Salim Halali, “Andalusia” (1940s?); Noureddine Lakhmari’s Casanegra (2009)

Name: Salim Halali, né Simon Halali (1920-2005)
Origin: Jewish-Algerian
Connection to previous post: Halali owned two cabarets in Paris in the 1940s and 50s (Ismaïalia Folies and Le Sérail [The Harem], I believe?) and Brel, Ferré, and Brassens all started out as cabaret singers. Bam.

I’ve been thinking about Morocco lately and the ethics of whose voices we choose to translate and the voiced that remain untranslated and thus unheard. Salim Halali wasn’t Moroccan, but he sang Moroccan songs and lived in Morocco for a number of years. I was introduced to him through the movie Free Men (Les Hommes Libres, 2011), directed by Ismael Ferroukhi, a Moroccan filmmaker. The movie takes places during Nazi-era Paris and generally tells the story of the real-life cooperation between the Jews and Muslims during this time. (Jewish and Muslim cooperation stories in France are my favorite kind of interfaith stories.) The protagonist is a young Muslim named Younes (played by my secret boyfriend Tahar Rahim) who is forced by the Nazis to spy on the mosque in Paris. The imam there is rumored to be providing forged documents to Jews and the Nazis are not very happy about it but can’t prove anything. During his spying, Younes meets a local singer named Salim, who is secretly-not-so-secretly a Jew hiding in plain sight. Of course they become total BFFs. Through his friendship with Salim, Younes figuratively is welcomed back into the Arab community from which he was estranged. One of the more beautiful moments of the movie is when Younes is at a café watching Salim perform Moroccan songs and has something of a spiritual moment. The song that Salim performs is called “Andalusia.”

YouTube: Andaloussia

I loved an Andalusian girl–
Young and beautiful, with brown hair

Such a beauty!
With her bewitching eyes and arched brows
Her face cast a spell on you,
Leaving you sighing, smiling

A soul sacrifices itself
Just for her beauty, charm and body,
And a heart sets itself ablaze,
Oh my lover does not want me

Her black eyes transfix you
And her long hair billowing
I don’t know anyone who looks like her
Praise be to God who made her

So here’s my trouble. Morocco needs a little love on the translation front. And I’d love to do my part bringing international attention to Moroccan artists, especially since interesting things are going on there on the cinema front. While French is still the language of education in Morocco, there is a large push to make the local colloquial Arabic dialect THE language of the people. So movies are made in dialect, TV shows, songs, etc. Even though Morocco is considered a Francophone country, my French does not help translate the kinds of cultural artifacts that they are producing. The best I can do, which is what I did with Halali’s song, is to translate the French translations of the Moroccan Arabic. My Arabic studies, like most shitty Arabic language programs, were in Standard Arabic, which is the language of books and TV news presenters. It’s not the language of the home or the streets. It’s not the language of the average person. I’m twice incapable of translating Moroccan culture. If all I can do is translate a translation, should I even bother to try? Is translating the subtitles on a movie trailer any better that not translating at all?

This topic of Moroccan cinema comes up because I’ve been taking part in a professional development seminar on how to incorporate Morocco and Turkey into the K-12 curriculum. Two of the speakers were Moroccan (an Arabic professor at CSU, and a media studies professor from CU), and they talked quite a bit about the new wave of cinema in that country, and how it’s finally beginning to address the real, lived lives of Moroccans, but no one in the world really knows about it because no one is translating it. Not a lot of people speak Moroccan Arabic. There are 30 million people in the country, and that’s pretty much the only place it’s spoken. The professors also mentioned that there are very few legal means for purchasing the films. Most people buy illegal copies. There are always the French translations, which are perhaps slightly more accessible, but you can’t show movies with French subtitles in your K-12 class, you know? So I guess I was trying to figure out what I personally could do on this front. I was thinking maybe I could translate trailers for the films. But then I’d have to rip them off YouTube, which hardly seems ethical. The question is, I guess, is it more unethical to NOT translate a voice that deserves to be heard, or to translate a voice in a way that violates copyright law?

For fun, here’s the trailer for the 2009 film Casanegra: YouTube. The text in the description reads:

In the Casablanca of today, chaotic but beautiful, cruel but seductive, two childhood friends, Adil and Karim, make their living as low-level cons and swindlers. Karim employs children to sell cigarettes on the street, but dreams of success and respect. Adil has found the miraculous solution to all his problems: buy a visa and a work contract to emigrate to Malmo, Sweden. Adil dreams of Sweden via a post card.

They have nothing, aside from their desire to live another life. Adil, ready to do anything to achieve his dreams of escape to a place he imagines as more luxurious, more forgiving, and more civilized. Karim, more lucid and responsible, just wants to take care of his family, and falls secretly in love with a beautiful middle-class girl.

A local mafioso tracks them down to enlist them in a major heist, which will allow them to fulfill their dreams. Everything that unites them will be brought into question.
Casanegra is then the stage of their dilemmas and defiances: love or friendship? adventure or reason? hope or stagnation?

A love story of two young protagonists and their city, a city which does not love them back, Casanegra is an ode to friendship, and to the hope of a city and a generation.

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Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, Roundtable Part 1 (1969)

Brel Brassens and Ferré

So I’ve been thinking about the relationship between poetry and music in the French tradition, so I thought I’d translate the first part of the roundtable discussion Brassens, Brel and Ferré had in 1969 for a radio show (I believe), in which they touch on some of this issues. I got the transcript of the roundtable from the website Snoopairz, where you can also see more great pictures from the session. I’ve read that these three sort of represent a holy trinity of singer-songwriters in France at this time. Even though I have never been a fan of Ferré’s for whatever reason (too elitist? too misogynistic? who knows?), Brel and Brassens are perfectly interesting people. I sort of long for the days when artists had genuine, thoughtful things to say about art and life, instead of these weird, shallow interviews you see all too often in magazines and on-line. Maybe because France has a more prominent history of encouraging philosophical discourse in public? I don’t know, I don’t want to cast aspersions. But anyway. This isn’t a perfect translation by any means. Given the amount of writing I’m require to put on this blog each week for class, I’m sort of just going with my gut and posting what is essentially the first drafts of these translations. I’ve provided notes where I think what they’re saying needs a little clarification.


– Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré: are you all aware of the fact that you are the three biggest singer-songwriters in French music, and have been for years with consistent success? 

FERRÉ: I’m aware first and foremost of being with two brothers-in-arms, who have immense talent, yes, but first and foremost I’m with two friends. I’ve wanted that for a long time. Today, people never stop saying: “What is music for you?…” What’s an off-ramp– who cares? The important thing, I believe, is that it’s a small bit of love that one can give or receive, with a microphone, for example. Now, since we’ve been making music for twenty years, we’ve been working hard, we’ve been, as I say where I’m from [Ed: Monaco], zugumed for a long time at work, now, we can sing quietly in a place without having the cops come, or people who just come to whistle at us, that’s our just reward. You do what you can, you say what you want, and there’s no need to break your back for all that.

All three of you are in the celebrated collection “Poets of Today” …

BRASSENS: We’re not the only ones [in the collection]. And besides, it doesn’t really mean anything, the way people label–

– You don’t consider yourself a poet, then?

BRASSENS: Not really. I don’t know if I’m a poet. I guess I might be a little, but I don’t care. I put words and music together and then I sing them.

I believe Jacques Brel doesn’t think of himself as a poet either?

BREL: I’m a “song-maker,” that’s the right word! I’m a little musical artisan.
FERRÉ: People who say they’re poets– these are the people who aren’t really poets, deep down. The people who are honored to be considered poets– these are the Sunday poets, who have little self-published booklets… That said, if someone tells me I’m a poet, that’s what I want. But it’s like if someone said to me that I’m a cobbler who makes beautiful shoes. I share the same point of view as Brel.

According to you, is music an art? Is it a major art or a minor art?

[Ed: The French traditionally divide the disciplines of art into a hierarchy: so-called “major” arts include painting, sculpture, architecture, etc., and “minor” arts include ceramics, furniture, or other decorative objects. Serge Gainsbourg and Guy Béart had a famous argument on TV over this issue in the 80s, with Gainsbourg insisting music was a “minor” art because it required no formal training or apprenticeship. He famously told Béart to “shut [his] trap” when Béart disagreed.]

FERRÉ: Brassens said something true: “I put words and music together.” That’s what I do.
BRASSENS: Well, yes, it’s completely different from what we colloquially call “poetry,” which is written to be read or spoken. Music is very different. Even if people like Ferré have succeeded in setting poets to music, like Baudelaire, it’s difficult to use music like the poets who came before used the verb. When you write for the ear, you’re obliged to use a slightly different vocabulary, words that catch your ear… Even though now we have the record, and the listener can listen to it again…
BREL: Yes, but the record is a by-product of music, let’s not kid ourselves… Songs were meant to be sung, not to be distributed as a record…
FERRÉ: I agree perfectly with him. It’s as if you were making delicious chocolates, extraordinary chocolates, not for sale, that you keep at home. But the moment you put them in a bag, or you sell them, you don’t care about them anymore. If I make delicious chocolates, and someone else eats them, it doesn’t matter to me. The bag is the record. The record is the death of music, in a way.
BRASSENS: In the old days, you sang. When a guy performed a song, the people would pass by and learn it and sing it themselves. They participated, they had books of musical scores… Today, the public has become more passive.
FERRÉ: Some people hear the music first, others the lyrics. The most intelligent people will hear the lyrics first. The most sensitive people– and possibly the least intelligent– hear the music first. This means that I can introduce Baudelaire to people who had no idea who he was.
BREL: In the past, when a guy wrote a song, others would reproduce it–like Georges was saying– but now we reproduce it ourselves. It created a chain, before… I mean before the microgroove. In fact, the greatest musical inventor was the English engineer who discovered the principle of the microgroove, during the war. [???]
FERRÉ: That’s it. You were just saying we were poets, or artisans, all that… We’re not. You know what all three of us are?
BRASSENS: A trio of morons with mikes in front of them!
FERRÉ: No, we’re singers. Because if we didn’t have a voice, we couldn’t produce our work. Because if I didn’t have a voice, or you Georges, or you Jacques, you wouldn’t write and I wouldn’t either.
BRASSENS: That’s very kind of you to say. Because when it comes to that side of things [i.e. singing], I’m not really into it, you know! [Ed: Brassens suffered from terrible stage fright. Brel did too, in fact, claiming in an interview that he vomited every time before he sang.]
FERRÉ: But you do have a voice. You sing. Jacques does, too. If he didn’t have a voice, who would sing Brel’s songs? Everything he’s composed, he never would have done it. He wrote his songs because he “published” them with his voice. I did too…
BRASSENS: Yes, he definitely would have written different things…
BREL: All that to say that you might be a singer… just because you have a voice.

Have you ever done anything besides writing, composing, and singing, and has this helped you in your work as a singer?

FERRÉ: At the same time, we can’t do anything else. Now what we’ve done before, we all went to school, studied, had jobs, etc.
BRASSENS: We lived, you know. But really, we’ve always written songs.
FERRÉ: We had to make ends meet, sometimes. When Brel came to Paris with his guitar, I don’t know what he did to make ends meet, but it must not have been fun. He probably doesn’t want to talk about it…
BREL: Oh, I don’t mind. I didn’t do anything at all! [laughs]
FERRÉ: That’s great, then… It’s always better that way! [laughs]
BRASSENS: You weren’t the only one. I’ve never done anything but write songs…

All three of you have, more or less, been involved in cinema. Do you think actors and singers have something in common?

FERRÉ: I’ve never been an actor. I’d love to do it, but I guess I don’t know. I’d love to, the way you’d love to do things you don’t know how to do.
BRASSENS: I don’t know how to be an actor, I really, sincerely don’t… I have no idea.
BREL: I’ve made two films. Not for the sake of Cinema or the Lumière brothers, but because both times there was this idea of freedom… And I’ve very strong feelings about freedom! The first was Risky Business (Les risques du métier, 1967), and the other was The Bonnot Gang (La bande à Bonnot, 1968). I was seduced by the idea. And I believe that, if you can lend a hand to an idea, you have to do it.

Cinema is first and foremost a collaborative effort… Did this do anything to change the lonely work of the singer?

BREL: No… For musicals, you can talk a lot more about collaborative work.
BRASSENS: I don’t think it’s that collaborative work, or some other kind of work, brings or doesn’t bring something more to the table… A guy likes acting or he doesn’t. I don’t like it, but I have nothing against collaborative work. The film that I was involved in, The Gates of Paris (La porte des Lilas, 1957), I did with a couple of friends, Brasseurs and Bussières, and it worked very well. They didn’t bother me. I didn’t bother them. What I don’t like is the technical side of things, the mechanical. I don’t like anything more than the mike you guys shoved under our noses!
FERRÉ: When we sing, we are the only ones there in the spotlight, with just a suit on, a guitar or a piano, and we know what “the solitude of a singer” means. We cope with what we call “work,” but it’s not always easy. What I’m wondering is, if, for Brel, the solitude of the theater is the same as a recital?
BREL: Yes, it’s the same solitude.
FERRÉ: You mean that when you play your role, surrounded by other people, you are as alone as when you sing in a concert-hall for two hours? That’s new to me… I didn’t realize that.
BRASSENS: Of course it is… Because if it turns out rotten, they’ll say it’s him who was bad. He’s got to make his voice heard…
FERRÉ: He’s already got his armor on the moment he steps onto the stage…
BREL: For Man of La Mancha [Ed: Stage Musical, 1968], it’s a bit different because it was me who started this madness. So I’m still a little bit alone in my madness.

– The others don’t share in the madness?

BREL: Of course they do! But it’s likely they don’t think it’s all madness. In the end, for me, in the moment that I’m acting, I’m as alone as when I’m giving a recital.
BRASSENS: Don’t worry. In any case, you’re always alone where ever you go, all the time. And you’re not the only one!
BREL: Well of course! The guy who says to me that he’s not alone in life is more Belgian than I am! [Ed: Possibly an oblique reference to the stereotype that Belgians aren’t the brightest crayons in the box.]

Jacques Brel, “Litanies for a Return” (1958)

Name: Jacques Brel
National Origin: Belgian (Flemish)
Connection to previous post: Jacques Brel and Barbara were really close friends for years and years. They were in a movie together, Franz (1971), which I think Brel directed? When Brel died of lung cancer in the late 70s, Barbara wrote the most anguished song about him, Gaugin (with English subtitles) (Brel was buried in Hiva-Oa, in the same cemetary as Gaugin).

Honest to God, I would post 20 of Jacques Brel’s songs if I could. But I guess I’ll only do one for now. His influence and importance over the years in French music can’t be understated. Like a lot of French people, he was something of a philosopher and he actually made the most lucid observations about life. Some of his songs approach poetry, and after he died, a lot of people remembering him–his friends, Mitterand, etc.–liked to refer to him as a poet. Now, Brel fought against the idea that he wrote “poetry.” In an interview, he outlined what he saw as the difference between poetry and song:

“I don’t write poetry. I am no poet. I write songs. Poetry has nothing to do with songs. People are mixing everything up. Singing is something different. A song has to be straight. It is written in order to be sung. Poetry is something more, it’s something you must look at below the surface, and savour in peace. It is very different… like racing bulls and sailing on the Rhine. There’s no comparison.”

I can’t decide if I agree, but there’s a lot of interesting arguments that the French have made about the relationship between poetry and pop music. Singers in the 50s and 60s were particularly flirty with this idea, setting the poems of Rimbaud, Apollinaire, and Baudelaire to music. Fights on French TV have broken out over whether or not popular music can be Art. Someday when I’m feeling extra ambitious, I’ll translate the roundtable discussion Brel did on the radio with two other major French singer-songwriters, Georges Brassens and Léo Ferré about poetry, anarchy, love, and songwriting. It was fascinating but made me want to punch things because Ferré was a gross misogynist and even Brel had a few WTF moments that had my head spinning.

Anyway, I’m posting this first song because the last time I was listening to it I had an amazing epiphany about how awesome this song is and how awesome Brel is for writing it. This is some truly brilliant shit here.

“Litanies For a Return” on YouTube.

My heart, my darling, my soul
My heaven, my fire, my flame
My well, my spring, my valley
My honey, my balm, my Holy Grail

My wheat, my gold, my earth
My plough, my rock, my stone
My night, my thirst, my hunger
My day, my dawn, my bread

My sail, my wave, my guide, my voice
My blood, my strength, my fever, my self
My song, my laugh, my wine, my joy
My dawn, my cry, my life, my faith

My heart, my darling, my soul
My heaven, my fire, my flame
My body, my flesh, my goodness
You’ve returned to me

So, the subject of the song, the singer’s lover, is associated with the most basic and primitive elements in the world (blood, bread, fire, etc.), and this primitiveness is reinforced through the fact that the whole song, until the final line, is composed entirely of single-syllable words, with exceptions for the words (at the end of a line) that end with a “mute” e ([ə] in IPA). A mute e is traditionally NOT pronounced in speech, but IS pronounced in poetry and song. So a word like “flamme” (flame), which norminally would be one syllable, is pronounced as two syllables in the song. When I say the song is “basic,” I don’t mean it pejoratively, but in the sense of primeval, undeveloped, essential. The monosyllabic words, the primitive objects associated with his lover, all point to the idea that his lover represents the most essential parts of his very being. Even the simple AABB rhyme scheme reinforces the primitive aspect of his ecstastic litany. Since this is my blog and I can do whatever I want, here’s the IPA version of the song so I can proceed to make my next point, describing how he breaks the structure of the song to amazing effect. Pay particular attention to the symbol [y] and how many times it appears.

[mɔ̃ kœʀ ma mi mɔ̃n- ɑ mə
mɔ̃ sjεl mɔ̃ fø ma flɑ mə
mɔ̃ pɥi ma suʀs mɔ̃ val
mɔ̃ mjεl mɔ̃ bo mə mɔ̃ gʀal
mɔ̃ ble mɔ̃n- ɔʀ ma tε ʀə
mɔ̃ sɔk mɔ̃ ʀɔk ma pjε ʀə
ma nɥi ma swaf ma fε̃
mɔ̃ ʒuʀ mɔ̃n- ob mɔ̃ pε̃
ma vwal ma vag mɔ̃ gid ma vwa
mɔ̃ sɑ̃ ma fɔʀs ma fjεvʀ mɔ̃ mwa
mɔ̃ ʃɑ̃ mɔ̃ ʀiʀ mɔ̃ vε̃ ma ʒwa
mɔ̃n- ob mɔ̃ kʀi ma vi ma fwa
mɔ̃ kœʀ ma mi mɔ̃n- ɑ mə
mɔ̃ sjεl mɔ̃ fø ma flɑ mə
mɔ̃ kɔʀ ma ʃεʀ mɔ̃ bjε̃
vwa la kə ty ʀə vjε̃]

How many times did you see [y]? Exactly once. In the “tu” (you) of the last line: “Voilà que tu reviens” (lit. “And now you’re returning”). “Voilà” breaks the one-syllable rule for the song, indicating an abrupt surprise or a sudden change associated with his lover’s return. And “tu” is the subject and audience of the song–everything in the song is revolving around this unspoken “tu.” The sudden and unique appearance of the sound [y] corresponds with the appearance of his “you.” This is absolutely genius writing. Weirdly, the translation of the lyrics work out perfectly in this regard: in English, the “ou” in “you” is pronounced as a long oo sound. In the lyrics, the oo sound of “you” doesn’t appear anywhere else outside of the last line. It’s pretty magnificent when this works out. And that’s why I think this song is brilliant.

Barbara, “Göttingen” (1964)

So to make this more interesting, I’m going to play a game with myself. Every new post will somehow connect to the post before it, whether it’s through the artists, or the theme, or the song, or whatever.

Name: Barbara, née Monique Andrée Serf (1930-1997)
Ethnic/National origin: Her maternal grandmother was Russian, and her family was Jewish.
Connection to previous post: As Barbara was starting to sing in the cabarets in the late 50s/early 60s, she was mentored by Nicole Louvier.

Barbara, like Nicole Louvier, was a singer-songwriter. Like many cabaret singers in the 50s and 60s, she was at first primarily an “interpreter” of songs. A lot of the albums around then had titles like “X-Singer sings Y-Songwriter,” e.g. her first albums were “Barbara sings Brassens” (1960) and “Barbara sings Brel” (1961). This convention was turned on its head a bit when she recorded an album in 1964 called “Barbara sings Barbara.” Sometimes it’s hard for me to read French humor, but I feel comfortable saying this was probably meant to be tongue-in-cheek. The same year she dropped another album “Le Mal de Vivre” (“Despair”, lit. “The pain of life”), and this is where the song “Göttingen” first appears. The story of the birth of the song is interesting. She wrote it when she was reluctantly giving a concert at a music school in Göttingen, Germany (reluctant as any Jew who grew up during WWII would be to visit Germany). Apparently there was a big kerfuffle over the fact that she wanted to play a grand piano, but they provided her with an upright. The concert was delayed while some poor old lady found her a grand and got it to the theater. After that, apparently, the gig went off without a hitch and the the audience simply adored her. The experience turned out to be so positive that she stayed for an extra week. During this extra week, she wrote “Göttingen.” In her autobiography, Barbara writes:

“In Göttingen, I discovered the house of the Brothers Grimm where they wrote the well-known fairytales of our childhoods. It was in a little garden next to the theater that I scribbled “Göttingen,” the last afternoon of my trip. The last night, apologizing to everyone [for its incomplete state], I half-read half-sang it with an incomplete melody. I finished the song in Paris. So I owe this song to the stubborn insistence of Gunther Klein, to ten students, and a compassionate old woman, to the blondness of the children of Göttingen, to a profound desire for reconciliation, but not a desire to forget.” (Wikipedia.fr)

In the 60s in France, people were still not able to forgive or forget what happened during the Second World War, and so Barbara’s song became a hymn to renew the friendships between France and Germany by remembering all that they have in common. Evidently it was considered so important to Franco-German relations that in 2003, the German chancellor Gerhard Schroder mentioned her name during the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of an accord made between de Gaulle and his German counterpart, Adenauer. And she was on a stamp. And they named a street after her in Germany. I just found this BBC article on the importance of the song. Pretty cool stuff.

Live performance: YouTube

Lyrics:

Of course it’s not the Seine
It’s not the Bois de Vincennes
But it’s so lovely, all the same,
in Göttingen, in Göttingen.

There are no quais, no old melodies
lamenting, crawling about,
But love blooms, nonetheless,
in Göttingen, in Göttingen.

Herman, Peter, Helga and Hans,
They know better than we do, I think,
The history of our French kings,
In Göttingen

And, no offense intended,
But the fairytales of our childhood,
those “once upon a times” begin
In Göttingen

Of course, we have the Seine
And we have the Bois de Vincennes too,
But, my God, the roses are beautiful
in Göttingen, in Göttingen

We have our pallid mornings
And Verlaine’s gray spirit
They have same melancholy
in Göttingen, in Göttingen

When they don’t know what to say to us,
They stand there just smiling at us,
But we understand them, even so,
The blond children of Göttingen

And too bad for those who are shocked
And may everyone else forgive me
But children are the same
in Paris or Göttingen

Oh, may they never return,
Those days of blood and hatred
For there are people that I love
in Göttingen, in Göttingen
[Repeat]

And should the alarm sound
and we’re forced to take up arms again
My heart will shed a tear
For Göttingen, for Göttingen

But it’s so lovely, all the same,
in Göttingen, in Göttingen.
[Repeat]

Nicole Louvier, “Who Will Deliver Me?” (1953)

So anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am obsessed with French music from the 1950s and 60s. How the fascination began is for another post, but one of the things I noticed is that there’s a high percentage of French singers from this time period who were immigrants, or the children of immigrants. I might talk more later about the politics of immigration and race in France, but in terms of the 50s and 60, it seems to me that artists who are immigrants were valuable only insofar as they contribute to a very narrow idea of French culture, linguistically and aesthetically. What I guess I’m saying is that I’m astonished by the number of singers and composers who contributed to an AMAZING era in French music, whose identities and histories as NON-French were swept under the rug. For me, translating the songs of these singers and re-exposing their racial, ethnic, foreign identities is a way of reclaiming those lost identities and underscores the ways that immigrants in France have played an active role in defining and changing French culture.

Anyway! Nicole Louvier (1933-2003) was what the French call “auteure-compositrice-interprète” (author-composer-interpreter), meaning she authored the lyrics, composed the music, and sang the song. In English, I guess she’d be a singer-songwriter. Her family were Jews from Poland who settled in France sometime before World War II. Nicole began writing songs when she was in her teens and by 20, she was being championed by the great Maurice Chevalier as the Next Big Thing in French music, and she won a prize for her song “Who Will Deliver Me?” Nicole was remarkable in that she was one of the few ladies with a guitar in those days. Many lady singers were simply interpreters, not songwriters. She was known for her poetic lyrics and melancholy songs, of which “Who Will Deliver Me?” is certainly one.

Here’s the song on YouTube.

And here are the lyrics:

Refrain:
Who will deliver me
From your body, your fingers, your lips?
Who will deliver me?
Who will finally deliver me from you?

Next to you, it’s like I’m a prisoner
Deep inside
I fled without saying why
You know why, you know why, you do
Your eyes and your scent are all over me
Tomorrow
I’ll escape, alone again, to somewhere far away
You know I will, you know I will, you know it
[Refrain]

I’ll go searching on all the roads
For someone
Whose kiss is more potent than yours
You know I will, you know I will, you know it
I’ll go searching on all the roads
For your hands
The only kiss that bothers me is yours
You know it is, you know it is, you do
[Refrain]

But just to hear you sigh again,
Or laugh,
I’d give all my days to come
You know I would, you know I would, you do
I feel I’ll turn back around and come back
Just
To sleep one night next to you, and then die
You know it, you know it, you know it
[Refrain]

Version 2.0

So I trashed my first blog. I thought I was feeling it and then I wasn’t. Something I really enjoy is translation. It’s like a word game, where you get as close to the original meaning as possible while transforming it into something new. I got into translation when I was reading manga when I was a teenager. When AOL was still new and beautiful and all you could find were text translations with the vaguest of descriptions of the panels.

I had some exposure to professional translation when I spent a month interning at an indy comic publisher in Seattle. They had one guy who translated every foreign comic that they published. He translated French, Italian, Danish, Swedish, German, and Spanish (I think). When he found out that I was interested in translation, he threw a couple books at me and told me to translate one of them. That’s how I ended up translating a Belgian detective comic from the 50s, Murder by High Tide by Maurice Tillieux. And then I did Ten Thousand Years in Hell, the next book in the series. Both were edited by my mentor. The latter book has yet to be published because my mentor suddenly died, devastating the (very small) company, and they have yet to pick up all the pieces left by his death. They promised me it has a future, and that it’s just a matter of time before they publish it.

I’d really like to do literary translation, but training costs thousands and thousands of dollars. So that’s probably several years down the line for me. That brings me to this blog. I’m pretty terrified of getting out of practice of this translation thing, so that’s what I’ll be doing here. Mostly I’ll probably do song lyrics, but I might do some poetry, news articles, or other stuff in the interest of diversity.