“les fleur” – minnie riperton (1970)


Daydreaming is a great escape from the droll aspectds of life. There is absolute freedom in reaching the furthest corners of one’s imagination. It is where personal reflection and wild fantasies converge and create amazing feelings of comfort and wonder. There is an exhilarating thrill to daydreaming. It comes from that natural curiosity about what the future holds. Within the confines of the mind, we can craft our future while keeping the allure of surprise.

For me, daydreaming is about discovery. And even that in the broadest sense of the word. The discovery element can the discovery of a part of one’s self or the discovery by someone else. How many of us dream about our potential and the adoration of fans? In my mind’s eye, would I get the validation I seek if I became a famous rock star? It is perfectly natural to want to be perceived a certain way. So, if someone looks within you, what do you want them to see? What is the best part of you that is going to achieve reality of your dreams?

Minnie Riperton’s “Les Fleur” is a great tribute to the act of daydreaming. Consider the thoughts Riperton is sharing with the listener. Riperton is connecting with nature and imagining herself as a flower that is ready to bloom. While she waits to bloom and share her radiance, Riperton is contemplating the potential she has. Who will discover her soft, shimmery petals and validate her purpose in sharing beauty in this world? This is the question she is asking herself. Whether it be worn in someone’s hair or pinned to someone’s clothes as they tour a fair, how will the flower that is Riperton be put on display to the world and rightfully adored?

As the song progresses, Riperton declares she knows her role. She knows that she has an inherent beauty that needs to be shared with everyone. That is her sole purpose and the fact she has this self-confidence is so empowering. While I believe that I do not require anyone’s validation as to who I think I am, that is not the message in “Les Fleur.” There is no question in Riperton’s self-image and identity. She is here and you have to accept that. And if you don’t dig her style, then someone else will. Another person will pick that flower and show it off to the world spreading joy. Though the song is about a flower, it is a very human song that touches upon very human feelings. “Les Fleur” is a triumphant soul track that is powerful in its message; that we’re all beautiful on the inside and the only way to light up the sky and banish darkness is to share that inner beauty.

Despite the strong message of this tune, I find the music even more enriching. The orchestration is soft and mellow. In this garden Riperton is lyrically painting, the song starts slow like a barefoot walk through the grass. It is soft to the touch and easy like a sunny morning. Riperton’s voice lays over the arrangement and carries the listener through the song’s opening. But, the song isn’t entirely effortless in its delivery. There is a flower ready to bloom in this garden and is signified by the swelling of strings, horns, and backing vocals. As vocal registers rise, the chorus erupts with a golden harmony that heightens the experience. Like the sound of a thunderous gospel choir, this is the time to rejoice because this is when a new time is born and a flower blooms to spread love and joy.

“Les Fleur” is the opening track from Riperton’s first album. It is also an underrated track overshadowed by her quintessential high-note hit “Loving You.” It is a truly amazing song blending a rich soul orchestration, humanist themes, and one of the most talented voices in music. Riperton unfortunately passed away in 1979 after losing a battle with terminal breast cancer. In her short ten year career, Riperton truly embodied the spirit of this song. She did more with those ten years than many do in a lifetime. She had a beautiful gift backed by an even more amazing message, and she used them to spread joy and happiness. Her blooming as an artist, while short, was as bright as any garden.