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French rail jingle inspires Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour

Legendary Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour performs in Paris in 2006
Legendary Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour performs in Paris in 2006 AFP

French railway stations, often the bane of disgruntled unions and delayed travellers, are not usually associated with artistic creation. But it was in such a place that rock legend David Gilmour found inspiration for a forthcoming tune.

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A four-note jingle – do, sol, la, mi – routinely used by France’s national SNCF railway company before announcing travel alerts to passengers is the basis for Gilmore’s soon-to-be-released song Rattle that Lock, French media outlets reported this week.

The jingle’s composer, Michaël Boumendil, told RTL radio on Thursday how he was “very surprised” when Gilmour telephoned his office one day. “I’m a guitarist, from the band Pink Floyd,” Boumendil recalled Gilmour saying as a way of introduction.

Gilmour, whose collaboration on titles like Wish you Were Here and Another Brick in the Wall have earned him a place in Rock music’s pantheon, first heard the SNCF jingle while waiting for a Paris-bound train in the south-eastern city of Aix-en-Provence, according to Boumendil.

The rock legend reportedly pulled out his telephone on the spot to record the melody.Two months later, the pair was discussing the details of a full collaboration.

High standards

Boumendil, who runs a company specialising in developing musical identities for companies and products, said he had received 15 previous requests to refashion or sample the jingle in the past 10 years, refusing all of them.

But Gilmour’s offer was different.

“He’s not just a musician,” Boumendil said of the Pink Floyd guitarist. “He’s a real legend, and someone who has very high standards when it comes to music.”

Rattle that Lock, co-written by Gilmour and Boumendil, will be released on July 17, 2015.

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