Murray Head: ‘Unsung at home, but a hero in France’

Hugh Schofield
Paris correspondent

Image source, Getty Images

France’s national anthem, Say It Ain’t So, Joe was released by Head in 1975.

One sub-category that is interesting and not well-known among British musicians, however, exists.

The 75-year-old French singer-songwriter is high up on this list, but he’s still regarded as one of France’s greatest.

Murray Head is a French icon since mid-1970s when Say It Ain’t So Joe, his song, was a hit.

People have slow danced to the music for generations, thanks to Head’s sprightly tenor. The song continues to be played on older radio shows.

The oddest thing about the French is that they believe it’s all about broken hearts.

Head stated, “I was constantly telling them it wasn’t a love songs – it’s really about politics and Richard Nixon.” “But they were so disappointed I quit disabusing. I now think that “who cares?”

He is half-way through another French national tour and is reflecting on his long career, as well as the strange twist that earned him the minor rock-god status throughout the Channel.

French are extremely loyal. He says that when they love you they will stick by you.” In the UK, every person is chased by the latest media phenomenon.

Head had a short time in the British limelight. His Say it Ain’t So LP, which featured a cover shot with Head’s head in a crowd, was a regular at record shops in the ’70s. It’s stuffed in between Hawkwind and Steve Hillage. It was never actually bought.

Musically, this album is a miniature-jewel in folk-rock. The inter-meshing guitars give a certain post-hippy flavour – but with that British touch which tells us straightaway we are not in San Francisco,” wrote the Textes, Blog & Rock’n’Roll website on the album’s 45th anniversary last year.

Head enjoyed a brief moment of fame before its release. Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice chose him to play the role of Judas Iscariot. Head sang in Deep Purple’s pre-theatre album version, Jesus Christ Superstar.

An early, very funny music video of Head singing the Superstar hit single unconvincingly in the rafters a bombed-out Church. A group of Trinidadian back-singers mimics the chorus lower down.

He said, “Somewhere I have the cassette recording of Tim and Andrew’s meeting when they pitched the idea.” After they tell me that they are making a musical about the Christian story of rock, there is a stunned silence. I respond with ‘you have to be effin’ kidding!

Heroines in another country

Vince TaylorTaylor, a leather-clad rock’n’roller and writer for Brand New Cadillac was born in Paris in 1961. While he enjoyed a great fanbase in France and Europe, Taylor was not well-known in the UK. In 1991, he died in Geneva.

Roger HodgsonEx-Supertramp’s frontman is still touring France. In 2012, he was appointed Chevalier of Order of Arts and Letters.

Jane BirkinThe British-born actress and singer, Serge Gainsbourg’s partner and muse, is still hugely popular on the Channel. She is best known for her intense breathing in Je T’aime, the UK.

Charlie Winston– Cornwall-born, the singer has a French number one hit with Like a Hobo. She lives on Cote d’Azur.

Sixto Diaz RodriguezThis singer-songwriter, who was not from France, was hugely popular in South Africa during the 1970s. However, he is unknown in America. Searching for Sugar Man was about his discovery.

Head was the son of a theatre family and was born in London in 1946. He was the son of a theatrical family. His mother played Madame Maigret, a BBC-adapted version of George Simenon’s novels. And his father produced promotional films. Anthony Head, his younger brother, was a star as Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Murray performed in the hit 1971 movie Sunday Bloody Sunday. His main goal was to be a musician. In 1964, he received an award from Radio Luxembourg. He was also paired with John Paul Jones (the future bassist for Led Zeppelin). This led to him signing a recording deal.

Jesus Christ Superstar may have been the breakthrough album, but it was not well-received in the UK. Head moved on by then. One Night in Bangkok was another minor hit, but that was enough for British purposes.

Head calls his parents “France-mad”. Head describes his parents as being “France mad” and took him on camping trips every year to France. He was then sent to London’s French lycee. Although he hated the idea, he learned French, its language, and its history.

He says, “Someone once told me that intelligence is the ability to adapt. That’s what I did.” France is where I am most popular so France is where I have earned my livelihood.”

Head, who has spent many years in the English-speaking worlds of France and England is an expert. sans pareilThe differences in the musical cultures.

According to him, French people can’t understand two words being strung together in one song because their nation is literary. They compare it to Rimbaud and Baudelaire. The lyrics are their obsession, so music often gets lost in the noise.

The Anglo-Saxons are their favorite music group for actual music. Although they may not understand the lyrics, it isn’t a problem. Say It Ain’t So Joe was a song they found emotionally overtones that I had not intended. “But I was not going to complain!”

Le Monde reported earlier in the year that “Say It Ain’t So was a fully authenticated French hit, Joe appeared to promise a glowing future to the young Murray Head.” It was there, but he had to go over here.

Head has just moved out of his Paris flat, and bought an old house in the Béarn region of the Pyrenees which he is renovating. France is the place he plans to live.

“I have never had the slightest interest in England. France was not the place I wanted to call home. France was the one that made me decide. Although I tried to owe England something, England never asked for it. It’s not something I ever wanted.”


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