April 8, 2011

Repost: "La Pluie Du Ciel" to "Chinatown"


I find sampling to be one of the more interesting topics in popular music. People rip off chord patterns and melodies from other artists all the time and its rarely ever noticeable, but with sampling the artist is putting the source material out into the foreground, fully admitting their influences. Does it bother you when a song relies so heavily on someone else's original work? Is a song stronger when it's entirely original? For some artists, sampling is of course comparative to playing an instrument. So maybe it doesn't matter at all, as long as long as the song is strong and compelling? These are the kind of questions I ask myself when listening to an artist like Dirty Beaches, who for instance on "Lord Knows Best," recycles the piano and parts of the melody from French singer Francoise Hardy's "Viola."

In 2010, one of the more overlooked samplings was featured in the tasteful and acclaimed "Chinatown" by Jack Tatum's Wild Nothing. The backbone of Tatum's song is an instrumental line taken from "La Pluie Du Ciel" by another French singer, Chantal Goya. "La Pluie Du Ciel," which translates to "The Rain From Heaven," shares only that one instrumental melody with "Chinatown," but it's one that Tatum relies on and repeats incessantly. Sampling is of course an integral part of contemporary music, but the source material is often never advertised and instead left for the listener to discover on their own. Perhaps that's part of the fun of listening to bands like Dirty Beaches and Wild Nothing: it's up to you to figure out where the nuts and bolts of these songs are culled from. Tatum's tasteful crate-digging here is what makes "Chinatown" work, but my guess is the majority of the song's listeners have no idea it's not a completely original work. Should Goya's contribution be credited more? What do you think?

Chantal Goya - "La Pluie Du Ciel" (from Les Années 60)
Wild Nothing - "Chinatown" (from Gemini)



  1. I literally stumbled across this today myself, as I was listening to a Chantal Goya comp. I had listened to both for a while and never made the connection either!

  2. Nice catch!! Sounds like they actually remade the sample, too.

  3. Dirty Beaches wrote an essay on the ethics of sampling: http://dirtybeaches.blogspot.com/2011/04/reflection-on-sampling-and-exorcising.html