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May 10, 2004

La Marseillaise?

Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac informs us that today is the anniversary of Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle's birth. Who he? Well, he wrote the French national anthem, better known as La Marseillaise. It was originally entitled Chant de guerre de l'armeƩ du Rhin, which means "War Song of the Army of the Rhine."

Musically, i think the Marseillaise is one of the most inspiring national anthems ever written (i think the Internationale is quite rousing too, even though i hate communism as much as i hate the French). i get goose bumps watching that scene from Casablanca in Rick's bar when the Frenchies try to drown out the Nazis by singing their anthem. But i never knew what the words meant until now.

Garrison Keillor says that the Marseillaise's lyrics "are filled with some of the most bloody and violent imagery of any national anthem." i guess he's referring to lines like this:

The bloody flag is raised,
The bloody flag is raised.

. . .

They come right into our arms
To cut the throats of your sons,

. . .

Let us march, Let us march!
That their impure blood
Should water our fields

It's also full of typical bombastic French arrogance and ethnocentrism: "Qu'un sang impur?" Gimme a break.

The Writer's Almanac also notes that on this day in 1994, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated president of South Africa. There follows a pretty glowing bio of President Mandela, but read this AP story if you don't mind your heroes having feet of clay.

Posted by annika, May. 10, 2004 |
Rubric: History


Go ahead, admit it, Annika. From the Internationale to the Dixie Chicks, we lefties have ALL the good songs!

Posted by: Hugo on May. 10, 2004

Pardon me, but when did the Dixie Chicks record a good song? I'm sure I'd have heard about this 180' change in their material. I mean after their mediocre (at best) cover of Landslide I'd hope they'd be repentent enough to do the right thing, but I had no idea it came to fruition.

But other than the Dixie Chicks & Willie Nelson (now that's a performer with talent) I can't think of anyone in country music who is a lefty.

But assuming you're talking quality rather than personal preference I'll see your Dixie Chicks & raise you one Lynyrd Skynyrd (yes I know they're not country but the southern rock genre is all but dead [Drivin' & Cryin' may have been the last band that came close - if you doubt me check out their song Honeysuckle Blue]& most people nowadays would label them as country rock). They may very well have been Democrats, but they were Southern Democrats & not lefties by any stretch. & any one of the Van Zandt brothers (or their back-up singers for that matter) had more talent in their individual lower intestines than the Dixie Chicks possess collectively going back a generation or two. Name one Dixie Chicks song that even comes close to the simplistic beauty of Tuesday's Gone or the odl time nuance of Things Goin' On. & how many people do you know that, 30 years after its release, will flick their bics in unison & sing along loudly (& correctly) to a Dixie Chics song being played instrumentally?

& be thankful I don't call on the name of Bocephus or Merle or The Possum. Democrats they all may be but if they are it's a helluva lot closer to the Zell Miller kind of Democrat than the Kucinich kind.

I'll grant that a lot of good performers & artists lean Democrat, but in the country & southern rock genres they are definitely in the minority.

heh :D

(when I say they may have been democrats I'm merely conceding the possibility that they may have been democrats. I have no idea as to their political leanings, except to note a few who are pro-Right to Arms or anti-Right to Arms.)

Posted by: Publicola on May. 10, 2004

Many years ago, there was a summer where the frogs considered changing the lyrics of their anthem from the blood-soaked gore it has to something a little more friendly. I remember reading one submission that started, Oh, how lucky we are to be French! and the rest of it sounded like something written by Up With People. It might as well have been I'd like to teach the world to sing/In perfect harmony...

Can you imagine the Nazis in Rick's Cafe hearing that? They would've laughed their asses off.

Posted by: Victor on May. 11, 2004

On another note, I've finally heard the tripe that is L'Internationale. Figures it was originally written in surrender-monkian.

You can find a brief history of it, along with a circa 30's recording, right here.

Posted by: Victor on May. 11, 2004

Country artists against the war? I'll give you my three fave lefties, and their music cred is top notch

1. Emmylou Harris, quite simply a goddess. I love love love her.
2. Steve Earle
3. Lucinda Williams

All listed at http://www.moveon.org/musiciansunited/

Posted by: Hugo Schwyzer on May. 11, 2004

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