Monday, May 24, 2010

Charlotte Gainsbourg "IRM"

For clinicians looking for medical songs to pull out for discussion, you may want to add this song by French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg. The song, IRM is from her new album of the same name. IRM, the album, was released Jan. 26, 2010 on the Elekra/Asylum label. Co-written, mixed and produced by Beck, the album is described by Michael Katzif from NPR as having "lyrical subtlety and layered details that unspool upon each listen"

The title song, IRM, is the french name for MRI, as in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The background story is that in 2007 Charlotte had a skiing accident in the states. After the minor accident she began having headaches, and subsequent serial MRI's were preformed. Ultimately she required surgical decompression from a hematoma.

She says that during the MRI procedures, she'd listen to the whirring of the machine thinking what great background it would make for a song. While many of us may hear sounds in our daily lives that we randomly think could fit into a song- she did it. But it's not just background, the lyrics themselves are about the procedure as well. Below are the lyrics and then song:

Take a picture, what's inside?
Ghost image in my mind
Neural pattern like a spider
Capillary to the centre

Hold still and press the button
Looking through a glass onion
Following the x-ray eye
From the cortex to medulla

Analyze EKG
Can you see a memory?
Register all my fear
On a flowchart disappear

Leave my head demagnetized
Tell me where the trauma lies
In the scan of pathogen
Or the shadow of my sin.

Anyone who's had an MRI, or been around them won't have trouble hearing the machine sound. I even think the drum beat has the sound of a tachycardic pulse. The lyrics help contrast so well the impersonal world of medicine with the idea of being human, i.e. "can you see a memory?"

Here's the song from YouTube below.

1 Responses to “Charlotte Gainsbourg "IRM"”

Christian Sinclair said...
May 25, 2010 at 9:32 PM

Oh yeah you can totally hear the MRI machine! I think I remember hearing this piece on NPR. How funny.