“Souviens-toi du jour” (English: “Remember the Day”) is a 1999 song recorded by Mylène Farmer. It was the third single from her fifth studio album Innamoramento and was released on 2 September 1999. She was 10 days shy of her 38th birthday. The song is perhaps best remembered for its controversial music video, and by the very important topic of Holocaust.
Initially, Farmer wanted to release the ballad “Et si vieillir m’était conté” as third single from the album Innamoramento. However, although promotional plans were already made, she changed her mind and preferred to release “Souviens-toi du jour”, as her record label Universal wanted to market a rhythmic single to obtain higher sales than that of the previous single, “Je te rends ton amour“.
The song was much broadcasted on radio, reaching a peak of number eight on French airplay chart four months after the promotional CD had been sent. Some radios stations, including NRJ, aired the ‘sweet guitar mix’ version of the song.
Among the various promotional formats, there was an orange envelope released on 2 September 1999. This envelope contains a silvery pocket within which there are seven transparent stones. This is undoubtedly a “reference to the symbol of memory in the Jewish religion”.
Flame motif envelope (18 * 15 cm), on which is written the title of the song and sealed with a black wax seal stamped with the initials MF.
This envelope contains the transparent single-title promo CD in its cardboard sleeve and a small gray envelope on which is also written the title of the song and in which are seven translucent pebbles (undoubtedly a reference to the symbol of memory in the Jewish tradition)
Price: 150 € (like new) / 200 € (sealed)
Leaving stones or pebbles on a grave is an ancient Jewish tradition, although its origins are unclear. It is not a commandment, rather a custom or tradition. Flowers, though beautiful, will eventually die. A stone can symbolize the stones-on-graves permanence of memory and will not die.
The text of the song Souviens-toi du jour evokes the Holocaust with a strong reference to Primo Levi’s book “Si c’est un homme” (English Survival in Auschwitz)
Mylène had planned to give the song the name “Si c’est un homme” but finally changed her mind, thinking that reusing the title of Primo Levi’s book could lead to copyright issues.
Mylène confirmed in an interview this reference to Primo Levi’s book:
“Maybe we don’t understand the real meaning of this song, and maybe that’s good! But to tell you anyway, me, what I thought… I have a book that I read, re-read and re-read which is called Si c’est un homme by Primo Levi, which haunts me, which is a wonderful book. So it is a subject, obviously, which is important to me. ..) It was about the memory, of these events, and which are still in the news. The memory… The memory of these moments … “
The topic is very painful for me as well. I have many Jewish friends. I am married to a Jewish man and raise Jewish children. The way Jews were treated only a few decades ago breaks my heart. I am glad Mylene feels the same way. When I was just a kid (about 8 years old or so) my mom went to Poland and Germany as a tourist, and she visited Auschwitz as one of their destinations. She brought a book back home that I was both terrified of and drawn to too. There was a human scull on the cover. Inside there was a detailed history of Auschwitz with many photos. Bloodcurdling horrific images forever imprinted in my mind as I’ve learned what happened there. I can say my life was never the same after that. I could not comprehend then as I cannot comprehend now how can such a horror can be imposed by one human being over another.
Today in the news we hear about Israel Palestinian military conflict (again). People lose their lives, innocent blood spills (again). When will we finally Remember the day!?
Like all her previous singles from the album, the video was directed by famous Marcus Nispel who had previously worked with the singer on “XXL“, “L’Instant X” and “Comme j’ai mal“. It was shot over the course of two days in Los Angeles, and cost about 100,000 euros. The video was first broadcasted on 21 September 1999, when the Mylenium Tour started.
The video, which shows an apartment and its old furniture as they catch fire, was filmed in a building destined for destruction. Among the things that burn, there are a clock, a painting and some books, including Hitler’s Mein Kampf and other German ideological books, and letters of the singer, as shows it the address on the envelopes.
Farmer wore a dress made in plastic made by Thierry Mugler which had been worn by the singer when she performed “Ainsi soit-je...” in September 1997 in TV program “Les enfants de la Une”, and which began to melt during the shooting of the video, as it had difficulty to withstand heat. Because of risks linked to the fire, there were firefighters present on the shooting. Images of the video do not follow the chronological order of events, as some furniture are shown intact after being burned.
This video is among the least appreciated by critics, partly due to its perceived lack of respect towards the Holocaust, as Farmer stands in suggestive positions, and her clothes are almost transparent. According to author Erwan Chuberre, the video “was made somewhat in haste and with modest means”.
French magazine Instant-Mag said about the video: “The quality, good taste and value of this short film are frankly debatable. Not only it doesn’t contribute towards the work, but moreover, it has a certain vibe that it was shot in a hurry, with a cock-and-bull accumulation of colorful images, which also have very little to do with the theme of the song. The gap is rather embarrassing, even oppressive, and some people find it downright insulting and inappropriate”.
Farmer’s position on a sofa, elbows resting on knees and head bowed as to protect herself from fire at the very end of the video, would be inspired by the text Le Brasier, written by French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, in which it can be read: “Et pour toujours je suis assis dans un fauteuil (…) / Les flammes ont poussé sur moi comme des feuilles.”(“And forever I’m sitting in an armchair (…) / The flames pushed on me like leaves.”)
In France, “Souviens-toi du jour” debuted at a peak position in the French SNEP Singles Chart, on 2 October 1999 when it directly entered the chart at number four. Despite its initial success, the single fell rather quickly the next weeks, although it managed to have a longer stretch in the top 50 (15 weeks) than the two previous singles from the album. It spent a total of 22 weeks in the top 100 and ranked at number 79 in the 1999 Annual Chart. Perhaps the Mylenium Tour had something to do with the longevity. Certified silver single by the SNEP, “Souviens-toi du jour” bacame the best-selling single released from the album Innamoramento.
Mylene promoted the song in two French television shows: Tapis rouge, broadcast on 11 September 1999 on France 2, and 100% Johnny, on 12 November 1999 on TF1, as Farmer was personally invited by Johnny Hallyday.
“Souviens-toi du jour” was performed during the Mylenium Tour 2000 concerts tour with a simple choreography referring to the universal sign language, with her eight dancers. She wore a red dress with a very long train. After performing the song, Farmer congratulated the audience and said goodbye, then twice repeated the chorus with the audience. This performance was included on the live album and the DVD Mylenium Tour. It is a last song of the act IV of the concert. Before the Encore.
Mylène seems to want to remind us that man is as good at building as he is at destroying. And she emphasizes this message with all her emotions making it a song to remember!
She directly calls out to those who read or listen to her, even imploring them through her many “Remember” never to forget.
Unlike Primo Levi’s book, Mylène’s text is imbued with optimism and hope.
Even referring to these “disenchanted days”, Mylène still seems to believe in Man and his ability to offer the best after the worst.
This song can even be interpreted as a true hymn to life.
Reference also in the text to poems by Pierre Reverdy.
Thus, when Mylène writes: “And these tight faces / For a minute / For an eternity”, we think of the verses: “There are characters who are born / For a minute or for Eternity” from the poem “Between two worlds “from the collection Les Ardoises du toit (1918).
The first part of the song’s chorus: “The breath barely escaped / The eyes are wet / And those tight faces / For a minute / For an eternity / The hands rose” seems to have been inspired in Mylène by the poem “Lampshade” from the collection Les Ardoises du toit: “The hands are posed / Bluer on the carpet / Behind the ray a head which reads / A breath which barely escapes”.
Finally, reference to Hebrew.
On the back of the cover of the CD single and CD maxi are written (in Hebrew alphabet) the words “Zokher eth Ayom” meaning in Hebrew language “Remember the day”.
Mylène also pronounces these lyrics (Zokher eth Ayom) in the song:
“It’s Hebrew and it just means, ‘Remember the day’, it’s in the Torah. When I wrote this song, it’s because (…) I have a bedside book called “Si c’est un homme” precisely by Primo Levi, and which evokes the deportation and I wanted to talk about that (…), there are several possible readings but it is what I thought and this idea that this need to remember these things”
In the Torah literally said: “Remember, Don’t Forget!”
The many commandments in Judaism relating to remembering both positive and negative experiences motivate us to work towards redemption.
The music was composed by Laurent Boutonnat. Remember the day is one of Mylène’s songs with a very catchy and dancing rhythm associated with a very dark text. I have to confess, initially I thought this was a love song…famous Solomon’s Song of Songs perhaps since I got the Jewish references pretty quickly.
But I was so wrong!… This song is definitely more multifaceted than the most.
A first layout had been created for this song in 1997. It was planned that the song, which was then titled Le rêve d’un homme, would be interpreted by Johnny Hallyday as the anthem of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. A project which didn’t materialize.
Four remixes of the track (each featuring the entire song, verses + choruses) are offered by Royal Garden Sound and Stray Dog Music.
I actually found more remixes here: http://www.remyxes.com/remixo/remixnonoff/stdj.htm
Two remixes of Royal Garden Sound revisit the song by offering a very refined version in the “Royal G’s Radio Mix” and a jazzier version in the “Sweet Guitar Mix”.
Royal Garden Sound offers a third remix, the “Royal G’s Club Mix” much more techno in its sounds.
Finally, Stray Dog Music, through the “Remember Mix” offers a very dance remix.
Some radio stations, including NRJ, will favor after a few weeks the broadcast of the “Sweet Guitar Mix” to the “Radio Edit” version. It will also be this remixed version which will be broadcast on January 22, 2000 during the ” NRJ Music Awards 2000 ” before the trophies are awarded to Mylène.
Souviens-toi du jour is featured on the album Innamoramento (1999), on the album Mylenium Tour (2000) in live version and in the best of Les Mots (2001) and the Best Of Vol1 / Vol2 box set (2011).
At the end of the song (on the live CD), Mylène says the following words to the audience: “I love you, good evening” before leaving the stage.
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lyrics with translation