Gil Scott-Heron's song "Racetrack in France" was on his album with Brian Jackson and the Midnight Band entitled "Bridges".Released in 1977, the song was a wonderful bridge between rock and jazz music. While Gil Scott-Heron is most famous for his poetic protest songs, this was a hip, upbeat, feel-good tune. Listening to it in the 1970s, I wondered what it was about France that inspired Gil Scott Heron in this way.Later in life, I was fortunate to find out.
To me, the song "Racetrack in France" is about the French vibe. The French are different, and they relish that. There is an artistic sense in just about everything they do---in the way people dress, speak and behave; in their cuisine, in the architecture, in the way they hang out on the beach, and even in the summertime games they play. And their flag, the Tricolore, is so simple that is like a Rothko painting. Ask a Frenchman a simple question, and probably they'll respond with a long-winding tale of the history of France, and then finally they'll come to the point. Being in France is an exercise in letting-go, relaxing and enjoying the hipness that surrounds you. And I think it was this "vibe" that Gil Scott-Heron was describing in his fusion-infused masterpiece, Racetrack in France.
For this series, I've drawn on photos that I've taken in my travels in France over the past thirty years. These were taken in many different parts of France---from the royal boulevards of Paris to the sunny beaches of the far South, and with plenty in between.Most are street scenes and several are drawn from the markets, which are themselves a site to behold.