My Lady D'Arbanville | Teen Ink

My Lady D'Arbanville

February 6, 2021
By A_E_Sam SILVER, Arendal, Other
A_E_Sam SILVER, Arendal, Other
5 articles 1 photo 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Accept no one's definition of your life, Define yourself.

- Robert Frost

Lady D'Arbanville" is a song written and recorded by Cat Stevens and released in April 1970. It subsequently appeared on his third album, Mona Bone Jakon, released later that year. It was his first single released after signing a contract with Island Records, with the encouragement of his new producer, Paul Samwell-Smith, fostering a folk-rock direction. "Lady D'Arbanville" has a madrigal sound, and was written about Stevens' former girlfriend, Patti D'Arbanville, metaphorically laying her to rest.

"Lady D'Arbanville" was the first single released from Mona Bone Jakon, which took off in a completely different direction from the songs of his previous two albums. Although Stevens' debut album had charted, and while both albums he'd recorded had successful single releases in the British pop music charts, he chafed against the "Carnaby Street musical jangle" and "heavy-handed orchestration" that his producer, Mike Hurst (of Deram Records) favored. Just at the completion of his second album with Hurst, Stevens contracted tuberculosis and a collapsed lung, requiring hospitalization and rest for a year. During this time, he spent his empty hours writing over 40 songs, and upon a clean bill of health successfully negotiated out of his Deram contract, and settled on Island Records' Paul Samwell-Smith as his new producer, who encouraged Stevens' inclinations towards an emerging folk-rock genre.

As Stevens was nearing the end of his period of recuperation, he attended a party that boasted a gathering of musicians in London; including Jimmy Page, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, and others in attendance. Among the party-goers was Patti D'Arbanville, a US teenager who was pursuing a modeling career at the time; she later gained prominence as an actress. The two began dating over a period of more than a year. D'Arbanville stayed with him whenever she was in London but often found her career taking her to Paris and New York City. After over a year with her, Stevens was willing to invest more in a serious relationship than his young, ambitious girlfriend. It was on such a foray to New York that she heard his song about her on the airwaves. Her reaction was one of sadness. She said,

I just have to be by myself for a while to do what I want to do. It's good to be alone sometimes. Look, Steven [Stevens' given name] wrote that song when I left for New York. I left for a month, it wasn't the end of the world, was it? But he wrote this whole song about 'Lady D'Arbanville, why do you sleep so still.' It's about me dead. So while I was in New York, for him it was like I was lying in a coffin... he wrote that because he missed me because he was down... It's a sad song.
D'Arbanville continues,

I cried when I heard it because that's when I knew it was over for good.


While Stevens' previous singles featured orchestration, this was the first single to contain only acoustic guitars, bass, organ, percussion, and vocals. Newly hired Alun Davies initially brought in as a session guitarist, shared Stevens' love for the newly emerging folk-rock sound that Stevens chose to pursue. The two guitarists worked with John Ryan's syncopated basslines and drummer Harvey Burns' Latin rhythms were used to emphasize the beat of the song on the body of the guitar. Stevens said of it later, that "the name itself was intriguing", and that "it was one of the unique songs that stood out, even lyrically".The song had a unique arrangement, and melody as well. A backing vocal chorus in the style of Spaghetti Western classics added intrigue. The song had enough commercial appeal to reach No.8 on the British pop music chart and became the first Stevens' track to get noticeable airplay in the United States. "Lady D'Arbanville" was issued in June 1970 and became his third Top Ten hit in the United Kingdom, with the album Mona Bone Jakon, beginning a modest climb up the charts as well.

It is a beautiful sensational piece, once we reminisce.

The author's comments:

All of Cat Stevens' music has been a blessing for me. I hope it will be for you too.

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