Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life)

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"Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life)"
Single by T.S. Monk
from the album House of Music
B-side "Stay Free of His Love"
Released 1980
Format 7", 12"
Genre Post-disco, funk
Length 3:35
Label Mirage
Writer(s) Lawrence Russell Brown, Sandy Linzer
Producer(s) Sandy Linzer
T.S. Monk chronology
"Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life)"
(1980)
"Candidate for Love"
(1980)

"Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life)" is a single by American band T.S. Monk, released in 1980 on Mirage Records. It was arranged by band leader Thelonious Monk, Jr. and written by songwriter Lawrence Russell Brown and producer Sandy Linzer. The song has a rhythmic style and lyrics about aspiring to a rich lifestyle.

The song was released in promotion of the band's 1980 debut album House of Music.[1] It was T.S. Monk's best-selling song and only charting single on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 63. "Bon Bon Vie", particularly its horn intro, has been sampled by several hip hop artists.

Composition[edit]

30-second sample of the song

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"Bon Bon Vie" is a midtempo post-disco/funk with a brassy beat.[2][3][4] T.S. Monk's bandleader Thelonious Monk, Jr., served as arranger, drummer, and lead vocalist for the song.[4] It was co-written by Sandy Linzer, who produced its album House of Music.[3] The song's lyrics are about aspiring to a rich lifestyle.[1] Its chorus chants, "Give us the bon / give us the bon bon bon bon vie / give us the good life."[5]

The song opens with a notable horn intro.[6] The song's rough rhythmic style counterpoints its smooth harmonies.[2] It also features lighthearted vocals, haunting scat riffs, and a backbeat constituted by brass, bongo, and hand-clapping.[2]

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Bon Bon Vie" charted at number 63 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on March 28, 1981.[7] It also reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart.[8] On the Hot Dance/Disco Songs, "Bon Bon Vie" peaked at number 13.[9] The single was T.S. Monk's only entry on both the pop and dance charts,[8] as well as their best-selling song.[10]

In the United Kingdom, it reached number 63 and spent two weeks on the UK Singles Chart.[11] The single also charted at number 21 in the Netherlands.[12]

Critical response[edit]

In reviewing House of Music, Irv Cohn of Stereo Review called "Bon Bon Vie" an "interesting" song and stated, "real musicians are at work in dance music in the post-disco era."[4] The Black Music & Jazz Review commented that they were not "overly impressed by the album, they enjoyed the single and its B-side "a lot", as well as T.S. Monk's subsequent single "Candidate for Love".[13] Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote that Sandy Linzer "has found for T.S. Monk a flexible, melodic style that is halfway between chic's disco and Dr. Buzzard's swing."[3]

Although he found Monk's album "spotty", Robert Christgau of The Village Voice praised "Bon Bon Vie" as "a rich song about aspiring to the rich life" and wrote in a 1981 review, "I love not only the subtle Sandy Linzer lyric but also Thelonious Monk Jr.'s rough, high-humored vocal and incisive drumming, and its arrangement keeps giving up new pleasures."[1] He also noted its musical aesthetic, calling it "ebullient on top and this far from desperation underneath".[14] Christgau later named it the second-best song of the 1980s in a list for The Village Voice.[15]

Legacy[edit]

According to Thelonious Monk biographist Robin D. G. Kelley, with the song's success, band members Thelonious Jr. and Boo Boo Monk "had finally fulfilled their father's elusive dream—to get a 'hit'".[16]

"Bon Bon Vie" was sampled by rapper Jaz-O for his 1989 song "Pumpin'", featuring Jay-Z.[17] The song's horn intro was sampled by hip hop group Public Enemy for the song "Welcome to the Terrordome" from their album Fear of a Black Planet.[17] The horn intro was also sampled by Above the Law on their 1993 song "G's & Macoronies",[18] by R&B group Blackstreet on their 1994 song "Good Life", and by rapper Raekwon on his 2009 song "Stick Up Music".[17] "Bon Bon Vie" was remixed by Paul Simpson in 2010.[19]

Track listing[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from House of Music liner notes.[27]

  • Cliff Anderson – horns
  • Russell Blake – bass
  • Lawrence Russell Brown – composer
  • Floyd Fisher – keyboards, synthesiser
  • Yvonne Fletcher – vocals
  • Sandy Linzer – composer, producer
  • Boo Boo Monk – vocals
  • Thelonious Monk, Jr. – arrangements, drums, horns, vocals
  • Jeff Sigman – guitar
  • Ronnie Taylor – horns
  • Courtney Wynter – horns
  • Victor See Yuen – percussion

Charts[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
position
Netherlands (Nationale Hitparade)[12] 21
UK Singles (BMRB)[11] 63
US Billboard Hot 100[7] 63
US Hot Dance/Disco Songs (Billboard)[9] 11
US Hot Soul Singles (Billboard)[8] 11

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (March 30, 1981). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Lederer, Barry (December 13, 1980). "Disco Mix". Billboard 92 (50): 55. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Holden, Stephen (April 9, 1981). "POP - T.S. MONK IN SHOWCASE LED BY THELONIUS MONK JR.". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Cohn, Irv (1981). "T.S. Monk "House of Music"". Stereo Review (Ziff Davis) 46: 116. 
  5. ^ Bradway, Becky (2003). In the Middle of the Middle West: Literary Nonfiction from the Heartland. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253343755. 
  6. ^ "FAT COLLECTION OF GREAT HITS FROM THE '70S HITS RIGHT TRACK". Deseret News (Salt Lake City). January 26, 1995. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "T.S. Monk Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 410. ISBN 0898201608. 
  9. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 180. ISBN 089820156X. 
  10. ^ Pollack, Bruce; Shapiro, Nat (1986). Popular Music: 1980-1984. Adrian Press. ISBN 0810308487. 
  11. ^ a b "TS MONK". Official Charts Company. Singles. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "T.S. Monk - Bon bon vie (Gimme The Good Life)". Hung Medien / hitparade.ch. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ "TS MONK: Candidate For Love/The Last Of The Wicked Romancers (Mirage K11648)". Black Music & Jazz Review 4: 43. 1981. 
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (1980). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 2, 1990). "Decade Personal Best: '80s". The Village Voice. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  16. ^ Kelley, Robin D. G.. Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 446. ISBN 0684831902. 
  17. ^ a b c "T.S. Monk Music Sampled by Others". WhoSampled. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  18. ^ "The Vault: Above The Law’s Parliamentary Procedure". Idolator. Buzz Media. February 2, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Soul & Funk Collection, Vol.2: Various Artists: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  20. ^ Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life) (7" single sleeve). T.S. Monk. United States: Mirage Records. 1980. WTG 3780. 
  21. ^ Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life) (12" single sleeve). T.S. Monk. United States: Mirage Records. 1980. DMD 252. 
  22. ^ Bon Bon Vie / Stay Free of His Love (12" single sleeve). T.S. Monk. United Kingdom: Mirage Records. 1980. K 11653. 
  23. ^ Bon Bon Vie / Stay Free of His Love (7" single sleeve). T.S. Monk. France: Mirage Records. 1980. 11653. 
  24. ^ Bon Bon Vie (7" single sleeve). T.S. Monk. Italy: Mirage Records. 1981. W 11653. 
  25. ^ Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life) (7" single sleeve). T.S. Monk. Netherlands: Mirage Records. 1980. ATL 11.653. 
  26. ^ Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life) (12" maxi-single sleeve). T.S. Monk. Netherlands: Mirage Records. 1980. ATL 20.247. 
  27. ^ House of Music (CD liner). T.S. Monk. United Kingdom: Funky Town Grooves. 2010. FTG-218. 

External links[edit]