So many memories

Since the setting up on line of this Website, five years have passed, just like between Nana’s first visit in Quebec in 1965 and the moment when I knew her music. 1970 is also the first year of which I have so many memories. I remember very well the day of my fifth birthday when a wheelbarrow had been offered to me. The painful vaccine against variola the day before my start at the nursery class. When my first tooth fell. I don’t forget either the moments spent with family; our snowmobile rides and our summer holiday in New Jersey. When I watch our family films of that era, everything comes back to me.

Since the beginning of their marriage, my parents had accomodated Monique, my mom’s sister. That year, she was 21 years old and began her nursing career. She spent a lot of time at home with my sister and me, so much that we considered her a big sister. She was giving much attention to us. For each one of our birthdays and for Christmas, we were always assured to have nice gifts. She was a impassioned for reading. She ordered complete book collections and also bought records. She had a weakness for blues and folklore but a preference for French music. Involuntarily, she contributed to my musical initiation.

As the record player was in my bedroom, my aunt put her records in the cabinet below. There was: The Little Prince, The Percy Faith Orchestra, London À Go Go, Jacques Brel, Eva, James Brown, the pianist Crazy Otto, Los Calchakis and of course the one of Nana. I took pleasure in noticing the small details as much on the covers than on the labels. The Nana album is the one that amazed me the most. It was her first live album recorded with the Athenians at the Paris Olympia.

The day before I discover the Nana record, my aunt had gone to Montreal with a friend. They had supper at Da Giovanni, a restaurant renowned for their excellent pizza. Then they went to see the records at Archambault Musique, located just beside. My aunt decided to buy this album. As she came back home late, she didn’t put it in her furniture so as not to waken me. She left it in a prominant position on the washing machine and out of its bag. The next morning, I was the first to get up and I couldn’t help seeing it. By looking at the cover, I had the strange impression that I already knew Nana. But where could I have seen her before? Spurred by curiosity, I only had a desire; that someone unseal it for me so I could listen to it. I must have appreciated this, because they played it for me several times. I remember very well that during the evenings, I liked to listen to it in the darkness, by staring at the corridor lamp. It was undoubtedly an unconscious way to recreate the atmosphere which reigned that night at the Olympia. After three days my aunt decided to take back the record and to put it on the top shelf of her library where it was out of reach for me. Finally, shortly afterwards, she gave it to me. From that moment, I could listen to it as much as I wanted.

At the same time, I was in my little world and absorbed by my childhood characters: Gumby and its horse Pokey (rubber figurines), Winnie the Pooh (colouring book) and La Souris verte (The Green Mouse), a television character I watched daily. But I didn’t grow weary of listening to Nana who gave a concert in my town the day of her birthday. Many years later I will be told that the theatre secretary had offered to her flowers. Unfortunately, I didn’t go because my parents didn’t tell me. Over some years, I wondered why. They undoubtedly judged that I was too young to attend a concert. On the other hand, a few weeks later, I had the privilege to see her on TV for the first time during the variety program "Zoom".

A few weeks before Christmas, I had seen La Souris Verte (The Green Mouse) record by accident and one of Nana's had fallen from the wardrobe…This earned me a reprimand for having supposedly rummaged, because these two records were among my Christmas presents, which I was unaware of. Then I really had to forget that. So that I didn’t have any doubt, my aunt took care to put a cardboard between the base of the two records in order to give the packing a different form; a triangular one. I keep a very clear memory of this Christmas Eve 1970. During the present distribution, Santa Claus told me: «You see, you said that your father was the Santa Claus.» However, I knew that it was another man, even if I hadn't recognized my uncle. On my return to school, I was proud to show my gifts to my teacher. To my surprise, she told me that her husband had a Nana record because he was Greek. The following day, she brought it to the classroom and played it.

At five years old, I could neither read nor write, but I already had the sense of observation and an extraordinary memory. One day, while looking through my mom’s record pile, only at the label, I recognized a Nana single. As several albums are advertised on the back cover of my new album, that meant there were some others I didn’t have…I believe that the curiosity which encouraged me to hold on to such details contributed to develop my memory and certainly my determination to collect Nana’s records. That year, I had the impression that my life began. I felt that I was going to remember everything that happened to me. All that was 40 years ago, but it is also the age I was when I launched this site.