Ghost image in my mind

Offbeat indie singer Charlotte Gainsbourg released a 2009 song about being fMRI brain scanned that even incoporated sounds from an actual scanner.

The track is called IRM, presumably because Gainsbourg is a French speaker and ‘magnetic resonance imaging’ in French is imagerie par résonance magnétique – which, by the way, is also the sound of a mysterious Parisian stranger whispering sweet nothings in your ear.

If you’re not familiar with what an MRI machine sounds like, listen out for the ‘buzz plus alien tractor beam’ sound in the song.

There is also what looks like an interesting error in the song. At one point she sings “Analyse EKG, Can you see a memory?”

As EKG usually refers to an electrocardigram – a measure of heart function – it’s unlikely she’ll see many memories there.

An EEG, on the other hand, measures electrical activity from the brain, and was probably what was intended.

Here’s the wonderfully poetic neuroscience lyrics in full:

Take a picture what’s inside
Ghost watching my mind
Neural pattern like a spider
Capillary to the centre

Hold still and press a button
Looking through a glass onion
Following the X-Ray eye
From the cortex to medulla

Analyse E K G
Can you see a memory
Register all my fears
On a flowchart disappear

Leave my head demagnetised
Tell me where the trauma lies
In the scan of pathogen
Or the shadow of my sin

The track is great by the way. MRI never sounded so hip.

Link to Charlotte Gainsbourg track IRM.

4 thoughts on “Ghost image in my mind”

  1. Hmm. I believe that maybe she writing along the lines of EKG (having to do with her heart) and its function and that type of memory? Poetic licence?

  2. A.) Andrew Bird’s a pretty great indie artist with a song, “Dark Matter” about Cyberknife-type stereotactic neuro-radiosurgery. A sample lyric with really elegantly realized Neoplasm/Gallows metaphor:

    “The noose is loosed around our necks made of DNA
    And everyday it’s growing tighter, no matter what you do or say
    But you can shoot right through with rays of dark matter
    Right before they kick out, they kick out the ladder”

    He also wonders where the self resides…

    B.) Charlotte Gainsbourg is very decisively NOT indie. Even as nebulous a label as ‘indie’ is, Gainsbourg was corporate royalty before she hit puberty.

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