"I always think I'll see you, the next morning, as usual"
Six years after it was written, I still can't properly talk about this song. Some people get the "it sounds like a Celine Dion song except I sing" version (and I insist heavily on the ultra-basic chord progression, the pathos of the melody and its outdated heroism), and the others get the simple truth: it's my favorite song in the whole history of the band.
This love/hate relationship persists to this day. Not a single listen without alternating between “how can anyone dare release this ? and “it’s absolutely beautiful”. Cielo Drive is the sixth and last song of what should have been our new EP to be released in early 2020 before a cascade of small events postponed its release indefinitely, then finally prompted us to release the songs in dribs and drabs. Even though we are no longer the same band that recorded this song three years ago, I wanted to release it to definitively close a chapter in our respective lives and move on after more than a decade of melancholy, introspection and nostalgia.
For the few who will be curious, the lyrics are meant to show the consequences of absence as well as a rapid descent into madness. I have always found them obscure, and it was only very recently that I understood why in this "unconscious puzzle" I found Karen Carpenter, Elliott Smith, Sharon Tate, my father, Robin Gibb, Moshe Dayan, Kurt Cobain, Norah Lange, the father and mother of our friend Manon, Stéphane Charbonnier, John Lennon and dozens of other relatives or strangers.
Like almost every time since 2015, our friend (and even more) Iséo Furudoï accompanied us throughout the recording and conception of the song. He is also the one who had the idea of inviting his friend Mélanie (now our friend too!) to come and play the violin.
Fate has put a pianist on our way to complete the puzzle. It would take me nights and days to say all the good things I think about Alexandre Saada. It would take me about as long to explain how we came to record the piano at his house one fine day in March 2019 and how his daughter Juliette – then 7 years old – joined us on the tuba. An extremely precious moment, and yet another full circle.
You will find two original versions of the song on streaming platforms. : a heroic "studio" version of 250 instruments, and a "family" piano-voice-tuba version.
While we were shooting the video for "Practical Joke" a few weeks ago with our friend and faithful director Maxime Lauret, he suggested the idea of a third version. Make a piano-voice recording of “Cielo Drive” instead of yet another montage of images. An ideal opportunity to have an updated alternative version of the song a few years after its recording.
As usual, Alexandre Saada immediately said "yes", but given his delirious schedule (notably due to the very recent release of Madeleine & Salomon's new album, the sublime "Eastern Spring" with Clotilde Rullaud), the only available moment was on November 1st. The celebration of the dead. Of course.
Amélie and Pauline convinced me to go "alone" and of the importance to save my voice, to take herbal tea, honey and throat lozenges. So of course I spent the days preceding the recording screaming into a microphone (for a new song to be released soon) and catching cold outside (I'll spare you my story of the boiler room breaking out at 4am...), so that on the morning of November 1st I found myself totally speechless.
For a long time I took a masochistic pleasure in writing unsingable melodies, but "Cielo Drive" is perhaps the worst of all. Too low, too high, too technical, too heroic and powerful, in short not made for me. Like a silly challenge, I didn’t cancel the session. Having to sing a song about absence with a loss of voice, and only being able to bring fragility where there had previously been anger, was perhaps the best way to pay homage to it, to photograph a moment that would never exist again.
The capture/recording was a funny and lunar moment. I thank once again Maxime and Alexandre for their encouragement, their benevolence and their respective talents. A special thought for Perrine, Juliette and Emma who were mentally present during the whole process, but also for Mélanie and Iséo, my BFFs Amélie and Pauline, and all those who were perhaps behind my shoulder.
In addition to his incredible cinephilia (I didn't know it was possible to tell relevant things about Tarkovski, North Korean cinema or Hideaki Anno), Maxime Lauret is part of the (in)security duo who recently released the excellent "Extended World" (of which we remixed a title last year: "Death Row Mirrorball")
It would take me a thousand lifetimes to accomplish what Alexandra Saada did in one, on stages and in studios around the world. The albums "A Woman's Journey" and "Songs For a Flying Man" are among the finest I have heard in the last ten years. I can only recommend that you at least listen to "Swallow Song" or "The World Is Not For Us".
Thank you to all those who follow us month after month, to those we recover along the way, and those who leave us but come back from time to time.
released November 13, 2022
Music & lyrics by Staircase Paradox
Mix & mastering by Iséo Furudoï @Gashasound
Mélanie Allanic : violin
Pauline Falzon : bass, vocals
Iséo Furudoï : guitar
Billy Montoya : vocals, guitars, drums
Amélie Repetto : synth, vocals
Alexandre Saada : piano
Juliette Saada : tuba
Indie-pop band based in France. Songs range from euphoria to melancholy, in a hybrid style between dream pop, indie rock & shoegaze. Some kind of bizarre love triangle Interpol / Warpaint / Queens of the Stone Age