Text or Song?

Text read by Mary Peters

In the continuing series of his music, Jean-Yves Ragot has a new take on the chicken or egg question.


I am often asked whether I write the lyrics or the music first. With Jonathan Livingston Seagull, you could follow the creation of a rhythm. Today, let me tell you the story of a song with lyrics that I did not write.

Once upon a time…more than 60 years ago, in Saverne, a five/six-year-old boy grew up with his parents and grandmother in a house close to the station restaurant and the immense Vosges forests. 

This sensitive child collected images, sensations, and memories from these few years in Saverne, which nourished his artistic vocation. This child would become a draughtsman, illustrator, poet, songwriter, translator, filmmaker… and a great defender of the Alsatian dialect. As well as my friend. He composed the graphic model of the 33 rpm record I told you about last time. His name is Raymond Piela.

Raymond Piela

In the year 2000, a collection of his poems was published and sold in bookshops. One text, in particular, caught my attention. “In those years”. And what I have described of his childhood fully illuminates this beautiful text. The rhythm and phrasing of the first bars of my music forced me to adapt the text and make choices. 

I recorded a version in 2001. A recording that, strangely enough, I forgot about until that beautiful day in April 2020. In the middle of the Lockdown Act 1. I took out my Revox, a mythical tape recorder, to listen to my old tapes. Amongst my, fifteen or so reels, was the surprising In those years. It doesn’t sound like any of my songs.

I couldn’t play it again like in 2001. I didn’t have the same keyboard or software, and therefore the same sounds. To add it to our repertoire, I tried to match it as close as possible to what I had done in 2001. Chris included his rich and tonic musical ideas.

 I will let you discover it, and in pictures, here:

Copyright Jean Yves Ragot

 Wishing you the best of luck, until next time, with a totally different song.

 Jean-Yves