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||It's only rock 'n roll, n'est pas?
by Mad Dog
French friend of mine once translated the song's moanings for me, including one that says,
"Come. Come between by kidneys." It's no wonder the English version of the song
was never popular.
|| The French have done it again. No, they haven't posthumously re-elected
Charles de Gaulle as President, though judging by the current state of affairs over there
it wouldn't be surprising. Or a bad idea. Rather, in their quest to maintain that much
admired Gaulish purity and thigh-quivering sexy accent, the government has moved to
eliminate non-French music from the airwaves. Okay, they haven't banned it completely, but
they did declare that from now on 40 percent of the music played on the radio must be in
This won't be easy. It's a bit like the NBA declaring
that 40 percent of the starting basketball players have to be Oriental. Face it, the
French haven't turned out a major recording artist since 1963 when the Singing Nun (not to
be confused with the Flying Nun) recorded "Dominique" a swingy little tune that
took the world by storm because everyone could sing along in French and feel worldly, wise
and incredibly urbane in a way they hadn't since "Frere Jacques" supplanted
"Row, Row, Row Your Boat" as their group sing-along of choice.
Okay, there was another. There was a song in 1969 called
"Je T'aime" which, like all good French songs, was a sing-along, and a popular
one at that, since the lyrics largely consisted of orgasmic moaning, a mode of expression
which was just coming into its own in the United States thanks to the burgeoning sexual
revolution. (In an interesting etymological sidelight, a French friend of mine once
translated the song's moanings for me, including one that says, "Come. Come between
by kidneys." It's no wonder the English version of the song was never popular. Who
wants to be sitting in the Sheep Large With Man's Child pub drinking a pint of stout and
eating a steak and kidney pie and be subjected to lyrics like that?)
The recently striking transport workers were joined by postal and utility employees and,
just so they wouldn't have to recite "La plume de ma tante" one more time,
university students walked out too.
|| "Of course
the French are rejecting our music," you're probably saying right now, startling the
homeless guy next to you who's using his copy of this newspaper for a blanket. "Don't
they continually try to purge everything English from their language?" Yes they do.
As anyone who's seen "Pulp Fiction" knows--not to mention those who haven't seen
it but have been subjected to the repetition of this scene ad nauseam whenever their
friends have had more than three beers--in France a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is known
as a "Royale With Cheese", a Big Mac is called "Le Big Mac" and since
John Travolta didn't go into a Burger King no one in this country has any idea what they
call a Whopper.
Do we go and ban French from our language? Of
course not. This is America, the fondue pot of the world. That's why Miss Piggy is free to
say moi whenever she chooses, yuppies say "I'm tres busy" without
fear of reprisal and we all say croissant, safe in the knowledge that not only do
we feel stupid trying to say the word, but that it's constitutionally guaranteed that not
one of us is pronouncing it correctly.
Maybe we should retaliate by boycotting anything French. Don't
order french fries for a week. Put ranch dressing on your salad instead of bleu cheese or
french dressing. And this summer Just Say No to french cut bathing suits. Okay, maybe
that's going a little too far.
The French would appreciate our boycott, since they've been
known to go out on strike at the drop of a beret. The recently striking transport workers
were joined by postal and utility employees and, just so they wouldn't have to recite
"La plume de ma tante" one more time, university students walked out too. This
points out another important difference between France and the United States: their
government gets shuts down by the workers, ours is shut down by the politicians.
The French parliament is struggling with the question of whether "Michelle" by
the Beatles should be allowed to be played, since although part of it's in French, it was
sung by Englishmen .
|| So now the French
have been hit with a double whammy. Not only is no one working, but they now have to
listen to Charles Boyer singing "Thank Heaven For Little Girls" 24-hours a day.
While this doesn't seem quite Cordon Kosher Bleu because the lyrics are in English, the
fact is it's sung by a Frenchman, which is easier for them to digest than another Coq au
Vin avec Coquilles St. Frere Jacques. But it gets messier. Right this minute the French
parliament is struggling with the question of whether "Michelle" by the Beatles
should be allowed to be played, since although part of it's in French, it was sung by
Englishmen with funny haircuts who recently reunited in spite of the fact that one of them
has been dead for years.
There's a simple solution to this
problem, other than to take away their baguettes (French for "too big to fit in a
bag") until they learn to behave, listen to other people's music, do their homework
and clean their rooms. The French love Jerry Lewis, right? And Jim Carrey think's he's
Jerry Lewis, right? So what do you say we give them Jim Carrey as long as they agree to
play Mariah Carey?
Henry Kissenger would be proud of me. N'est pas?
©1996 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. But
not in France.