••• Vivid memories of our arrival in Cotonou, Dahomey, that morning of December 62. Plus

••• My father practiced general surgery in Cotonou, Abomey and Porto-Novo, while my mother worked as as a pediatrician in Cotonou; soon they were heading their relevant department. 1963: after a brief stay at Ecole Montaigne, during which my youngest brother Karim was born, I was to attend primary school at Ecole Publique Charles Guillot, and then secondary school at Collège Père Aupiais Photo.

••• We were exposed to an extreme variety of musical genres, mainly through the radio. Programs of traditional pop songs could easily be followed by french yé-yé (and 'jerk' later), or congolese rumba, or american RnB, or afro-cuban 'son' and cha-cha. Plus

••• Around 69, my father brought back (from one of his numerous travels as Minister Of Foreign Office) unique marvels like The Jackson-5 'ABC' and James Brown 'Sex Machine' albums. Yet, he would still have Haendel 'Water Music' on the turntable, whenever his political activities could let him have a listen to.

••• Strangely enough, and although I was into music just as much as any other teen around, I never dreamt of being a part of it . Although I could show some degree of expertise on the mandoline, the flute, the Hohner Melodica, or a marvellous Aiwa mini reel-to-reel tape recorder that my father gave me (just like the one used in Mission Impossible, cassette tape recorders didn't exist yet), my head, my dreams, the whole of my soul was into ... aviation. Plus

••• Among our neighbours, german couple Brigitte & Günter Stromburg became very close friends to us. Both musically trained and private pilots (a dream combo), they were very attentive to my burgeoning musical skills, and urged my parents to let me take piano lessons. They'd listen to Getz and Gilberto's records all day long, and this would be my first encountering with bossa-nova.

••• They'd have an amateur jazz-band play in their lounge on the week-end, and their piano was the first piano I could let my fingers run unto; and around the piano were the first vibraphone, banjo and trumpet I could ever approach. Musical instruments, sitting in silence, have always been a fascinating presence to me, even today. But my only real desire at the time was to get on board the aeroclub Cessna 172 or the Piper Club with them, at least once, but due to my young age, well ...

••• Well I could still find solace in fiddling around the aeroclub, or the national airbase, which DC-3s, Broussard, Aero-Commander and Cessna Skymaster relentlessly filled all my dreams, my week-ends, my holidays. May 68, Biafra and Vietnam were at their peak. And as I was watching the stars at night, I could hear comming out of the radio the Beatles' Sgt Pepper, the Stones and, Jimi Hendrix haunting version of Dylan's 'All along the watchtower', like a perfect soundtrack to my space dreams.

••• We were to stay in Cotonou till 1971, when my parents decided to have us all move back to Paris, as my mother's health needed close look up. Plus

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Sun, Jan 3, 2010

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