Monthly Archives: September 2012

Ce n’est pas un Imbécile

Got an inspiration a month ago to write a song in the style of Kraftwerk singing in French with the snap of INXS. It was going to be euro-fabulous, sexy, sensual, and in French. The problem here being that I do not know French. I know a few swear words, but that’s the extent. I’ve made a stab at doing some guided automatic translation with Google Translate, and have gotten results that I’m halfway comfortable with. But it’s an automatic translation; I have no idea if Google’s translator software is aware of subtleties and nuances in the language to make the best phrasing and choices. At least it rhymes. Sort of.

The problem is that I have no idea if what I’m intending to sing will, in fact, make me sound like an idiot to any French speakers who may hear it. So I’ve considered borrowing the services of someone to help me translate and craft the lyrics, correct me where I’m wrong, and help me learn to pronounce it suitably. Therein lies the problem. It’s just a song. It’s just my song. It’s not important enough to warrant paying a trained translator, or even bothering a helpful friend, to help me write my little song. That’s how I feel now, after weeks of waffling between holding back cautiously and plowing forward with abandon. I should just do it and damn the torpedoes, but I really, really shouldn’t. And there’s the problem.

I listen to a lot of music from bands whose first language is obviously not English. I love that sound, the sound of “otherness”, that a foreign tongue places on my language. It’s interesting. But English is a very, very forgiving language. The French? I’ve no idea how forgiving they are to a non-native trying to speak their language. Would they appreciate the effort? Would they like the “otherness” that an uncultured American rube can put in their delicate voice? There’s a ton of well-meaning stuff on the Net that goes viral because the general public chooses to lampoon the hell out of it. I don’t want to be that target.

But should I even fucking care? It’s just a Glass Door song. It will never win any Grammys.

Here’s what I may end up doing: take the English source text, sing that. Use bits of French throughout, mostly in the choruses. Sure, that will diminish most of the mystique of the song, destroy the worldliness, possibly even kill the sensuality, but if I sound like un imbécile, at least it will be because I actually sound like one because of stupid lyrics instead of the untrained recitation of same in a foreign language. I don’t know what I’ll do eventually, but what I do know is that this is just one more quandary that’s killing my joy of making music. If I have questions, what-ifs, unknowns, technical problems, then all my enthusiasm is right out the window with the wash.

Henry Wordsworthless Longsuffering

Even in my booze-fueled state, I’ve made a sobering realization that most of the poetry I wrote in the 90’s is absolute shit. We’re talking creepy, sketchy, pedestrian. Wow. Damn. I mean even if it were to be put into context, what the fuck was I thinking? I mean I was in my 20’s, and trying to figure shit out, and trying to move myself forward while sitting in the darkness of my bedroom hunched over a notebook, but it all comes out so dirty, so adolescent, so junior high. I shouldn’t be glad I stopped writing, but really that’s just causing more problems than solving. I need to write more, a lot more, so I can get better. Shit, any blathering nonsense is better than radio silence. But do I have to produce so much low-quality dirt?

Update: Yeah, I know I’m being a little too hard on myself. I’ll grant that. Yes, among the piles of rock I mined, there were a few real jewels. I just need to keep chiseling to find the mineral vein that will lead me to the motherlode. And as far as “creepy” goes, there are musicians who’ve made millions on lyrics that, when held up to the light, reveal ten different shades of wrong (The Toadies, The Doors, and Weezer come to mind).