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my girlish heart—so much so that even now when I hear it come on the Oldies station, my heart becomes fluttery and I get caught up in its wistful story about a pretty barmaid living in a port town who carries a torch for a certain sailor.
Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the north of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of a man that Brandy loved
He came on a summer’s day
Bringing gifts from far away
But he made it clear, he couldn’t stay
No harbor was his home*
I still love this song (and am not the only one: it’s been covered by
March 24, 2010:
In the summer of 1972, when I was on the cusp of turning ten, an American pop band called Looking Glass hit the top of the music charts with a song called “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).” It was a song that lodged itself deeply within
Stealing the Sailor from the Sea: Histoires de Parfums 1828
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artists on rather diverse ends of the musical spectrum, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Kenny Chesney). It really says something about a song’s magic when, some 38 years after you first heard it, it manages to hook you into suspending disbelief so easily. Or maybe it says something about the enduring foolishness of my romantic heart…the fact that whenever I hear “Brandy,” I imagine myself in her shoes, waiting for the kind of sailor that exists only in songs, poems, and other flights of fancy. He is a vagabond prince of a man, my sailor: he goes wherever he chooses and only docks in Portugal for the port (wine, that is.) He is not a sailor in a uniform, he is not a sailor with a commercial fishing boat, and neither is he some fancypants playboy with a yacht. His occupation, apart from that of “sailor,” is somewhat nebulous—maybe an importer-exporter of exotic goods?
When I was ten, it never occurred to me to peek too far beyond the edges of this song—and now at 47, I know not to go peeking there: a romantic heart like mine will not allow such fantasies to collapse like sea foam around her—no, not at any age. Though I like a good dose of reality and ‘reality TV’ as much as the next person, and have watched and enjoyed some of the thrillingly dangerous episodes of The Deadliest Catch, I prefer to think that somewhere there is a man guiding his boat through the high seas for the pure adventure of it, and when he comes into shore to dock at the harbor towns, he not only has tall, lanky, Scandinavian-blond good looks, but smells as fresh as a sea breeze. And if he does not smell that way naturally, then he of course has the good sense to bathe and splash on a fragrance like 1828 by Histoires de Parfums.
The fragrance notes in 1828 include:
Top notes of grapefruit, citrus, mandarin and eucalyptus;
Heart notes of pepper and nutmeg;
Base notes of cedar, incense, vetiver, and pine cone.
On initial application, this quiet marine scent achieves a fresh and breezy crispness by utilizing hesperidic notes that are not overly bright, piquant or bitter, but somehow achieve a more neutral Everclear quality that is refreshing (I think it’s the grapefruit) and lightly tinged by green. I can’t make out the eucalyptus that is listed in the notes, but I’m assuming that it accounts for this green edge to the scent in its early stages. Within a matter of minutes, 1828’s cool breeze is lightly warmed by nutmeg, as if a trade wind carrying the spice of India has crossed currents with it. It’s not heavy spice; every facet of this fragrance smells like something reaching the wearer’s nose from a great distance—really and truly as if it just came in on a draft of wind. What other smells are carried on that wind? Weathered cedar wood and pine needles that have a balsamic creaminess to them. A tender lick of vetiver reminding one that this sea breeze of a scent has made landfall. And, finally, a wispy tendril of incense which arrives in the far drydown like the tail end of a dream from some far-flung place that doesn’t seem quite real, yet from which you can’t wait to return.
All of which is to say, I have found my dream sailor—living in a ship in a bottle, more or less. Which is perfectly fine by me.
At night, when the bars close down
Brandy walks through a silent town
And loves a man who’s not around
She still can hear him say—she hears him say
“Brandy, you’re a fine girl
What a good wife you would be
But my life, my lover, my lady
Is the sea” *
Histoires de Parfums 1828 is available from BeautyCafe.com, $185 for a 120-ml bottle. My sample was sent to me by the Histoires de Parfums company in September 2008.
*Lyrics from "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)," copyright 1971 & 1972 by Evie Music, In. and Spruce Run Music
Bottle image is from Histoires de Parfums website.