Thursday, May 29, 2008

Music and Scent: Pete Yorn's Turn of The Century and L'Heure Bleue

The story of this connection between scent and music begins with a relationship, one that is now sadly severed. When I was a child I used to go visit an aunt in the summers and winters, and the scent of her home was Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue. She was ironically anti-scent, except for her beloved used of amber oil and crushed amber resin, she burned nag champa incense routinely, and her home was located up in the mountains. I remember the first time I dabbed L'Heure Bleue on, I instantly recognized it as a familiar scent, but I could not place it to my memory. As I sat in my truck later on that day with the air-conditioning blaring (it was summer) the realization suddenly hit me, it was the scent of my aunt's home, I felt an ache as I always do when thinking of my aunt. This reaction to L'Heure Bleue is not unknown, for many the scent is the scent of nostalgia with deep emotion. The truth is I cannot wear L'Heure Bleue, I admire it greatly, and out of three greats of Guerlain* it is the one I can wear that shows its true greatness, but the sheer emotional quality of this scent is not something I can spend a day in, it leaves me feeling emotionally drained and in that mood to look over photo albums and tear up a bit. It is the scent of the past in all of its tender pain.

Listening to Pete Yorn's Turn of the Century is to be wrapped up in the loss of a relationship when catching the random glimpse of lover years later and remembering the loss vividly through the fuzzy haze of twilight. The story behind the song is wonderful for it is not based on a relationship of Yorn's but on a fictional relationship. A few years before Baz Luhrman would bring Moulin Rouge to screen, Yorn met Luhrman at a party, where Luhrman told Yorn about the lovers in Moulin Rouge, Yorn was so taken by the story, he ended up writing a song. It's funny but Yorn in the end, got a greater depth of emotion from Luhrman's story, than Luhrman would with his movie.

As much as L'Heure Bleue is a scent of emotional pain for me, it also instantly reminds me of a woman in fur stole at the turn of century in the evening, the evening light coming through the mist and giving everything that blue haze, tinting the tips of that fur stole. And here is where Turn of the Century and L'Heure Bleue meet, they both evoke this quality.

This is a live version of Turn of the Century, the only one I could find to showcase the song, I highly recommend trying to find a cleaner version to get the full feeling of the song:

image provided by
image: Evening by Samuel Palmer 1848
video uploaded by MphsQueen
*Shalimar and Mitsouko rounding out the trio.


Perfumeshrine said...

What a nostalhic post! Enjoyed reading about your memories of the scent and your aunt.
Fragrance holds that power...

Jenavira13 said...

Scent really is a powerful player in my memory. For me the change of the seasons is not visual, but in scent.