…Well my time went so quickly

The day’s first offshore flight was never an upbeat journey. It was far too early, especially after a typical fortnight of fun and frolic. But we’d all had our two weeks on “the beach.” Now like clockwork, we were at the Aberdeen heliport again, making ready for the devil’s payment of two weeks on a North Sea rig.

At precisely 0600 the chopper lifted off, with two pilots and 26 mournful men clad in Day-Glo orange survival suits, each anticipating the 14 grueling twelve-hour shifts that loomed ahead. At least we were treated to a spectacular sunrise.

In 1983 cassette tapes were the favored musical medium (remember?) and just prior to take-off the pilots would allow you to pass one up.  Then they’d theatrically make a choice from the pile and play it for those who wished to blot out the old Sikorsky S-61’s many sounds (but not shakes) on the headphones tethered to every seat.

The only tape of mine that was ever chosen was Tom Wait’s “Closing Time” and it was the very first track on the album (as we used to refer to them) that set the stage for one of the more poignant hour-long passages to the Brae Alpha Field, some 150 miles off the Scottish coast.

The helicopter rose like a fly, vertically at first and then forward, slowly gaining height and speed and soon you could see the sun beginning to crack the horizon out over the cold, roiling bay. And then the music, yes my music, began to play.

The song that brought wistfulness to the demeanor of some of society’s coarsest members (me included, I suppose), while the creaking chopper swayed and the headlights of the early morning traffic shined from down below, is today’s selection. Listen and picture if you will:

 “Well my time went so quickly…”

[What was that he said? You know…it bloody well did too.]

“…As I pulled away slowly, feeling so holy, God knows, I was feeling alive…Now the sun’s coming up, I’m riding with Lady Luck…Freeway cars and trucks…Stars beginning to fade, and I lead the parade, just a-wishing I’d stayed a little longer…”

[By now a few tears were welling up in the eyes of a Geordie roughneck across the aisle.]

 “And it’s six in the morning, gave me no warning; I had to be on my way. Well there’s trucks all a-passing… and the lights all a flashing…”

[On the song goes, describing a completely different scenario and yet achingly true to this very experience, while our chopper continued to gain momentum and altitude and jarred onward; leaving behind the last visible remnants of a comparatively happy world, so preferable to the dreary one that awaited us. And away we flew, hanging on to that last image of “terra firma”…away out over the shore…and then the sea…]

 “…Now the sun’s coming up, I’m riding with Lady Luck… freeway cars and trucks, freeway cars and trucks, freeway cars and trucks…”

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Monday 12 March  

Ol’ ‘55

 Well my time went so quickly,

It went lickety-splitley out to my ol’ ’55

As I pulled away slowly, feeling so holy

God knows, I was feeling alive

 Now the sun’s coming up

I’m riding with Lady Luck

Freeway cars and trucks

Stars beginning to fade

And I lead the parade

Just a-wishing I’d stayed a little longer

Oh, Lord, let me tell you that the feeling’s getting stronger

 And it’s six in the morning

Gave me no warning

I had to be on my way

Well there’s trucks all a-passing me

And the lights are all flashing

I’m on my way home from your place

 And now the sun’s coming up

I’m riding with Lady Luck

Freeway cars and trucks

Stars beginning to fade

And I lead the parade

Just a-wishing I’d stayed a little longer

Oh, Lord, let me tell you that the feeling’s getting stronger

And my time went so quickly

I went lickety-splitley out to my Ol’ ’55

As I pulled away slowly, feeling so holy

God knows, I was feeling alive

Now the sun’s coming up,

I’m riding with Lady Luck,

Freeway cars and trucks

Freeway cars and trucks

Freeway cars and trucks…

 

 

…hope is my philosophy

Taking their name from King’s College Cambridge, where a number of the original members were choral scholars (reading for their university degrees while singing six days a week in the college chapel) today’s selection was first featured on the King’s Singers 1980 album “New Day”.

Written by Welshman, John David (best known for his work as a bass player with Dave Edmunds), the inspiration for the song came while David was… “sitting alone late at night on the settee feeling very low, and watching an ominous story on the news about the very real possibility of nuclear war.

“I started singing to the (hopefully) soon-to arrive New Day like it was an entity, that would rescue me from the depths. If the sun came up and the birds started singing as usual then I could believe that it really was the new day in which life would go on, and in which hope would survive.

“The tune and the words popped into my head at the same time, and it was all written in about 10 minutes, which is why (to me at least) it’s not perfect. But I didn’t feel I had the right to change anything. I think that’s about as close as I can get to an explanation.”

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Sunday 11 March

You Are the New Day

I will love you more than me

And more than yesterday

If you can but prove to me

You are the new day

Send the sun in time for dawn

Let the birds all hail the morning

Love of life will urge me say

You are the new day

 When I lay me down at night

Knowing we must pay

Thoughts occur that this night might

Stay yesterday

 Thoughts that we as humans small

Could slow worlds and end it all

Lie around me where they fall

Before the new day

 One more day when time is running out

For everyone

Like a breath I knew would come I reach for

A new day

Hope is my philosophy

Just needs days in which to be

Love of life means hope for me

Borne on a new day

You are the new day

…the lonely in disguise are clinging to the crowd

Dylan had gone electric; the Beatles had just released “Sgt. Pepper”. And the prolific, insightful, sardonic and poignantly tragic Phil Ochs wanted to make a record that reflected these trends and more.

So he hired a producer with a classical music background to help him to realize his vision. The result was his musically diverse (fourth) studio recording “Pleasures of the Harbor”.  Released in 1967,  it was his most ambitious album.

A fitting selection for a Saturday, the album’s elegiac title track was composed after Ochs saw a screening of John Ford’s 1940 film, “The Long Voyage Home”.  Listen carefully amongst the woodwinds, horns and strings. One of the session musicians on guitar was (“…send lawyers, guns and money, Dad get me out of this”) a 20 year old Warren Zevon.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Saturday 10 March 

Pleasures of the Harbor

And the ship sets the sail

They’ve lived the tale

To carry to the shore

Straining at the oars

Or staring from the rail.

And the sea bids farewell

She waves in swells

And sends them on their way

Time has been her pay

And time will have to tell.

Soon your sailing will be over

Come and take the pleasures of the harbor.

And the anchor hits the sand

The hungry hands

Have tied them to the port

The hour will be short

For leisure on the land.

And the girls scent the air

They seem so fair

With paint upon their face

Soft is their embrace

To lead them up the stairs.

Soon your sailing will be over

Come and take the pleasures of the harbor.

In the room dark and dim

Touch of skin

He asks her of her name

She answers with no shame

And not a sense of sin.

‘Til the fingers draw the blinds

Sip of wine

The cigarette of doubt

The candle is blown out

The darkness is so kind.

Soon your sailing will be over

Come and take the pleasures of the harbor.

And the shadows frame the light

Same old sight

Thrill has blown away

Now all alone they lay

Two strangers in the night.

Till his heart skips a beat

He’s on his feet

To shipmates he must join

She’s counting up the coins

He’s swallowed by the street.

Soon your sailing will be over

Come and take the pleasures of the harbor.

 In the bar hangs a cloud

The whiskey’s loud

There’s laughter in their eyes

The lonely in disguise

Are clinging to the crowd.

And the bottle fills the glass

The haze is fast

He’s trembling for the taste

Of passion gone to waste

In memories of the past.

Soon your sailing will be over

Come and take the pleasures of the harbor.

 In the alley, red with rain

Cry of pain

For love was but a smile

Teasing all the while

Now dancing down the drain.

‘Till the boys reach the dock

They gently mock

And lift him on their backs

Lay him on his rack

And leave beneath the light.

Soon your sailing will be over

Come and take the pleasures of the harbor.

And the ship sets the sail

They’ve lived the tale

To carry from the shore

Straining at the oars

Or staring from the rail.

And the sea bids farewell

She waves in swells

And sends them on their way

Time has been her pay

And time will have to tell.

Soon your sailing will be over

Come and take the pleasures of the harbor.

…It’s not the same, honey

The first thing that strikes you is the remarkable bone structure.  They look like a band that’s comprised of three super models and their brother.  Good genes you might say.  And then they begin to play and you’re compelled to make a reassessment. The Corrs from Dundalk, Ireland have…spectacular genes.

In the ’60s and ’70s Gerry Corr (a payroll department manager by day) and his wife, Jean regularly played and sang pop standards together at local pubs.  As their young family grew they would often bring their kids (Jim, Sharon, Caroline and Andrea) to the performances. Gerry also taught each of his children to play the piano and while Jim (the eldest) took guitar lessons, Sharon (the eldest daughter) learned violin.

Once they graduated from school, Jim and Sharon began playing as a duo at their aunt’s local pub and were eventually joined by their younger sisters, with Caroline on drums and Andrea singing lead.  Then the Corrs’ career took off, when in 1991 they each landed small parts in (that seminal film) “The Commitments” and the film’s musical coordinator became their manager. Since then the sibling group has released five studio albums (and numerous singles), which have all gone platinum.

And yet there’s more. In 2005 they each became honorary Members of the Order of the British Empire for their prolific philanthropy, making them the first Irish band ever to receive such an honor from the Queen.

Written in 1982 by Phillip Lynott, lead singer for the Dublin band, Thin Lizzy, “Old Town” was the first song to be played on Irish legal Independent Radio (Dublin’s Capital Radio 104.4) when it was launched in 1989. Although the Corrs covered the song with a studio recording for their 2005 album, “Home” they first performed it during their 1999 appearance on MTV’s Unplugged series.  Today’s selection is that rendition.

 Oh and regarding that good bone structure.  Take a look for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSEBUCu-wYs

 

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 10 March

Old Town

The girl’s a fool

She broke the rule

She hurt him hard

This time he will break down

She’s lost his trust

And so she must

Know all is lost

The system has broke down

Romance has broke down

 This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broken down

This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broke down

She plays it hard

She plays it tough

But that’s enough

The love is over

She’s broke his heart and that is rough

But in the end he’ll soon recover

The romance is over

This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broken down

This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broke down

This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broken down

This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broke down

 I’ve been spending my money

In the old town

It’s not the same honey

With you not around

I’ve been spending my time

In the old town

I sure miss you honey

Now you’re not around

You’re not around

This old town

Hola

 This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broken down

Yeah, yeah

This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broke down

 This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broken down

 Yeah, yeah

This boy is crackin’ up

This boy has broke down

…Yes indeed we’re waiting

I know it’s another “twice-told-tale” but I saw Kenny Rankin back in the ’70s at Paul’s Mall in Boston.  My buddy, Perry and I had front row, center seats.  When Rankin flubbed up a little during one of his sets he made a funny face and we both laughed (not noticing we were the only ones laughing, of course).  At the end of the set he looked at us appraisingly, and a little too lengthily for my comfort, and said “even professional musicians make mistakes.”

Born in New York in 1940 and raised in Washington Heights, Jazz was his favored genre, but as a singer-songwriter of his era, it was clear to him that he needed to take a more pop-oriented path, at least early in his career. And in following that path he developed a considerable following in the early ‘70s with a number of albums that broke into the Billboard Top 100 Album Charts.

By the 1990s he was able to re-slant his repertoire to accommodate his jazz preferences while retaining his existing audience. Johnny Carson certainly liked him, and he appeared on “The Tonight Show” nearly two dozen times.  Kenny Rankin died from lung cancer in 2009, only three weeks after receiving his diagnosis.

Today’s selection was written by Paul McCartney (although credited to Lennon-McCartney) while he was residing in Scotland in 1968.  He later claimed to have been inspired by the escalating racial tensions that year in the U.S.  The song was included on “The White Album”.

Years later, when McCartney and Lennon were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, McCartney sought out Kenny Rankin to sing “Blackbird” at the ceremony, saying that Rankin’s was the best rendition he’d ever heard.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SONG – Thursday 8 March

Blackbird

Blackbird singin’ in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life

You were only waiting

For this moment to arrive

 Blackbird singin’ in the dead of night

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see

All your life

You were only waiting

For this moment to be free

 Blackbird fly

Blackbird fly

Into the dark and lonely night

 All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to be free

You and me, we’re waiting for this moment to be free

Can’t you see we’re waiting for this moment to be free

Yes indeed we’re waiting for this moment to be free.

…So strike a pose on a Cadillac

Along with such patently disturbing numbers as:  In the Year 2525; Imagine; Morning Has Broken and that subversive classic What a Wonderful World, today’s selection was one of the songs that was deemed inappropriate for radio play by Clear Channel Communications after the 2001 September 11 attacks.  Not to worry, a decade later it enjoyed a huge surge in popularity among younger protesters during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.

It all began when American songwriter Liam Sternberg observed people on a ferry walking in an awkward manner to keep their balance.  It reminded him of ancient Egyptian reliefs and that old British music hall act, Wilson, Koppel and Betty, whose claim to fame was an Egyptian parody called the “sand dance”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq7DGvfnr3U

Sternberg offered the resulting song to Toni Basil, who declined. Then he turned to the Bangles, who were recording their third album, “A Different Light”.  When they released it as the album’s third single in 1986, “Walk Like and Egyptian” reached Number Three on the UK Singles chart and became the first song by an all-female group playing their own instruments to top the U.S. Billboard singles chart.

You may remember the music video (nominated for Best Group Video at the 1987 MTV Music Video Awards) featuring people shuffling and posing like those Ancient Egyptian reliefs, interposed with members of the Bangles singing and playing. One of these scenes includes Susannah Hoffs, filmed in a close-up with her eyes exotically moving from side to side…looking left and right.

When later asked about the popular scene Hoffs explained that she was unaware that the camera was filming a close-up and that she was actually looking at individual audience members during the live video shoot as this was her technique for overcoming stage fright… switching between an audience member on her left and one on her right.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SONG – Wednesday 7 March 

Walk Like an Egyptian

 All the old paintings on the tombs

They do the sand dance don’t you know

If they move too quick (oh whey oh)

They’re falling down like a domino

 All the bazaar men by the Nile

They got the money on a bet

Gold crocodiles (oh whey oh)

They snap their teeth on your cigarette

 Foreign types with the hookah pipes say

Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey ooooh

Walk like an Egyptian

 The blonde waitresses take their trays

They spin around and they cross the floor

They’ve got the moves (oh whey oh)

You drop your drink then they bring you more

All the school kids so sick of books

They like the punk and the metal band

When the buzzer rings (oh whey oh)

They’re walking like an Egyptian

 All the kids in the marketplace say

Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey ooooh

Walk like an Egyptian

 Slide your feet up the street bend your back

Shift your arm then you pull it back

Life is hard you know (oh whey oh)

So strike a pose on a Cadillac

 If you want to find all the cops

They’re hanging out in the donut shop

They sing and dance (oh whey oh)

They spin the clubs cruise down the block

 All the Japanese with their yen

The party boys call the Kremlin

And the Chinese know (oh whey oh)

They walk the line like Egyptian

 All the cops in the donut shop say

Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oooooooh

Walk like an Egyptian

Walk like an Egyptian

…You’ll remember me

Though she died in relative-obscurity and never had a chance to meet him, the world-famous Sting would certainly come to know her name.  After listening to her rendition of his “Fields of Gold” he later said, “I heard this voice and it was so beautiful, so pure, and (then the song) is playing on Radio 2. Then lo and behold, it’s Number One in England. Even though it’s a sad tragic story, it has kind of a poetry about it.”

From an early age, Eva Marie Cassidy (born in Washington, DC in 1963) displayed a keen interest in art and music. Her father taught her to play the guitar and encouraged her to sing and play at family gatherings.  Yet she was always exceedingly shy and found it difficult to perform in front of strangers.  Oh but she still loved to sing and, despite her inhibitions, performed in small venues, garnering local acclaim for her inspired interpretations of blues, jazz, gospel, folk, country and pop classics.

In 1992 Cassidy released a duet album with funk musician, Chuck Brown and although the Washington Area Music Association honored her in both the Jazz/Traditional and Roots Rock/R&B categories, her unwillingness to narrow her stylistic focus to one genre nixed any chances of securing a record deal.  So she continued to perform locally, with occasional visits to the recording studio and finally self-released a solo album in 1996.  Mainly taped live at Georgetown’s Blues Alley in a single evening, it displays her eclecticism in covering artists as varied as: Billie Holiday, Pete Seeger, Al Green, Paul Simon, Curtis Mayfield, Fats Waller, Irving Berlin and (of course) Sting.

Then the unfathomable occurred. A few weeks later, Eva Cassidy was diagnosed with terminal melanoma and on November 2, 1996  she died at the age of 33.  Her debut studio album (“Eva by Heart”) was posthumously released the following year by a producer who, as a labor of love, also assembled a compilation CD called, “Songbird”.

Nearly three years after its quiet release a copy of “Songbird” somehow landed in the hands of BBC Radio 2’s Terry Wogan who played it regularly. In late 2000 it was the Number One album on the British charts, with three Number 1 singles including today’s selection. “Songbird” has since sold more than ten million copies worldwide and in the years that have followed a number of other posthumous Cassidy releases have also ascended the charts.

Like Sting, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton can also be counted as Eva Cassidy fans, as can a wide variety of industry critics:  “Her silken soprano voice (had) a wide and seemingly effortless range, unerring pitch and a gift for phrasing that at times was heart-stoppingly eloquent,” wrote the New York Times….

“There’s an undeniable emotional appeal in hearing an artist who you know died in obscurity singing a song about hope and a mystical world beyond everyday life,” wrote The Guardian

But Jazz critic, Ted Gioia perhaps summed it best… “You might be tempted to write off the ‘Cassidy sensation’ as a response to the sad story of the singer’s abbreviated life rather than as a measure of her artistry. But don’t be mistaken, Cassidy was a huge talent, whose obscurity during her lifetime was almost as much a tragedy as her early death.”

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SONG – Tuesday 6 March

 Fields of Gold

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves among the fields of barley

You can tell the sun in his jealous sky when we walked in fields of gold

So she took her love for to gaze awhile among the fields of barley

In his arms she fell as her hair came down among the fields of gold.

Will you stay with me, will you be my love among the fields of barley?

And you can tell the sun in his jealous sky when we walked in fields of gold

 I never made promises lightly and there have been some that I’ve broken

But I swear in the days still left we’ll walk in fields of gold

We’ll walk in fields of gold

I never made promises lightly and there have been some that I’ve broken

But I swear in the days still left we’ll walk in fields of gold

We’ll walk in fields of gold

 Many years have passed since those summer days among the fields of barley

See the children run as the sun goes down as you lie in fields of gold

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves among the fields of barley

You can tell the sun in his jealous sky when we walked in fields of gold

When we walked in fields of gold, when we walked in fields of gold


It’s something unpredictable

It was just about a year ago that the telephone rang at around 3:00 a.m. on a Sunday.  A little bit tipsy, slightly shaken, but mainly angry (oh boy was he pissed!) our son was on the line.  A student at Tulane in New Orleans, he’d just been mugged on Bourbon Street in the middle of Mardi Gras and he wanted me to cancel his bankcard at once.  “Oh and don’t tell, Mom” …who was obviously sitting up in bed, wide-eyed, right next to me… “It’ll only upset her.”

In cases like this it’s effortless to jump into action and the card was cancelled within minutes.  But then a little later while mulling it over (and over), when imagination had a chance to assert itself, the chill trickled down my spine.  He’d become separated from his friends in the crowd and felt someone grab his wallet.  Without thinking he gave chase down a side street. While one guy grabbed him around the neck from behind and the thug who took his wallet taunted him, a third punched him in the head.

What if they’d hit him with something other than a fist?  What if they’d continued to pummel him? What if there had been a knife?  What if ..?

I think we all learned a lesson that night. The big, strapping lad learned that he’s not quite as invincible as he thought, and maybe a little more wariness is in order. And 1,500 miles and a time-zone away, his parents learned that the “what if” game is a foolish waste of emotional energy.  A year later it seems a distant memory. You might say that in the end it was right.

Formed in Berkeley, California in 1987 and a major part of the resurging American punk rock scene at the time, Green Day has sold over 65 million records.  Still touring and having recently recorded its ninth studio album, the band has won five Grammy Awards, including one for Best Musical Show Album for a stage adaptation of its rock opera, “American Idiot.”

Lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong wrote today’s selection in 1994, although it wasn’t released until the band’s fifth album, “Nimrod” in 1997.  With its melodious, acoustic music and reflective lyrics “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” is an uncharacteristic song for Green Day.  As bassist, Mike Dirnt put it “the release of this song was probably the most punk thing we could have done.”

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SONG – Monday 5 March 

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

 Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road

Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go

So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why

It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time

 It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.

I hope you had the time of your life.

 So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind

Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time

Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial

For what it’s worth it was worth all the while

 It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.

I hope you had the time of your life.

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.

I hope you had the time of your life.

 It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.

I hope you had the time of your life.

…I’ve seen hard times

Just forty and she has won 27 Grammy Awards (with 41 nominations), making her the most awarded living recipient, only three behind classical conductor, Sir Georg Solti, the most honored artist ever.  She is already the most awarded singer…and the most awarded female artist…in Grammy history.

Alison Maria Krauss, born in 1971 in Decatur, Illinois and raised in nearby Champaign, began studying classical violin at age five because her mother was looking for interesting things for her to do. She soon switched to bluegrass and, at the age of eight, began to enter local talent contests.  At ten she had her own band.  At 13 she won the Walnut Valley Festival Fiddle Championship and was named “Most Promising Fiddler in the Midwest” by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass in America. She was also discovered to have “the voice of an angel.”

Signed by Rounder Records at the age of 14, she released her first solo album in 1987 and was then invited to join Union Station, the band with which she still performs.  As her contract with Rounder requires her to alternate between releasing solo albums and band albums, her first album with Union Station was released in 1989.

With fourteen albums and a plethora of soundtrack performances (including “O Brother, Where Art Thou”) she is roundly credited with helping to renew interest in bluegrass music.

Written by string-instrumentalist and vocalist Ron Black, today’s poignant selection (even for a Unitarian…and it’s the kind of selection in which Krauss excels) is the final track of Alison Krauss & Union Station’s (1997) seventh album, “So Long So Wrong”.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SONG – Sunday 4 March

A Reason For It All

I’ve seen hard times and I’ve been told

It isn’t any wonder that I fall

Why do we suffer, crossing off the years?

There must be a reason for it all

I’ve trusted in you, Jesus to save me from my sin

Heaven is the place I call my home

But I keep on getting caught up in this world I’m living in

And your voice it sometimes fades before I know

 Hurtin’ brings my heart to you, crying with my need

Depending on your love to carry me

The love that shed His blood for all the world to see

This must be the reason for it all

 Hurtin’ brings my heart to you, a fortress in the storm

When what I wrap my heart around is gone

I give my heart so easily to the ruler of this world

When the one who loves me most will give me all

 In all the things that cause me pain you give me eyes to see

I do believe but help my unbelief

I’ve seen hard times and I’ve been told

There is a reason for it all

…the entire universe goes “Boom!”

Outside the French-speaking world his most familiar song is “La Mer” written in 1943.  With more than 400-recorded versions, you may know it as “Beyond the Sea” (or perhaps as “Sailing”), which was a hit (with unrelated English lyrics) for Bobby Darin in the early-‘60s, and George Benson in the mid-‘80s.

Then there’s the popular song that he produced from Paul Verlaine’s “Chanson d’Automne” with a refrain that anyone who has read and/or seen the “The Longest Day” is sure to remember, “Blessent mon cœur d’une langueur monotone…” (“Wound my heart with a monotonous languor…”).  In early June 1944 this was the Allies’ signal to the French Resistance that the invasion of Normandy was underway.

Louis Charles Auguste Claude Trenet was born in 1913 in Narbonne, France, and although a wildly popular performer in his time and place, he is most famous today for his recordings from the late-‘30s through the mid-‘50s, an era when it was unusual for singers to write all their own material.  And write he did, refusing to record or perform any but his own songs. His catalogue features nearly 1,000 of them.

Charles Trenet generally wrote about love, or Paris, or nostalgia (or all three) using imagery that was whimsical, witty and sometimes surreal, combining the verbal nuances of a French song with the rhythms of American swing.

Today’s selection, a huge hit that reverberated with the darkening mood of the French public when it was released in 1938, simply bursts with “joie de vivre” … well, that and onomatopoeia. I include it with a tolerable translation… 

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SONG – Saturday 3 March

Boum

La pendule fait tic-tac-tic-tic  (The clock goes “Tic, Tac, Tic, Tic”)

Les oiseaux du lac pic-pac-pic-pic  (The birds of the lake sing Pic-Pac-Pic-Pic”)

Glou-glou-glou font tous les dindons  (“Glou-Glou-Glou” all the turkeys sing)

Et la jolie cloche ding-dang-dong  (And the lovely bells go “Ding-Dang-Dong”)

 Mais… boum!  (But… “Boom!”)

Quand notre coeur fait boum  (When our heart goes “Boom!”)

Tout avec lui dit boum  (Everything about it says “Boom!”)

Et c’est l’amour qui s’éveille  (And it’s love that has awakened)

Boum!  (“Boom!”)

Il chante “Love in Bloom”  (It sings “love in bloom”)

Au rythme de ce boum  (To the rhythm of this “Boom!”)

Qui redit boum à l’oreille  (Repeating “Boom” in our ear)

 Tout a changé depuis hier et la rue  (Everything has changed since yesterday)

A des yeux qui regardent aux fenêtres  (On the street eyes look out of the windows)

Y’a du lilas et y’a des mains tendues  (There are lilacs and there are open hands)

Sur la mer le soleil va paraître  (And over the ocean the sun is rising)

 Boum!  (“Boom!”)

L’astre du jour fait boum  (The stars today go “Boom!”)

Tout avec lui dit boum  (Everything about it says “Boom!”)

Quand notre coeur fait boum-boum  (When our hearts go “Boom, Boom!”)

 Le vent dans les bois fait hou-hou  (The wind in the wood moans “Whoooooo”)

La biche aux abois fait mê-ê-ê  (The lamb at bay go “Maaaaaaa”)

La vaisselle cassée fait fric-fric-frac  (A broken dish goes “Frick, Frick, Frack)

Et les pieds mouillés font flic-flic-flac  (And wet feet slip “Flip, Flip, Flap”)

Mais… boum!  (But… “Boom!”)

Quand notre coeur fait boum  (When our hearts go “Boom!”)

Tout avec lui dit boum  (Everything goes “Boom!”)

L’oiseau dit boum, c’est l’orage  (The bird says “Boom”…It’s a thunderstorm…Brrrrrrr)

 Boum!  (“Boom!”)

L’éclair qui, lui, fait boum  (The lightning that He makes goes “Boom!”)

Et le bon Dieu dit boum  (And the good Lord says “Boom!”)

Dans son fauteuil de nuages  (From his throne of clouds)

 Car mon amour est plus vif que l’éclair  (For this love is livelier than lightning)

Plus léger qu’un oiseau, qu’une abeille  (Lighter than a bird, than a bee)

Et s’il fait boum, s’il se met en colère  (And when it goes “Boom” with its passion)

Il entraîne avec lui des merveilles  (It carries us away with wonder)

 Boum!  (“Boom!”)

Le monde entier fait boum  (The whole world goes “Boom!”)

Tout avec lui dit boum  (The entire universe goes “Boom!”)

Quand notre coeur fait boum-boum  (Because my heart goes “Boom-Boom!”)

Boum, Boum!  (“Boom, Boom!”)

 Boum!  (“Boom!”)

Le monde entier fait boum  (The whole world goes “Boom!”)

Tout avec lui dit boum  (The entire universe goes “Boom!”)

Quand notre coeur fait boum-boum  (Because my heart goes “Boom-Boom!”)

Boum, Boum, Boum!  (“Boom, Boom, Boom!”)

 Boum, Boum!  (“Boom, Boom!”)

Je n’entends que Boum, Boum Boum!  (I hear only “Boom, Boom, Boom!”)

Ça fait toujours Boum Boum, Boum!  (It always goes “Boom, Boom, Boom!”)

“Brrrrrrr Boooooom!”