Sunday, 20 December 2015

The Song - Cat Stevens' "Lady D'Arbanville"

I loved you my lady though in your grave you lie ...

A nice live performance here of the beautiful, sparse, melodic, madrigal-tastic yet dark as fuck - and creepy as fuck - "Lady D'Arbanville" by Cat Stevens.

The song was released in April 1970 and subsequently appeared on his album, Mona Bone Jakon a few weeks later.

His first release on major label Island Records, and working closely with a new producer, Paul Samwell-Smith, the song represented a clear move in a folk rock direction.

"Lady D'Arbanville" - like the classic "Wild World" from the Tea for the Tillerman LP released later  that same year - was written about Stevens' girlfriend, American actress and model, Patti D'Arbanville (pictured taking a dip, above).

However, although still together at the time of writing, Stevens - without any attempt whatsoever at subtle disguise ... not even bothering to change the chick's name! - writes a song about her being dead in her coffin ('your lips feel like winter, your skin has turned to white')!

Yap, Stevens here, sumptuously - yet none too discreetly - delivers a final "Fredo, you're nothing to me now" style message to his erstwhile beloved, with the oft- repeated, kernel, past-tense phrase being "I loved you my lady."

Apparently, having been together about two years, Stevens really wanted to take the relationship to the next level but D'Arbanville was reluctant. The relationship was complicated further by her needing to regularly travel back to the USA for work and being often away for weeks on a stretch.

The song was written in a time of deep dark loneliness - and perhaps no little paranoia - during one such period, while Patti was back in NYC for a month.

The first D'Arbanville heard of the song was when she accidentally heard it being played on a New York radio station!

Oddly, the relationship never did pick up again afterwards!!

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