Monday, November 01, 2004

Pere-Lachaise

The Parisian cemetery Père-Lachaise has a truly excellent website, organised as a virtual walking tour. It's about the best piece of web design I've ever seen: clean and quiet appearance, well organised and laid out, easy to navigate, intuitive to use.

I'll give you one clue to get you started. The site opens (once you've chosen a language) with a large-scale map, with black crosses and white nodes where paths meet. Superimposed on the map is a view of the entrance to the cemetery, photoshopped onto the pavement is a red disk with a white arrow pointing inwards. Click on the red disk, let the new photo load. Now move the cursor towards one of the white arrows beside the photo, and let it scroll a little. Look back at the map: Do you know where you are and in which direction you're facing?

Good design makes difficult things seem obvious. Good design is like the assisting nurse in an operating room, standing out of the way with the tools you need at hand. Bad design is like the ringmaster of a circus, shouting "look here! look there! look at me!" but doing nothing. We are bears of very little brain, we get distracted by flashing lights and ringing bells and forget that the lights and bells were supposed to be leading us to the site's content.

A damn fine website. Dix points sur dix for the designers.

The content here is the tombs and headstones of some very famous and significant people. Many of these are magnificent works of art in themselves (the website has one significant failing: it is a "black box", there is no way for me to give you a link to any particular tomb). One might quibble about the valuations implicit in the commentary: much as I admire Jim Morrison, I doubt that he is worth six times as many words as Marcel Proust.

Père-Lachaise is an oasis of calm in the dusty chaos of Paris, cool and shady paths bordered by flowers and old trees. Spend half a day there, next time you are in Paris: you'll enjoy it.

48 Comments:

Blogger chipster said...

And of course those of us of a certain age (or musical background) remember the song "Madame Jeannette." Her fiance sleeps at St. Pierre, they say, but she's buried in Pere-Lachaise.

December 27, 2004 at 4:57:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Udge said...

You've got me there. Who was Madame Jeanette?

December 27, 2004 at 6:05:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger chipster said...

Madame Jeanette: music by Alan Murray, lyrics by Edward Lockton

This is a song many high school and jr. high choirs sing. It has wonderful harmonies and shows off (if they do it well) an ability to sing pianissimo with attention to rubato. The first verse is:

"Madame Jeannette, when the sun goes down,
Sits at her door in the rush of the town.
Waiting for someone to pass down the way,
Someone who sleeps at St. Pierre, they say."

I can't remember the rest but the last line has her lying in Pere-Lachaise. She's a World War I widow, or whatever a person is called who nevers marries after her betrothed dies.

Reading your blog brought that song flooding back.

BTW, I couldn't get the Pere-Lachaise site to show in English. Of course, I use the Opera browser, so maybe that's the problem.

December 27, 2004 at 8:04:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

madame jeanette she will wait there I know
till her eyes have grown dim
and her hair's white as snow
wait there and watch there till one of thes days
they take her to slumber at Pere-Lachaise

May 3, 2006 at 12:20:00 AM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it: "waiting and watching each close of the day, 'til they take her to slumber at Pere Lachaise."

November 12, 2006 at 1:48:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Roger said...

The correct words are: "Wait there and watch there, till one of these days, they take her to slumber in Pere LaChaise, in Pere LaChaise.

December 31, 2006 at 6:41:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tune of this song just came into my head tonite and although I remembered just a few of the lyrics, I wanted to remember them all! Thank you for posting the rest of them on this site. I sang this song in a jr. high choir in Queens ("All Borough Choir"???)

February 11, 2007 at 3:29:00 AM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some reason I was thinking about the song this morning, which I sang with a college touring group in the 60s. Bits of phrases kept coming back to me, but I couldn't remember it all, so I Googled it this morning and came here.

We also sang "In Flanders Field the poppies grow," and I was thinking of the contrast in the essence of these two songs. "Poppies grow" focuses on winning the war the buried soldiers began. "Madame Jeanette" is simply an ode to undying love and the sorrow and losses of war.

Then I thought of the names read on PBS in the evening news and how my husband and I always stop what we are doing to look at the young--and sometimes not so young--faces, and silently read the names that will no longer be spoken in greeting or play by the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, and the sons and daughters left behind--forever mourning their loss.

I don't have my password with me, so I'll have to post this anonymously. --izann

March 26, 2007 at 5:13:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

Hello Izann (and all the anonymous others) welcome aboard. I am pleased that this post gets so much resonance, it gets at least one hit every week from people googling Madame Jeannette.

March 26, 2007 at 5:22:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this thread looking for all the words to the song (I know the first and last verses). Does anyone know the rest of the song? It has haunted me since high school glee club and I have a great guitar backup that really enhances the poinance of the song. Thanks.

May 18, 2007 at 11:10:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger Laura Erickson said...

Count me among the people who googled Madame Jeanette, thinking of that lovely high school song, and found this blog.

May 31, 2007 at 9:50:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

I've found an MP3 of it online, sung my the male choir (glee club) of Dartmouth:

http://biggreen65.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/15-madamejeanette.mp3

I shall transcribe and post the lyrics soonish.

June 4, 2007 at 12:21:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous John David Sottile said...

Hello Udge...

I am the webmaster / publisher for Dartmouth College's Class of '65 website. I created the Madame Jeanette webpage after numerous inquiries made me realize that I was not the only person taken up with the melody and lyrics. Originally, I had just listed it as a cut on the Dartmouth Glee Club Album. --->>> Over the past few days, I have received more email inquiries than usual regarding the mysterious Madame Jeanette. The recent uptick caused me to Google "Madame Jeanette" to see what had changed in the listings. I came across your blog and thread.--->>> What I have learned over the recent years from such emails -- and your thread -- is that Madame Jeanette "haunts" people in that the tune lingers consciously and subconsciously and is tied to people, places, and events... usually wistful ones at that. For this reason, though unknown in the mainstream, it is one of the most powerful songs written.--->>> If you or the people who contributed to this thread are interested in receiving an mp3 file of Madame Jeanette, you / they may email me at webmaster@biggreen65.com. Regards, Johnny

July 10, 2007 at 7:02:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger Jim's Journal said...

Wow! Look what you find on the Internet when you're looking for something entirely different! Anyway...

Madame Jeanette was a favourite of my high school Madrigal Choir.

Madame Jeanette when the sun goes down / Sits at her door in the rush of the town / Waiting for someone each close of the day / For someone who sleeps at St. Pierre they say.

The 2nd verse goes:

Madame Jeanette, when the stars shine bright / Sits at her window and looks through the night / looking for someone to pass by the way / For someone who sleeps at St. Pierre they say.

And then...

Madame Jeanette, she will wait there I know / 'Til her eyes have grown dim, and her hair's white as snow / Wait there and watch there 'til one of these days / They take her to slumber in Pere La Chaise, in Pere La Chaise.

It is a beautiful yet simple choral piece, & the harmonies in the arrangement we sang veered into an almost barbershop quartet sort of thing by the 3rd verse.

Thanks for the memories!

July 20, 2007 at 6:30:00 AM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm another hauntee who has looked for the lyrics many times. Does the song mention Ste Chappelle? Was there a similar piece we sang in high school that mentioned Ste Chappelle?

August 22, 2007 at 2:57:00 AM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's heart-warming to know that I'm not alone! I'm an American living in Hong Kong, remembering my Michigan choir recitals from 20+ years ago and have always been haunted by this beautiful song. Thank you to everyone who has contributed information and lyrics.

December 28, 2007 at 12:12:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous W.L. "ZEV" said...

Thanks folks. I've been thinking about this song for a while. I sang it in the early 60's with the NYC All City High School Chorus under Peter J. Wilhausky and still remember the eerily mesmerising and spiritual feeling that comes over one when the song is sung right. This is the Chorus's perennial encore and alums in the audience used to (and i hope still do) almost all stand and sing with the current chorus. Ther is a great article about the Chorus and this song by Stephen J. Gold in the NY Times, I found it at the same time I googled this page
I've even thinking of going to the concert this year and trying to relive a magical moment.
W.L. ZEV Wexler SHS'63

December 30, 2007 at 7:09:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how do I find the music??? It's not on cpdl.org. Is it available anywhere?

January 5, 2008 at 3:10:00 AM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Admitting to be an addict, too.
And wouldn't wonder, if the "American living in Hong Kong" who posted a couple of weeks ago, was the one who infected me.

Cheers, Stefan, in Hanoi.

January 20, 2008 at 9:21:00 AM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.madame-jeanette.v-nam.net/
... nothing said.
Stefan

January 20, 2008 at 11:07:00 AM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the end of the second verse, the lyrics we sang in the Dickinson
College Glee Club fifty years ago: "Waiting for someone to pass down the way. Someone who fell at St. Pierre, they say." I always thought that the battle of St. Pierre took place in the Franco-Prussian War, but I Googled it and found that it actually took place in December of 1813 during the Napoleonic wars. Wellington defeated the French General Soult. The town of St. Pierre where the 1813 battle took place is in southern France, so I doubt that another battle might have been fought there in any later war. All the action in France during the Franco-Prussian War and World War I took place much further north.

January 28, 2008 at 6:25:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sister was in NYC All City Chorus and they sang Madame Janette and it has haunted me some 30 years now.

January 30, 2008 at 2:32:00 AM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or... is Madame Jeanette waiting for someone killed May 27, 1871 along with the other "Communards" at Pere-Lachaise (sometimes known at St. Pere) Cemetary. Might St. Pierre be a corruption of St. Pere? Should the line read, "someone who fell at St Pere they say"? When Madame J is laid in Pere Lachaise will she be rejoining her bethrothed who never came home?

February 18, 2008 at 4:31:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just discovered this blog as the song came back to me after 40 years. I used it with a civic boy-choir in Ohio about 1957; the lyrics and music are so haunting it even got to some of the kids. I have copies of it and will be happy to send to whomever it was that wanted it. wedavis@stx.rr.com

June 21, 2008 at 11:46:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger stoppuller said...

I used Madame Jeanette years ago with a civic boy choir. Some of the kids were almost overcome with both music and text -- beautiful!
Someone asked about avaibility of the music. I have multiple copies in my library and would be happy to send to anyone wanting one. I have no idea if it is still in print.

June 22, 2008 at 3:33:00 AM GMT+2  
Blogger stoppuller said...

In reply to the person who wanted a copy of Madame Jeannette, I have a set and will be glad to send one to anyone requesting. I used this lovely song with a civic boy-choir I directed some 45 years ago.

June 22, 2008 at 3:36:00 AM GMT+2  
Blogger EricChaffey said...

Hi Stoppuller,

I would love to have a copy of the music for this. I am actually working on a paper for a college class right now and this song fits in perfectly. I first heard it about 25 years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. It seems to have gone out of print and I can't find it anywhere. Let me know how to get in touch with you. My e-mail address is, eric.chaffey@utah.edu

Thanks!

July 22, 2008 at 11:38:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This music is available from 'musicroom.com' at quite a price! I'm doing this piece with a district high school honor chorus in north Georgia this November. I remember it from the '80s when it was done as an All-State piece in Georgia. As every says, it stays in your memory. I hope to pass it on to another generation of teens.

September 18, 2008 at 6:02:00 AM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only person who was thinking of this song until I found this site. I sang it in Jr.High School and didn't particularly like it at the time; but! it is hauntingly beautiful and never leaves you. I love it now!

September 25, 2008 at 1:21:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous Bill Olson said...

Loved the music and lyrics since the 40s, sang it in HS choir. Just happened to think of the song and googled it. Amazed the rest of the world loves it too.
Sure like to get a copy of the music.
olsontru@sbcglobal.net

November 7, 2008 at 3:22:00 AM GMT+1  
Anonymous Coco said...

I sang this song in NY with The All City High School Chorus in the 1980's under John Mottley.All this time later it still plays in my head. The older I get , the more beautiful it becomes.Funny how we all are haunted by the same song. -Coco,1st Alto 1983-86

December 23, 2008 at 6:15:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Rahel said...

I sang "Madame Jeanette" in the late 1970s/early 1980s with my choir in Monroe, New York. I now live in Israel but have never forgotten the song. It came back to me yesterday when I was on Mount Scopus and saw the Jerusalem War Cemetery, where British soldiers who fell in World War I are buried.

December 24, 2008 at 12:09:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to anonomous who posted the beautiful rendition of Madamme Jeanette. I use word association to remember people's names and whenever I meet someone with the name "Jeanette" I think of this song. Problem was, I sang alto so couldn't remember the melody. Hearing it done properly, I now understand our choir master's frutration with us. Sorry, Mr. D.

March 14, 2009 at 6:53:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Robecology said...

I concluded a relationship recently, and in my sadness, thoughts of Madame Jeanette came to mind. I recall preparing for a test in NYC (health dept)in the mid 60's when I happened to catch the all NYC choir singing this tune (rehearsing for a presentation). My jaw dropped. It hooked me. As a former choir singer myself I just went up to the choir, and asked if I could hang with them. We walked through Central Park, I learned the lyrics and sang it with them,even developed a crush on one of the charming female members. I then went home to my college dorm in upstate NY. I am 64 now, and still recall that incredible song, and it wasn't until the sad ending of a relationship that it crept back in to my head. Thanks for this chance to share my emotions.

July 12, 2009 at 2:54:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger leah said...

Does anyone still have a copy of Madame Jeanette that could be emailed? I have been searching for this music for a dear friend who is 78 and sang in with his Brooklyn High School chorus...gets teary just talking about it. I will be glad to pay for any copying costs, etc.
Thank you....
Leslie

July 17, 2009 at 8:39:00 AM GMT+2  
Blogger Robecology said...

I do recall seeing someone on another post who had the lyrics,and offered to copy them for anyone; I just don't remember who. Try googling "Lyrics (or music and lyrics) to Madame Jeanette" I'm pretty sure that's how I found it

July 17, 2009 at 3:58:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous janeth@surewest.net said...

Oh my goodness...I am so surprised that so many of us have been haunted by this song....I sang it with the NY All City Choir in the late 40's thru '51. Peter Wilhousky was the director...I think of it every so often and just happened to think of it again today and trying to remember the words. btw I thought the words were " who fell at St. Perre"

October 18, 2009 at 1:16:00 AM GMT+2  
Blogger horsefoot said...

The mystery has been solved thanks to all of your comments on the "Madame Jeannette" site. When I contacted a high school friend via facebook recently and asked about the lyrics to this song she suggested I Google it. Voila! I found what I wanted. In 1949-1952 I was a member of the special A Cappella choir at Attleboro(MA) High School. We sang this song at many concerts and competitions under the direction of Merritt Danforth. We must have done an o.k. job as we generally won the county and state competitions. For years I have hummed and sung the few words I can remember always feeling the sadness and poignancy this song emits. Am I recalling the song or the halcyon days at AHS? I intend to contact the person who offered a copy of the song. It is wonderful to know there are so many people who treasure this song and that dear Madame Jeannette lives on.

December 7, 2009 at 3:13:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger Scott said...

The Sam Barlow HS Concert Choir in Gresham, OR sang and recorded Madame Jeanette at the first concert of thier new high school in the spring of 1969. Not bad for 32 sophomore and junior teenagers...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy0MsJQ89do

August 19, 2010 at 11:25:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger Art said...

Hello Stoppuller,

I would absolutely love to get a copy of Madame Jeanette. This song, or should I say Madame Jeanette has been a part of my life since I sang about "her" in high school. If you would kindly reply to me at my e-mail address listed below, I will give you my mailing address for a snail mail copy. Thanks very much. I have hunted for this music for a very long time.

Art Greenberg
akgreenberg@gmail.com

August 20, 2010 at 10:38:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been 65 years and the song still haunts me. I would love to find the music, that my high school class may be regaled at our 55th reunion

November 6, 2010 at 7:02:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there anyone who didn't sing "Madame Jeannette"? I learned it and sang it with the Dickinson College Glee Club in 1956or 1957. As I recall, the arrangement we sang came from our brother glee clubbers at Dartmouth.

June 1, 2011 at 5:22:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sang this song with Roxborough High, Phila PA in 1960 and it haunts me as well especially since I found a long lost love from then and is now dying from cancer

December 30, 2011 at 2:01:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, sang this beautiful song. It became the "signature" piece of our choir. This was back in 1958 at a small school in a small town in Pennsylvania. We had a wonderful choir director who introduced us to such varied music.

June 27, 2012 at 7:50:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Late to the party, but felt the need to add to the list of fans of this song. I came across it via the Steven Gold piece in the NYT while researching Peter J. Wilhousky for an ancestry project (no blood relation, as it turns out, but ancestors from the same village & close family ties over the years). I have never heard Wilhousky's chorus perform this - does anyone know if there is a recording of any of his All-City Chorus performances that include this? The Calhoun Chorus version is mesmerizing, I expect to be humming it when I visit Pere Lachaise cemetery this year. Added to the poignant lyrics, the harmonies & dynamics are so moving...

February 24, 2014 at 4:50:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Late to the fan club, but felt the need to add to the list of comments about this song! I came across it via the Steven Gold piece in the NYT while seating Peter J. Wilhousky for an ancestry project (families from the same little Slovakian village). The Calhoun Chorus version is mesmerizing - in addition to the poignant words, the harmonies & dynamics are quite moving. Does anyone know if there is a recording of the Wilhousky All-City Chorus performing this song? I would love to find it. I am among those haunted by this song now, even though I never performed it.

February 24, 2014 at 4:58:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Robert Henry Pike said...

I feel like Madame Jeannette; I was in NY city the summer of 1964, taking a test to certify for working for the Dept of Health, when I heard that song being sung by a chorus. I went in to the auditorium and was smitten by a young woman singing it. I introduced myself to her, went to lunch with her, and didn't have the courage to follow up with getting her name and number. I have since been married 4 times, and that sweet voice and smile is still on my mind.

February 24, 2014 at 9:37:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Walter Davis (wwdavis@stx.rr.com) said...

In reading all these comments, I discovered my own 'way up he line where I promised to send anyone who wanted it; the offer still holds, I have a full set of it from the days in 1950s when I used it with my Middletown, Ohio Boychoir. I think J. Fischer published it with Wilhousky listed as the arranger. If anyone is still interested, I will send one of these originals or e- mail, depending on copyright dates.

June 22, 2014 at 4:11:00 AM GMT+2  

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