... enduring relationships with Léo Ferré and Michel Legrand." (didn't find a Ferré verion, though, sadly)
Here's an interesting obit for Marnay, who died in 2007.

posted by Auden at 12:19 AM on October 25, 2008

Sir Rex's son, Noel Harrison performing the original on Top of the Pops back in 1969.

Sadly, I'm old enough to remember watching this.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:40 AM on October 25, 2008

Hey, it ain't so sad Peter... I mean, at least you ain't kicked the bucket yet.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:56 AM on October 25, 2008

Any reference to "The Windmills of Your Mind" reminds me of this (5:46).
posted by namret at 3:14 AM on October 25, 2008

This has always been one of my favorite songs. I never bother with MetaFilter posts that are just a pile of YouTube links, especially musical performance clips, but you've won me over with this one, _aa_. Thank you.
posted by briank at 8:18 AM on October 25, 2008

That and 'Softly Whispering I Love You' by the Mike Curb Congregation.
posted by doctorschlock at 8:23 AM on October 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Everything's better with muppets!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:10 AM on October 25, 2008

Interesting artistic choice to fragment Anita Kerr's face into the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I might have rethought my choice of effects after actually seeing the results, but they stuck with it out of principle.

I love that trippy period of the late 70s. It's simultaneously goofy as hell and genuinely touching. Maybe we were remembering the innocent hope of the 60's and anticipating the melancholy of the 80's. It's definitely a unique period.
posted by dosterm at 9:36 AM on October 25, 2008

late early 70's, I mean
posted by dosterm at 9:42 AM on October 25, 2008

I love that trippy period of the late 70s.

Yeah, you said it. Some Velvet Morning and MacArthur Park.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:04 AM on October 25, 2008

There's a popular cover of this in Chinese called "Huan Yan" ("Glad Face") sung by Qi Yu 齐豫.
posted by of strange foe at 3:33 PM on October 25, 2008

dosterm, I can barely stand to look at that Anita Kerr video. It hurts my face to put it lightly.

I suspect that this John Hey character modified the original video, or fabricated a new one. If so, I am having no luck locating the original.

namret, loved the Carol Burnett Show clip.
posted by _aa_ at 6:09 PM on October 25, 2008

There's a popular cover of this in Chinese called "Huan Yan" ("Glad Face") sung by Qi Yu 齐豫.
Interesting - I was going to mention her English-language cover of the same song from the late 80's...wasn't aware she re-did it in Chinese.
posted by anthom at 7:50 AM on October 29, 2008

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