Joan of Arc doesn’t have a known birthday. But, for some reason, French people celebrate it on January 6th. Supposedly, it was because a French courtier by the name of Perceval de Boulainvilliers (such a courtier’s name) mentioned this as her date of birth on a whim in a letter to an Italian duke. The saint/martyr/crossdressing junkie herself didn’t even know how old she was, estimating that she was about nineteen when she faced her persecutors at the Trial of Condemnation.
Regardless of her true birthday, the following songs are beautiful tributes to a girl who may or may not have been crazy, but was, nonetheless a freedom-fighting, English-hating patriot–which is what French people are all about.
Giuseppe Verdi-Giovanna d’Arco, 1845: You know when Verdi’s composing an opera about you, you’re kind of a big deal.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky-The Maid of Orleans, 1878: With just the amount of intensity and buildup you would expect from Tchaikovsky, The Maid of Orleans is a fitting tribute to her whirlwind, bloodshed-filled existence.
Leonard Cohen-“Joan of Arc,” 1970: “Such a cold and lonesome heroine” is just one of the many evocative lines that Cohen croons in this soulful slow jam that’s right up there with “Chelsea Hotel No. 2.”
OMD-“Joan of Arc,” 1981: Filled with sadness, lead singer Andy McCluskey laments Joan of Arc falling in love, waxing on about how she should have known better. Perhaps this love is for Catholicism?
OMD-“Maid of Orleans (The Waltz of Joan of Arc),” 1982: This being the better of the two, OMD might have easily become a Joan of Arc tribute band had things gone in another direction.
The Smiths-“Bigmouth Strikes Again,” 1986: Only Morrissey could capture the indignity of being burned at the stake by also incorporating the mention of a Walkman.
The Melvins-“Joan of Arc,” 1993: Possessing the same ominousness you would expect at a stake burning, The Melvins get you into the mindset of an angst-ridden Joan of Arc just as the flames engulf her.
Kate Bush-“Joanni,” 2005: It’s Kate Bush singing about Joan of Arc. If that’s not feminism at its finest, I don’t know what is.
Arcade Fire-“Joan of Arc,” 2013: Even though this is the most current in an endless string of songs called “Joan of Arc,” it might be the best out of all of them (save for “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” because nothing can really top that).