‘Les Testaments Du Mon Sommeil’ Strikes Amazing Collaboration Between Diego Gary, Petter Stakee.

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Les Testaments Du Mon Sommeil (“Testament of My Sleep”) is a remarkably poignant collaboration, with music by Petter Stakee. lead singer-guitarist of the Anglo-Swedish band Alberta Cross, and words by the French poet and writer Diego Gary. It’s a powerfully haunting song cycle built on the real facts of Gary’s singular history. The son of the movie star Jean Seberg and French aviator-novelist-diplomat Romain Gary, his birth was kept secret as it violated his mother’s studio contract. Born in Barcelona, he was raised far from the eyes of Hollywood in Paris, where both parents ultimately committed suicide. His mother killed herself first, when he was only 17, and his father followed one year later. 

He’s lived most of his life in the city of his birth, Barcelona. He’s written both poetry and fiction, including his first novel, Sou l’espérance de vie, published in 2009, followed by Monsieur in 2015, and his most recent, Le Dompteur de mouches, published in 2017. 

This collaboration was triggered by Diego’s friend Luis Velasco, who suggested doing a tribute film to Jean Seberg. A fan of Petter and his band Alberta Cross, he felt him the ideal artist to turn Diego’s poetry and history into song. Their first song, a portrait of Diego’s mother, was “Lady Jean,” written for the film, and inspired them to write more, leading to this eleven-song collection. It is now available in the U.S. and around the globe. 


Living a painful ocean

Living an ocean in pain…

I am a painful ocean

I am an ocean in pain,

My love

Lady Jean

From “Lady Jean”
By Diego Gary and Petter Stakee

Asked about this record, Diego said, “It was an illusion, wishful thinking. I had been in a lethargic state for so long and was finally actualizing my vision. It was rewarding to finally bring out some of the song lyrics I had been working on over many years past and I enjoyed the process and the positive energy from Petter along the way.”

That positive energy was genuine, Petter recalled, as he found Diego’s work and story seriously compelling, and a fertile source for new songs. “When Luis Velasco approached me about the song for the film festival,” he said, “I was intrigued because it was totally uncharted territory for me as an artist, When I met Diego and learned more about him as a person, his history and work, I knew it was something I had to do.” 

“The process pushed both myself and Diego out of our comfort zones creatively, he continued, “and made this project as special as it is. One song turned into an album because we tapped into a mine of creativity that had to be explored. I’ve toured around the world for years and met some amazing people, but Diego Gary is truly the most captivating I’ve ever met.”

American Songwriter is happy to share the first single and video from the album, “Sous ce Lilas,” which means “Under the Lilacs.” An English translation follows. 

“Sous Ce Lilas (Beneath The Lilacs)”

I don’t know why,

I don’t understand

After all this time

I would have lived

Longer than you?

Longer than you?

The blue gauloises

The green gentians

And my sallow skin

Like a liquorice box,

It was acknowledged

It was arranged,

Agreed between us:

You would grow old,

Thinking of me,

Not too often,

But sometimes;

I would rest,

Beneath the lilac,

You know

This one.

Beneath this lilac

Beneath this lilac

The road is empty

But I can hear your footsteps.

It is like a storm

Where my heart beats,

Scarcely,

Hardly,

But it beats sometimes,

Just to think about you.

(It was acknowledged

It was arranged,

Agreed between us)

Beneath this lilac

Beneath this lilac

If my heart could think,

If my heart could know,

It would stop beating,

Beating up my soul,

Beating myself up.

Beating to the displeasure

Of my damned soul,

Damned evermore.

To have had the time,

To live for a long time,

Beating to the great despair

Of this living dead.

Blue gauloises

Green gentians

And this sallow skin

Like a liquorice box,

Standing up,

Standing up in front of you,

You who rest,

Beneath this lilac

Beneath this lilac

Beneath this lilac…

From “Sous Ce Lilas (Beneath The Lilacs)”

By Diego Gary & Petter Stakee 

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