Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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French Bandstand: Édition spéciale

quelqu'un-de-l'interieur albumI’ve written at least a dozen different drafts trying to get today’s post right but none of them do the subject justice. Possibly the only way to share all the feelings and memories and emotions I have about this song would be in multiple entries or in a really long list like my Neil Diamond story, but every time I think I’ve narrowed down the salient points, another three things crop up in my mind and I have to start another version.

Instead, I’m just going to say that BROADCAST NEWS is one of the best American movies of all time and you should watch it. I’d probably say that to you anyway as it’s a good piece of advice, but for today, it’s also got to serve as the preamble to one of my favorite French songs.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know which one I’m talking about. It plays when Aaron, Albert Brooks’s character, is getting drunk alone in his apartment in the middle of the day, singing and reading: “I am read-ing while I’m sing-ing. I’m read-ing, I’m doing both!”

A million years ago, I’d copied the name of the song from the end credits on my well-worn VHS copy of the movie. It’s called <<Édition spéciale>> by Francis Cabrel.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I had been looking for the album this song appears on, Quelqu’un de l’intérieur (1983), since the early 1990s. I didn’t actually get my hands on it until 2007 when my sister called from the train station in Geneva on her way to the airport to ask what the name of the album was that I’d just spent the whole weekend trying to track down in that city. They had a copy right there. Just waiting for her to find it and send it into my loving embrace.

The song itself seems to be about a crush on a late night TV presenter, though the only show I come across with the same name started just a few years ago. Regardless, the beginning goes

D’abord y’a cette fille / To start there’s this girl

Dans la boîte de verre / In the glass box

Qui dit “Bonne nuit, à demain” / Who says, “Good night, until tomorrow”

Sur un bout de musique / Over a piece of music

Des bonshommes à l’envers / The dolls [little men?] go upside down

Et puis après plus rien / And then there’s nothing

The last part I’m guessing refers to the “end of broadcast day” image that was shown before the channel shut down for the night, but I can’t find any examples of what that might have been online.

Further appreciation

Since living in France, I rejoice every time Cabrel comes on the radio, which is often, since he’s both prolific and his acoustic guitar + rambling voice style is easily identifiable.

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French Bandstand: Gaëtan Roussel – La simplicité

OrpailleurThere’s something about Gaëtan Roussel… I don’t know how he does it, but he basically tapped into my brain’s musical pleasure center and took all of the things I love and made another damn song I can’t get enough of. <<La simplicité>> is the first track off last year’s <<Orpailleur>> and it’s essentially the best.

Here’s the chorus:

Ça parait toujours avoir existé / It appears to have always existed
Des heures entières à la chercher / Whole hours spent looking for it
A tenter de l’apprivoiser / Attempts to tame it
Ça parait toujours avoir existé / Appear to have always existed
La simplicité / Simplicity
C’est rien mais c’est si compliqué / It’s nothing but it’s so complicated

I quite like the video too, which isn’t usually the case. Despite being part of the first MTV generation, my parents didn’t love me so I never had cable and, possibly as a result, music videos kind of detract from a song for me. Nothing ruins the pictures in my head like actual pictures. But, as I said, this one’s nice — all graphic designs and patterns — and reminds me of the great, great Chuck Jones’s animated take on “The Dot and the Line.”

Annoying to me

One of the maddening things about <<La simplicité>> is that it features a repeated noise in the background that sounds like a phone ringing. There should be laws against this as it’s totally distracting and could cause all kinds of accidents.

DEADWOOD's one of the few shows that continues to grow in my estimation.

DEADWOOD‘s one of the few shows that continues to grow in my estimation.

Learn a thing?

An orpailleur is a gold miner or a person who pans for gold. I don’t immediately see the connection between the album title and the songs, but I’ll go back with a more critical ear and see if I can rustle something up. Regardless, I now have a chance to post a pic of the always-excellent Jim Beaver as the wonderful Mr. Ellsworth on DEADWOOD.


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French Bandstand: Mon manège à moi

Bienvenue à French Bandstand! This is where I adopt the motto established by Dick Clark on “American Bandstand” and introduce you to French music that’s “got a good beat and you can dance to.”

Last time, I shared with you a disco version of the most well known French song popularized by Edith Piaf. Today, I’ve got another Piaf cover, Étienne Daho’s “Mon manège à moi.”

The title translates loosely to “you make me spin around” meaning, as it does, “my own carousel.” The lyrics follow in the tradition of most songs about love, specifically enumerating “how you make my head spin like a planet,” “how I am always at a party when I’m in your arms” and “how you make me orbit around the Earth.”

Tomorrow, I’ll be looking at a Word Enemy tangentially related to “Mon manège à moi” and Wednesday will have a Word Mystery totally inspired by this song.

You can watch Edith Piaf’s version here.