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Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 12:35 am
Brel over Britain

My full-spectrum dominance of the UK press continues as I tell the New Statesman how the love affair between me and Jacques Brel began, and land a jabby scissor-kick on Blair's press secretary Alastair Campbell...



Read on...

By the way, if you were thinking of coming to see me, Marc Almond, Diamanda Galás and others singing Brel at The Barbican next Thursday, you're too late; I'm told it's sold out. There are seats left for the same show the following night at the Warwick Arts Centre, though.

28CommentReplyFlag

kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)

Is it just my imagination, or does the New Statesman's web layout look an awful lot like the Guardian/Observer's?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)

The New Statesman rams everything hard left on the page, eradicating the margins, which is rather disconcerting. Or is it just my browser?


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 11:46 pm (UTC)
MSP > LHR

One only wishes the New Statesman would be able to ram things just a bit further Left, fnarr.

BTW is there a plan shaping up for yr visit? xx


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
Re: MSP > LHR

If there's one there's a hundred!


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)

tao


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 07:37 am (UTC)

>you're too late; I'm told it's sold out.

Please 'Anon & 1' to the guest-list...it's the least you could do for your anon readers.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 08:09 am (UTC)

Ha ha, and arrive to find a huge crowd of semi-transparent people thumping each other at the door, shouting in semi-transparent voices: "I'm the real Anon!" "No, I am!"

The guest list is completely full too, but semi-transparent Anons should be able to float in through the walls like ghosts and sit on the lighting gantries, throwing semi-transparent peanuts at the stage.


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dogsolitude_v2
dogsolitude_v2
dogsolitude_v2
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 08:16 am (UTC)

"By the way, if you were thinking of coming to see me, Marc Almond, Diamanda Galás and others singing Brel at The Barbican next Thursday, you're too late; I'm told it's sold out."

Shit, I'd've loved to have gone to that... Warwick's miles away... Hmmm... :/

I really fancy Diamanda Galas too. Don't really think I'd be her type though.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 09:39 am (UTC)
jacky OTT

what do you think of marc almond particular mix of brel and gay disco drama torch song?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 10:15 am (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

Well, as I say in the article, one view could be that it's "too gay", but another would be to say that the whole point of cover versions is to take the original material somewhere new, not just musically but also semantically and contextually.

I actually find Brel's worldview a little too homosocial -- in the sense that he's a "man's man" living in a rather macho man's world, an adventurer given to male bonding and sparring -- and rather too little homosexual. So I'm pleased that Marc Almond has taken the material in this other direction.

Almond and I don't just share an appreciation of Brel, by the way, we're also both artists who've chosen to be photographed by Pierre et Gilles. Can you imagine Jacques Brel -- had he lived into the 80s and 90s -- doing that? Gainsbourg, yes -- his second-last album saw him (in a William Klein photo) made up as an old travelo. Brel? Never.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

On his last couple of albums Gainsbourg really got into gay scenarios. Kiss Me Hardy is a gay reading of the Battle of Trafalgar, and his cover of Piaf's Mon Legionnaire (which recounts a sexual encounter with a soldier) transforms the original into something super-camp:



Gainsbourg said in interviews he'd had gay experiences "in order not to remain an idiot". Brel, I think, would have been much more likely to imply that having a gay experience was itself a form of idiocy.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 10:31 am (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

On his last couple of albums Gainsbourg really got into gay scenarios. Kiss Me Hardy is a gay reading of the Battle of Trafalgar, and his cover of Piaf's Mon Legionnaire (which recounts a sexual encounter with a soldier) transforms the original into something super-camp:



Gainsbourg said in interviews he'd had gay experiences "in order not to remain an idiot". Brel, I think, would have been much more likely to imply that having a gay experience was itself a form of idiocy.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 10:35 am (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

And yet isn't it striking that the people who have been attracted enough to Brel to cover him all seem to be a bit on the effete side. Almond, Bowie, Scott Walker, your good self... perhaps the melodrama of chanson becomes a bit queeny when translated into an Anglo-Saxon context.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 10:42 am (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

Yes, I think that's partly it. Crossing the channel could almost be a euphemism for changing gender. Even making a cover version is a bit like dressing up as someone else. You're obviously throwing a whole lexicon of signifiers of authenticity out the window at that point, and replacing them with play-acting. I think that also applies to younger people doing older people's songs: I was young when I sang See A Friend In Tears, and couldn't possibly have known the disillusionment Brel poured into it. In fact, I still don't know those levels of disillusionment, at the jaded age of 49! Either I've led a sheltered life, or Brel was camping up the misery a bit for dramatic effect. Could be a bit of both...


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 10:44 am (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

...But, you know, he was dying of cancer when he wrote that. I think at that point you really have earned the right to a pretty vast despair.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 10:57 am (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

Crossing the channel could almost be a euphemism for changing gender.

The Latin conception of masculinity is really quite different. The male tends to be more of a peacock. (You can't imagine bullfighting outfits ever originating in a protestant society, can you?) But since ostentation and emotion are female signifiers in protestant societies, Latin masculinity becomes somehow intermeshed with gay culture when it crosses the channel. The French are eternally effeminate compared with good plain John Bull and his roast beef.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 11:00 am (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 12:15 pm (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

"The French are eternally effeminate"

The macho elements of Brel are pretty convincing (the harbours and bars of Benelux can be rough as old boots). We’re always told that maleness is a kind of orthodoxy and camp is some sort of counterbalance or alternative, but I think that proper macho is rare in popular culture. Even in hip hop - what sort real man goes poncing around preening and crooning (and bragging)?


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

what sort real man goes poncing around preening and crooning (and bragging)?

You miss the point - there clearly are lots of cultures where this kind of behaviour is exactly what the "real men" do. And ironically, in these kinds of cultures the men actually tend to be a lot more macho than in cultures where men are supposed to be less ostentatious and more "authentic".


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
i wish i was deep insteed o just macho

l


ReplyThread Parent
viceanglais
viceanglais
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
Re: jacky OTT

Stick to ad-funded images of a baby falling under a train, (today's death is sponsored by Eurostar!). Doesn't the digital world fill you with pride?


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)

No mention of Marc Almond on the Warwick Arts Centre website - are you sure he'll be there too?

Also see the Proclaimers are playing in Warwick the day after, might be worth the trip...


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC)

Noted convergence toward limit of c-opera and k-punk-hatherley nexus

Link as you would be linked to; the apparent rule.

Some Brecht discussion on R3 (Die Dreigroschenoper)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00n6vdt

Wonder who/ how to successfully revive this?

The panelists are, perhaps rightly, skeptical...


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pay_option07
pay_option07
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)

Definitely a man and passionate voice of the people.
That's a lot to live up too, Nic!


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xchimx
xchimx
john fisch
Sat, Oct. 17th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)

You should perform ces gens la, record it, and put it on youtube so we can all enjoy it.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
'Nicky'

Scrappy, insipid and narcissistic? 'Nicky'? I don't know if we're talking about the same EP? Your version of Ne Me Quitte Pas is, for me, the definitive English translation and I've been singing it live since I bought the EP. 'Nicky' may be narcissistic in that it's about you and has lots of name-dropping, but it's entertaining and musically fun, and because it adapted the original so freely, it stimulated me to create my own version, 90% yours, but a bit more accessible (nobody I played to had heard of Jean-Luc Godard or Vic for that matter!), for which I always meant to write to you to get your permission to record. It's one of the most well-received things I do live and has let me introduce people from time to time to Momus. As for 'See A Friend In Tears' I hadn't heard that one before your version and, visiting the original, I thought you'd captured the sting masterfully. That line 'we thought love could cure a toothache' - that's yours isn't it? As well as rescuing Brel from Mort, that EP was my introduction to Momus, and I have to leap to its defence! Norman Lamont (no relation). PS I can't get to the gigs but hope they go well.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
Re: 'Nicky'

Hello Norman, thanks for that!

You don't need my permission to record a cover of a Brel song, you know! Just a credit on the record is fine.

Basically I was slagging everyone else off, so I had to slag myself off as a matter of form! I think "Nicky" qualifies as those adjectives I lined up, but I'm rather proud of the others.

The line "we thought love could cure a toothache" is sort of mine: Brel sings "and our loves who have toothache". I took the idea a bit further.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 08:13 am (UTC)
Re: 'Nicky'

Thinking about it, there's one line in Ne Me Quitte that I changed in my version. I found the first few times I sang it that people were enthralled until I got to the line about 'I'll get under the bed and watch you from there' which got sniggers (it was Glasgow!) and kind of spoilt the mood. After a few outings I changed it to 'I'll go to the corner and watch you from there' which is less challenging but kept some of the sad desperation. Hah! I feel like I'm Rod McKuen to your Brel. Ulp! What do you think?

Norman


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