Dominique Sanda, Coltrane, et Moi

If you’re single and a music lover (by that I mean serious, not casual listener) you might have hoped you would meet your perfect match and the music part would be part of it all.  Some people might want somebody who loves classical music and can listen to and enjoy an entire Mahler symphony without falling asleep. Or somebody who mirrors your love for Human League, Duran Duran, Hall & Oates, and other 80’s music.

Back when I was single and looking out for that special someone I wanted a woman who loved jazz, especially modern jazz:  Miles and Coltrane. Especially Coltrane. Back in the 1980s, being both a Francophone and a Francophile, I saw as many auteur films as I could:  Truffaut, Malle, Agnès Varda, Nicole Garcia, Beineix, Betty Blue, and others. I admired actors and actresses too:  Deneuve, Delon, Sandrine Bonnaire and others. One actress I particularly loved was Dominique Sanda. I saw her early films like A Gentle Woman, then later films such as the brilliant The Conformist, Une Chambre en Ville, and the movie she made in Vietnam just after the American War ended, Poussière d’Empire (Empire of Dust).

When she walked into KCRW’s studios in the late 1980s to be a guest DJ on KCRW’s Castaway’s Choice–based on the perennially popular BBC radio program Desert Island Discs--hosted by John McNally, I was temporarily distracted from my duties as host of Morning Becomes Eclectic. I suddenly beheld an actress who was part of my celluloid universe. I pressed the console buttons to listen in on what she brought with her and heard Coltrane’s amazing song, “India”. This was the very song that started my musical life. I was transfixed, smitten two times over. I wasn’t able to meet or speak with her after her session, but from a distance I felt I had just encountered a new soulmate.

John McNally, a longtime producer at KCRW now living in Europe, was kind enough to send me her playlist from that day almost 30 years ago. On his weekly program Castaway’s Choice, he interviewed the likes of Graham Nash, Isabelle Huppert, Joe Zawinul, David Crosby, Patrick Stewart, Philip Glass, Bobby Short, Frank Zappa, and other luminaries. Having his his star-studded guests talk about music was a great device to find out more about them.  It was more illuminating than any straight interview, and I learned a great deal from listening to Castaway’s Choice.

Here is French actress Dominique Sanda’s top 10 records from her November 2, 1987, visit to the show. You can see she is truly a mélomane, the French word for music lover:

  1. Franz Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major, D.956, Op.163 2. Adagio – Welcome to Vienna
  2. Pink Floyd – Eclipse
  3. Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante in E Flat Major
  4. Rolling Stones – Time Waits for No one.
  5. The Doors – Spanish Caravan
  6. Schubert – String Quartet No. 14 in D minor (Death and the Maiden)
  7. John Coltrane – India
  8. Miles Davis – Pan Piper (from Sketches of Spain)
  9. Gluck – Dance of the Blessed Spirits (Melody), arrangement (from “Orfeo ed Euridice”)
  10. Edith Piaf – L’homme a la Moto

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