cross culture

Today I asked my daughter to tell me what it felt like to have an English mother when she was growing up. To my amazement she came back with the drawbacks.

“Well, there were the clothes and the I-don’t-care-about-appearances approach to dressing.”

I had flashback of her aged four:

“Non, Maman. C’est pas joli, ca.” (You can’t go out like that. You look bloody terrible.)

“And there were huge gaps in my popular (French) culture. I was the only one in my class who hadn’t heard of ‘La Grande Vadrouille’ and ‘La Boum.’ And I hadn’t even heard of Jacques Brel.”

Both cult films, La Grande Vadrouille is an exhausting, slap-stick comedy set during the Nazi Occupation, with Louis de Funès and and André Bourvil (widely believed to be the funniest men in French history) and La Boum is a coming of age film with Sophie Marceau slow dancing endlessly to bad French pop music. And as for Jacques Brel, over my dead body were we going to listen to that sniveling, misogynist…Belgian.

Then she added:

“But when everyone eventually discovered The Clash and Bob Marley, I knew all their songs off by heart.”

“So it was ok then?”

“Yeah. It was ok.”


4 thoughts on “cross culture

  1. Ah but Lucy you’ve gotta listen to Scott Walker singing Jacques Brel!

    Fantastic voice, singing some great lyrics with that unmistakeable 60’s beat behind it.

    You’ll fall in love with the Belgian for sure!

  2. Gotta love that girl. Seems like she has your ruthless sense of personal honesty.

    From my perspective, you got your priorities right. Good (politically engaged) music is much more important than fashion and flicks.

  3. GaryFen, thank you for Scott Walker. Not the same AT ALL. Fantastic. He’s in the darkly comic register, whereas Brel is in the self-aggrandizing, tragic reg. Same song sounds completely different sung by the two men. However beautiful Brel’s lyrics I will never be a fan of his performances. Just too maudlin. L.

  4. I agree with Lucy in the sense that I found Jacques Brel too abrasive, some contexts even crude. Nobody can deny his talent but I admire far more the gentle poet, singer, music writer Georges Brassens. And some songs can be adapted very well for different artists, i.e. ” I want you ” sang by Madonna and Robert Palmer. I simply love both equally.

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