Music on the train

Lyric (from the Dears, Ballad of Humankindness) that struck a chord with me on the train today:

And I turn on the news
And there’s always some dude
Who’s relentlessly bringing me down,
Telling me how there are too many dark people out there who’ll never be found.

Words and meaning

Some aimless wandering on the web, via the BBC World Service theme tune “Lillibullero”, leads me to the Ulster protestant folk song, The Protestant Boys (which is sung to the same tune).

Reading the lyrics, I’m struck by how we forget the meaning of old lyrics very easily. I doubt that most people would feel comfortable singing the Protestant Boys, with verses like:

When treason was rampant and traitors were strong
And law was defied by a vile rebel throng
When thousands were banded the throne to cast down
The Protestants rallied and stood by the Crown
And oft in fight, by day and night
They countered the rebels in many a fray
Where red pikes were bristling
And bullets were whistling
The Protestant Boys still carried the day.

But so much of that discomfort is due to Protestant-Catholic violence being still fresh in our minds. Tony Blair happily sings:

The people’s flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts blood dyed its every fold.

And Jacques Chirac will at least mouth along to:

Aux armes, citoyens !
Formez vos bataillons !
Marchons ! marchons !
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !

Even though the ancient enmities are preserved, like Jurassic DNA, in the amber of the lyrics.

Joe Strummer on Plastic Bertrand

“I don’t like saying, “You’re a punk and you’re not.”

There was a record out there called “Ca Plane pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand, right? And I guarantee you if I had to play it for you right now you’d go, “Right! That is rockin!”

Now, if you were to say to any sort of purist punk, “This is a good punk record,” they’d get completely enraged. But Plastic Bertrand, whoever he was, compressed into that three minutes a bloody good record that will get any comatose person toe-tapping, you know what I mean?

By purist rules, it’s not allowed to even mention Plastic Bertrand. Yet, this record was probably a lot better than a lot of so-called punk records.”


Welsh national anthem

Paul Flynn provides illustrations for a phonetic version of the Welsh national anthem:

My hen laid a haddock, one hand oiled a flea,
Glad farts and centurions threw dogs in the sea,
I could stew a hare here and brandish Dan’s flan,
Don’s ruddy bog’s blocked up with sand.

Dad ! Dad! Why don’t you oil Auntie Glad ?
Can whores appear in beer bottle pies,
O butter the hens as they fly !

And here (mp3) is the real thing.

Uitmarkt 2006

In Amsterdam for Uitmarkt 2006 – the sort of open-access culture that Amsterdam does really well. It’s a three-day preview of the year’s forthcoming events, from classical music, through books to theatre. We had a great time at the singalong event for the year’s forthcoming musicals – a mix of Anglo and Dutch stuff ranging from Annie to a musical apparently about the Dutch navy (it wasn’t clear, but Dutch flags were a big feature).

One of the forthcoming Dutch musicals was called “Wat Zien Ik?” (What do I see?), which I remember only for its rather catchy number “Het Café van Bet”. It’s about a hooker’s life in the red light district of Amsterdam, but the musical turns out to be an adaptation of a play by Albert Mol. It was turned into a 1971 film (English title: Business is Business), directed by a young Paul Verhoeven, who later went on to direct Showgirls, Basic Instinct and RoboCop.