“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service IS joy.” Rabindranath Tagore
À quoi je sers… (what am I good for…) is a song not appearing on any studio album by Mylène Farmer. It was released as a single on July 17, 1989 with a second unreleased track on the B side, La veuve noire.
As you can see now this song included into the newly released Polydor collection:
The lyrics of the song À quoi je sers … were written by Mylène Farmer. The music was composed by Laurent Boutonnat. There is a curious link from this song lyrics to the one from yesterday Tu ne le dis pas
It’s no accident, I selected this song closer to the completion of this project. I think it summarizes beautifully what Mylene is all about…We know by now what and whom she serves and even better said, what she is good for. There are very few people out there who still have doubts about her worth. I, sure, hope this journey is an enlightening one for Mylene herself. I can only add I feel so very fortunate that once upon a time little girl named Mylene decided to find out what she is good for and created a beautiful world where we all feel home for so many years. It is my home away from my final astral home. It is for sure! Until I cross the Styx, she is my Earthy Soul family. I pray we’ll meet again in one beautiful heartfelt crowd in less than 2 years during her NEVERMORE. [2023 edit: Yes we did and it was one of a kind experience]!
And afterwards, with God’s will, I hope we all will find our Milky Way some day🧡
“A présent je peux me taire, si tout devient dégout” (“Now I can keep my mouth shut, if everything becomes disgusting”)
I personally always adored this song. It is as beautiful melodically (with just awesome guitar solo) as it is textually. It strikes a chord in me. Also did you notice how Mylene uses “…” in the end of the song title. It is also something I catch myself doing a lot. There is so much to say and express but as you are trying to put it into words it loses its meaning, so “…” does better job very often.
Off the bet, the song is reminiscent of the recent Voie lactée song from Interstellaires.
A text full of self-doubts was written by Mylène during the first performances of her career, she was pretty shocked by the strong exchange and unexpected communion with her audience.
” I wrote À quoi je sers… a little after the start of the Palais des sports (in May 1989, editor’s note). Because that’s the question I asked myself: to shout what the others do not dare to shout.” (Mylène Farmer – Télé 7 Jours – 11/27/1989)
I can see how the self-esteem issues have been haunting Mylene for many years – from the very childhood I would imagine. I can totally resonate with that as it is my quest in this lifetime as well. Finding self-worth and directing it into creative process is probably the best outcome one can hope for. I am sure seeing how you affect the masses is not easy thing to acknowledge and find peace with. With great power comes great responsibility – no pressure here 😊
“It was so gigantic. Young people, often encumbered with taboos to be understood … And I have the feeling to say to them, like Briel in his song: “No Jeff, you’re not alone.” Without any pretense, I now know that’s what I’m good for. Also there is nothing to be ashamed of in sex. Everything is normal in love. I never thought I would one day be one of those artists who sublimate their audiences. ” (Mylène Farmer – France Evening – 12/07/1989)
This text would have been written precisely in June, after the end of the first part of the tour, at the same time as the La veuve noire, in a rented villa near Nice, villa with the atmosphere, it was said, “mysterious and unspeakable”.
One could have imagined Mylène writing these words, alone in her dressing room, during probably painful and very destabilizing minutes, after having received for two hours the love of thousands of spectators. How to accept it? How to feel worthy of it?
There are almost cruel moments when the artist finds herself alone facing her destiny and all the doubts that may then emerge.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think I’m useful to anyone. It would be very pretentious of me. I think you can bring people together around an emotion. Now having such warm people in front of me every night, somehow it doesn’t help. It doesn’t prevent me from wondering what am I good for ” (Mylène Farmer – Hi – 04/10/1991)
Mylène was strongly influenced by the reading of the work of Luc Dietrich who offers her the expression “living dust” which opens this song. It seems to be inspired by two lines of the poem The Learning of the city: “If I’m not useful, it wasn’t / The pain to keep me from dying.”
Fascinated by this author, undoubtedly because he “never lost his child’s eyes”, as his friend described Lanza del Vasto.
“And even if I managed to stand up, for what, for whom?”, We find at Dietrich. Words that the singer takes up in her own way: “Every hour asks / For whom, for what to stand up.”
The introductory guitar riff played by Slim Pezin serves as the musical basis for the B-side of the 45, the also unreleased song, La veuve noire.
A remix of the song, the “Club Remix” is created by Laurent Boutonnat and Thierry Rogen.
In June 1989, after her first meeting on stage with her audience at the Palais des Sports in Paris, Mylène returned to the studio with Laurent Boutonnat to record two new songs, À quoi je sers … and La veuve noire. Fans are surprised to discover What I serve … on radio in July after the end of the exploitation of the last single from the album Ainsi soit je, Sans logique.
Three media are available starting July 17, 1989: a 45 rpm, a maxi cd (the old maxi CDs were in cardboard sleeves, not yet in crystal or digipak cases) and a maxi 45 rpm.
Mylène Farmer À quoi je sers… 45 Tours Mylène Farmer – À quoi je sers… – CD Maxi Mylène Farmer – À quoi je sers… – Maxi 45 Tours
The photo of Marianne Rosenstiehl illustrating the supports was taken in a dressing room after a concert, without Mylène’s knowledge.
“Marianne Rosenstiehl took it from my dressing room at the Palais des Sports… I love it. ” (Mylène Farmer – Télé Moustique – 12/10/1989)
The title reached 16th place in the French top 50 and it will sell around 120,000 copies. It is also very successful in radio, reaching 2nd place in airplay in France in October.
On November 23, 1992, we find the “Remix Club” of À quoi je sers … on the Dance Remixes album
On November 26, 2001, Mylène’s first best-of was released, Les mots. The title À quoi je sers ... is present in the setlist in its single version. First time that we find the song (in a version not remixed, nor live) in an album.
On February 8, 2019, release of a maxi 45 rpm orange offered in a limited edition exclusively on the Universal Music Store website. The clip is directed by Laurent Boutonnat and seems to want to reflect the end of an era. It is broadcast from August 1989.
Mylene, of course, visits her favorite Styx theme and develops it greatly in collaboration with Boutonnat. This black and white clip is full of symbolism and philosophical to say the least. The clip is shot in picturesque manner. It was supposedly a pretty warm day but they all had to have coats on. Plus Mylene was seasick and perhaps, it contributed to her melancholy look.
In the end you can see all the memorable characters from the previous videos are walking along the water. I am sure its Laurent subtle ways to remind us what exactly she served to us…
Mylène performs À quoi je sers… three times on television in programs broadcast at the start of the school year, before leaving for her tour
For these three televised passages (recorded before Mylène left for Grenoble for the rehearsals of the second part of Tour 89), Mylène was accompanied on guitar by Slim Pezin (then guitarist on Tour 89). The musician told in an interview that it was Mylène who insisted that he is paid.
Mylène performed À quoi je sers … on the second part of Tour 89 from September 19 to December 8, 1989. The title is added to the setlist after Allan (Mylène keeps exactly the same costume to perform these two songs) Arrangements for the stage: Laurent Boutonnat and Bruno Fontaine.
To the surprise of the fans, Mylène sings again À QUOI JE SERS … during the indoor concerts in France of the 2009 Tour from May 2 to June 22, 2009.
For the two concerts in Russia in St Petersburg and Moscow, the song is discarded in favor of L’Amour est rien …, a huge hit in this country.
The song is not selected for the setlist of concerts in stadiums of the Tour 2009 in September.
Dereck! I personally disagree with most of what he said on this one (sorry, Dereck, ignorance is a bliss) Would be nice if you read this article 🙂
MY POETRY INSPIRED BY SONG
Why am I on this Earth?
and not elsewhere?
What is a reason of my lungs inhaling air
It got to be the Purpose! But of course
Desire is the only real force
which brought me into LIFE…
Then WHO’s desire I am product of?
Who cries with every tear I shed?
Who shares all the pain and joy
Who sends me LOVE?
Am I compliant, am I good enough?
By being ME the best that I can be
By bringing feeling into every day
Who do I serve?
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lyrics with translation
Poussière vivante, je cherche en vain ma voie lactée Dans ma tourmente, je n'ai trouvé qu'un mausolée Et je divague J'ai peur du vide Je tourne des pages mais des pages vides Poussière errante, je n'ai pas su me diriger Chaque heure demande pour qui, pour quoi se redresser Et je divague J'ai peur du vide Pourquoi ces larmes dis, à quoi bon vivre? Mais mon Dieu de quoi j'ai l'air, je sers à rien du tout Et qui peut dire dans cet enfer, ce qu'on attend de nous, j'avoue Ne plus savoir à quoi je sers, sans doute à rien du tout A présent je peux me taire, si tout devient dégout Poussière brulante, la fièvre a eu raison de moi Je ris sans rire, je vis, je fais n'importe quoi Et je divague J'ai peur du vide Je tourne des pages mais des pages vides Mais mon Dieu de quoi j'ai l'air, je sers à rien du tout Et qui peut dire dans cet enfer, ce qu'on attend de nous, j'avoue Ne plus savoir à quoi je sers, sans doute à rien du tout A présent je peux me taire, si tout devient dégout Mais mon Dieu de quoi j'ai l'air, je sers à rien du tout Et qui peut dire dans cet enfer, ce qu'on attend de nous, j'avoue Ne plus savoir à quoi je sers, sans doute à rien du tout A présent je peux me taire, si tout devient dégout Mais mon Dieu de quoi j'ai l'air, je sers à rien du tout Et qui peut dire dans cet enfer, ce qu'on attend de nous, j'avoue Ne plus savoir à quoi je sers, sans doute à rien du tout A présent je peux me taire, si tout devient dégout
Living dust, I seek in vain my milky way In my torment, I found only a mausoleum And I ramble I am afraid of the void I turn pages but empty pages Wandering dust, I did not know how to direct myself Each hour asks for whom, for what to stand up And I'm rambling I am afraid of the void Why these tears say, what is the point of living? But my God, what do I look like, I'm useless at all And who can say in this hell, what is expected of us, I confess I don't know what I'm good for, probably nothing at all Now I can keep quiet, if everything becomes disgusting Burning dust, the fever got the best of me I laugh without laughing, I live, I do anything And I ramble I am afraid of the void I turn pages but empty pages But my God, what do I look like, I'm useless at all And who can tell in this hell, what is expected of us, I confess I don't know what I'm good for, probably nothing at all Now I can keep quiet, if everything becomes disgusting But my God, what do I look like, I'm no good at all And who can say in this hell, what is expected of us, I confess I don't know what I'm good for, probably nothing at all Now I can keep quiet, if everything becomes disgusting But my God, what do I look like, I'm no good at all And who can say in this hell, what is expected of us, I confess I don't know what I'm good for, probably nothing at all Now I can keep my mouth shut, if everything becomes disgusting