The Windmills of Your Mind

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This article is about the song. For the album by Paul Motian, see The Windmills of Your Mind (album). For the album by Bud Shank, see Windmills of Your Mind (album).

"The Windmills of Your Mind" is a song with music by French composer Michel Legrand and English lyrics written by Americans Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman. The French lyrics, under the title "Les moulins de mon cœur", were written by Eddy Marnay. The song (with the English lyrics) was introduced in the 1968 film, The Thomas Crown Affair.[1]

In the original 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair, the song is heard - sung by Noel Harrison - during a scene in which the character Thomas Crown flies a glider at the glider airport in Salem NH: having edited the rough cut for this scene utilizing the Beatles track "Strawberry Fields Forever" producer/ director Norman Jewison commissioned an original song be written for the glider scene which would reference the ambivalent feelings of Thomas Crown as he engages in a favorite past-time while experiencing the tension of preparing to commit a major robbery. Alan Bergman: "Michel [Legrand] played us [ie. Alan and Marilyn Bergman] seven or eight melodies. We listened to all of them and decided to wait until the next day to choose one. We three decided on the same one, a long baroque melody...The lyric we wrote was stream-of-consciousness. We felt that the song had to be a mind trip of some kind" - "The [eventual] title was [originally] a line at the end of a section...When we finished we said: "What do we call this? It's got to have a title. That line is kind of interesting.' So we restructured the song so that the line appeared again at the end. It came out of the body of the song. I think we were thinking, you know when you try to fall asleep at night and you can't turn your brain off and thoughts and memories tumble." [2]

Noel Harrison recorded the song after Andy Williams passed on it: Harrison took issue with the couplet "Like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own/ Down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone", singing the word "shone" British-style with a short vowel sound making the rhyme with "own" imperfect. Marilyn Bergman: "We said 'No, it's shone [long vowel sound].' And he said 'No, it's our language!' And we said: 'Yes, but it's our song.' So reluctantly, he sang shone [long vowel sound] and our rhyme was intact." [2]

As recorded by Noel Harrison, "Windmills of Your Mind" reached no. 8 in the UK Singles Chart. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968, [1] "Windmills of Your Mind" was in 2004 ranked at no. 57 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. A remake by Sting was utilized in the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair.

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered by some orchestras and a large number of singers, in English and in other languages. Dusty Springfield's version of the song from her album Dusty in Memphis is well known; this version reached no. 31 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and no. 3 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart in 1969.[3]


  1. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 135. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ a b "Marrying The Image: Alan and Marilyn Bergman". Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), p. 592.