Paul Bowles is one of my favourite authors ever  —  and The Sheltering Sky, his best known novel.


By 1990, when Bernardo Bertolucci turned it into a movie  starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich, I had already read Bowles’ entire oeuvre. And his wife’s Jane Bowles too.


When Diva came out, in 1992, upon a first listen, Primitive was the very first song that actually leapt out at me  ‘she wrote the perfect soundtrack for the movie’, I thought.


It’s almost like a musical version of the book’s themes and subject. And it’s beautiful. To top it off, there are Arabic sounds  —  singing, toward the end  —  in the song, and the novel is set in Morrocco.


From then on, the song and the book, to me, were inextricably linked. Just as Paul Bowles asks in his book ‘how many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, a certain afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can not even conceive of your life without it’, I can not think of the movie without humming the song. Or listen to the song without recollecting the novel. They are all a part of what  —  I think  —  I am.


And then there’s the video. Simplicity at its best, and with all the underlying messages  …  Running water, the river, going down the river on a boat, life  …  Pray to God our hopes to keep, and let it all go by.