Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Songs that need a German word to describe them

The closer my "professional" life ("career" is just as ridiculous - what would you call it?), gets to limping off the starting blocks in the direction of the minimum wage, the shitter this blog becomes, as I spend ever increasing amounts of time doing precisely nothing except sitting in front of my computer, snacking and cursing and doing a fair amount of the third of this brilliant, brilliant list. I must stop the rot, somehow (possibly by dint of such ambitious projects as: leaving the house and talking to other humans) but I sure as hell won't be starting tonight, when the rot seems to have settled in around my brain.

Instead, tonight I find myself thinking about songs you surprise yourself by knowing the words to. I don't mean songs that you consciously listen to, love, that are part of your conscious musical universe. Or indeed songs that you hate with the heat of a thousand suns, but get so much radio play you can't avoid knowing them. I mean the ones that only emerge astonishingly word perfect when you accidentally hear them, as if they have been living perfectly preserved in a time capsule somewhere in the recesses of your brain. Does this happen to you? I keep getting it, and I think it's another thing that there should be a word for. Germans? Can you see to it please?

My recent ones:


You Go To My Head, Frank Sinatra

I heard this one in the Eurostar terminal at Bruxelles Midi just before Christmas and couldn't stop myself from mouthing along with it. A good twenty year gap, I reckon, since I last heard it.

You go to my head,
With a smile that makes my temperature rise
Like a summer with a thousand Julys,
You intoxicate my soul with your eyes..

It instantly made me think of my dad, because this is my him, driving around the Dales. I am, depending on my age, either staring out of the window pretending to be riding a horse across the fields, staring out of the window trying not to be carsick, or staring out of the window wondering if startlingly blue-eyed sixth form thespian Ian Chisholm will ever notice me (he won't). We are off on some horrendous walk, of course, a four hour forced march across some far flung bog with only a packet of Rolos to keep me going. The Rolos will be in my father's rucksack. My father will be a very long way ahead of me, barely visible through the gloom. As I approach, he will take the Rolos out and waggle them enticingly, then stride off again. Bastard. My dad likes a bit of Frank. Our other car artistes are, variously, The Beatles, Crystal Gayle (I suspect, but have not been able to test this theory, that I know a great deal of Crystal Gayle deep down in my lizard brain), Nat King Cole and Kris Kirstofferson. Mozart - Clarinet Flute, and Flute and Harp concertos only - occasionally gets a look in. (By contrast, Prog Rock's car artistes, were: Bob Marley, Dylan, Tom Waits, Little Feat, JJ Cale and The Blues Band. I know, not Prog Rock at all, it's a total misnomer, but it suits him.)



Ask, The Smiths

A few months ago, clicking on some internet link, sitting on the floor in my dad's spare bedroom.

Spending warm summer days indoors
Writing frightening verse
To a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg

I just stopped listening to The Smiths entirely at some point, I think when I left for France at 18. Big mistake, since all they had to offer me in return was, what? At that time, Alain Souchon, Francis Cabrel, Mylène Farmer. (Actually, that's still pretty much all they have, sorry France. Yeah, yeah, Phoenix, BB Brunes, I know. But still). Anyway, hearing that opening guitar intro took me right back to my attic bedroom in St John Street in York, and I wept (I didn't really) my contrition to Johnny Marr and Morrissey for abandoning them for ponderous French singer-songwriters.

Actually, the last of these weirdly memorised songs is precisely the kind of decadent nonsense I took up when I abandoned Johnny Marr:


L'Eau à la Bouche, Serge Gainsbourg

Je te veux confiante je te sens captive,
Je te veux docile, je te sens craintive,
Je t'en prie ne sois pas farouche
Quand me vient l'eau à la bouche.

I heard this in H&M today. They had a very peculiar selection on indeed, but this one - and vast swathes of Gainsbourg - are fixed in my head forever, it seems. I mean, I knew about some of them. I have L'Anamour on my ipod, and I know all the words to Le Poinçonneur des Lilas simply because it's ace. But this one arose, ghostly, straight out of a tape made for me by one of the CFO's friends on the day I left Normandy to go back to the UK and start university after, I dunno, 9 months or something. I remember they stayed up all night with me, because my flight, or train was at some stupid hour of the morning. I remember she was pregnant, the first person I had ever known as a friend, who was having a baby. That baby is 16 now, brrrr, the tape is long, long lost as is the Renault Clio I used to listen to it in, but it's all in here.


Ok, your turn. Songs mysteriously lodged in your brain for all eternity, and/or songs played repeatedly on car trips by your parents. Excuse me, I have to urgently go and download 'Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night' now.

22 comments:

Nicky said...

That's Amore, Dean Martin. Not just word perfect, intonation perfect, heaven help me. Worse, I have no. idea. why.

Lizzie said...

Good lord, you took me back in time. Mine was that Mozart in the 1970s that topped the charts for weeks on end. We had to suffer it on trips out, with luncheon meat sandwiches in the back of my father's jaguar (walnut pull down tables DON'T SPILL ANYTHING!) and then he would stop at a pub on the way back while he and Mrs Carrol (his affair) would go inside and we'd be brought out a pub pineapple juice and a packet of crisps.

soleils said...

Mysteriously lodged in my brain for all eternity (too many to mention, when I think about it):
99 Luftballons by Nena.
I'm sticking with you by The Velvet Underground
Pump up the jam by whoever it was
Les cactus by Jacques Dutronc
C'est comme ça by Les Rita Mitsouko

Tunes my parents played in the car during the very long trip from France to their native Galicia most summers: entire tapes of El Fary, Manolo Escobar, Juan Pardo, amongst others. My siblings and I invariably fell into a hot torpor (this is way before air-conditioned cars) and desperately tried to fall asleep.

Waffle said...

Lizzie, I bloody loved sitting in pub "gardens" with the crisps and Coke. It was the absolute best bit of childhood. Especially if they were Seabrook crisps. And then you could take the packet home and shrink it in the oven. Don't pretend you didn't do that too, I know you did.

Waffle said...

Soleils! I share several of those, notably:

Je veux pas t'abandonner mon bébé,
Je ne veux pas t'achever tu saaiiiiiis
C'est comme ça aa aa a a a

etc etc etc


Also: Les Cactus. Word perfect. I can also do: J'aime Les Filles AND Il est 5 heures. Chanson française tragedo-nerd that I was.

soleils said...

Oooohh, I love! What about Marcia Baila?
C'est la mort qui t'a assassinée Marcia, c'est la mort qui t'a emmené-é-é-ée... OUA OUA, etc.

AND, gasp, Alexandrie... Alexandra!(campy tiger claws), this one CLEARLY due to the fact that it is impossible to attend any sort of party in France without being subjected to its pre-eurodisco cheesiness.

Also, "Loser" by Beck.

But still traumatised by the duet by Manolo Escobar and his small girl, inflicted to us by my parents on numerous occasions, and which went "Papa, papa... te quieeeero mucho" "Cariño mío, y yoooo a ti más". Bloddy hell. Massive earworm.

This is fun!
(much more than trying to meet a work deadline)

Waffle said...

OH GOD Soleil. We should take this offline as the corporate wankers say. Yes. Alexandrie, Bateau sur le Niiiil the CFO could even do the whole tiger claws routine, as featured IN MY SIDEBAR.

soleils said...

Oh God, I am NOT going to watch that now. But man, it's in your side bar, I will have to give in to temptation sooner or later. It will be like being teleported to one of many cringy yet hilarious (grâce au vin) weddings and being a total Claudette, and then I will want La Macarena and YMCA. And that would just be embarrassing.
Um, OK, Mala Vida (Mano Negra). Me Gustas Tú (Manu Chao). Better.
MAKE ME STOP!

Bryony said...

all too much... pubs, crisps and lemonade....am crying as I type

Downtown by Petula Clark - I thought it was about Dartford where we lived at the time. Still stops me in my tracks.

Strangers in the Night, Frankie boy - my dad used to sing it to my v sick baby sister (she's now 43)

Lady Madonna, Beatles - my youngest son has been a Beatles fan since he was 1 and used to beg for this one. He's still a fan at 13.

off to cry some more - and get Crystal Gale (Don' it make my brown eyes blue) out of my head.

Bx

Miss Underscore said...

The Style Council: Long Hot Summer. I was in love with Weller and was enchanted with the Brideshead inspired video that showed them messing around on a sun dappled river. I mourned the fact that no boys in the colliery where I lived wore oxblood loafers, cream slacks and blazers. Donkey jackets and Coal not Dole badges just didn't do it for me. Sigh.

I still love that song though, although my respect for Weller has diminished over time. I recently named him 'Fanny Rat of the Month' on my blog.

Mrs Jones said...

I've lived in Surrey for 43 of my 47 years - one set of grandparents lived in Holmes Chapel in Cheshire, the other in Eastbourne in E Sussex. In the 60s and 70s, car journeys were very VERY long, but we were quite fancy and had cars with cassette players in them as soon as they came out.

My younger brother and I can still sing along to a huge quantity of Glenn Campbell songs which were, thinking about it, all utterly fantastic - Wichita Linesman, Galveston, By the time I get to Phoenix, Rhinestone Cowboy and the incomparable Dreams of the Everyday Housewife. Similarly, there was a Simon and Garfunkel tape and the Don McLean album 'American Pie'.

I have one of those brains that soaks up lyrics practically the first time they hear them so I remember all these. I think the first songs I can remember singing along to with perfect words were Downtown by Petula Clark, Hey There Georgie Girl by the Seekers and Michelle by the Beatles although I mangled the French bit. I've just looked these up and it seems it was 1966 and I was 3 or 4. All such a long time ago now.

frau antje said...

Here, straight from the ancestral family home in Kent(ucky).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0aT0GXW8jw
No, not my home, that was more along the lines of where the eights go east and the fives go north. Tom Waits was in my big brother's boy scout troop. They've gone and installed a Pain Quotidien in my absence.

kai said...

E! there is a word already, it's 'Ohrwurm'http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earworm

cruella said...

Quite a few Beatles songs and obscure Swedish kiddie pop from the early eighties *shudder*

Husband can throw an impressive amount of English music hall tunes as sung by his granny - impressive because since the age of 15 he has been unable to memorize pretty much anything.

Anonymous said...

I am renown for getting lyrics -- the ones I THINK I can remember -- horrendously wrong. We're still trying to figure out where "weasels in the mist" came from. (It wasn't Kansas.)
Still, every time I hear Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat", I'm back in a tiny compact car winding around the mountainous roads in Maui with my not yet husband...ah me.

Pat (in Belgium)

WV aededda (sounds like the chorus from something...)

irretrievablybroken said...

Apparently I know every single word to "American Pie". Still. I hope my tombstone has room for all of them.

JJ said...

Pretty much anything by John Denver. My mother used to listen to him constantly and at top volume. We would hear it in the house when she pulled the car into the garage.

Also, I know every twist and turn of The Music Box Dancer.

momosyllabic said...

Fee--ed the Woo-orld, Let them know it's Christmas time.
Etc.
Sigh.

Alienne said...

I heard Melting Pot by Blue Mink on the radio the other day driving home, and found I was able to sing along to the whole song. Word perfect. I have done the subliminal brainwashing bit on my kids - they will always be able to sing all the words to Freaker's Ball by Dr Hook. We used to play it in the car all the time when they were small and they loved singing along. It is only recently that it has dawned on them what the lyrics are about. Apparently I am A Shit Mother.

Margaret said...

"Hopelessly Devoted to You" from Grease. I wasn't allowed to see it when it was released since it was R-rated and I wasn't 17 and my parents hated me and wanted to completely ruin my social life. Every single one of my friends saw that movie. I fought back against this clear injustice by buying and memorizing the album. Of course, a year later, we'd all moved on. Fast-forward several decades. My husband and I are listening to the radio in the car and this song comes on. I remembered it perfectly, even belting out the bridge just like Olivia. Horrified amazement from the husband. Because he's hopelessly devoted...to...mee-ee-ee.

Anonymous said...

Car Journeys up and down the A1 with my parents were always accompanied by ELO's Time Album from its issue (1979ish?) and it always made my little brother cry. I still love the album and inflict it on my kids when travelling up the A1 now, but my brother still hates it. Also I appear to know the words to every Beatles song , again through endless hours on the A1, which always amazes people when the really obscure ones come on the radio and I join in.

Val said...

My son is inflicting 80's nostalgia on me since he has discovered Journey: "Don't Stop...Be-LEEEEE-ving"
I thought he would toss his iPod out the window when I screamed "STEVE PERRY!!!"

but seriously: "staring out of the window pretending to be riding a horse across the fields" - I still do this on long drives...