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‘In the Orbit of Ra’: New Sun Ra collection curated by Arkestra saxophonist Marshall Allen
09.23.2014
08:08 am

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Sun Ra
Marshall Allen


 
Sun Ra might need little introduction to many readers of this blog, I’d expect, so I’ll keep this brief: Sun Ra was once Herman Blount from Alabama except that he was always Sun Ra from the planet Saturn. He was a jazz bandleader and visionary whose career spanned the ragtime and free jazz eras, during which he dove deep into the avant garde, forming a band (“Arkestra”) that was as much a commune as a musical group. His work touched heavily on, among many other things, African/Egyptian themes, outer space, Kabbalism, and Gnosticism. Ra’s music, lifestyle, beliefs and personality were far too esoteric for anything even remotely like mainstream acceptance to find him, but he nonetheless recorded prolifically, and brought a heavy influence to bear on psychedelia and funk. Just last year, he came to somewhat wider public attention when Lady Gaga heavily quoted his “Rocket Number 9” in her single “Venus.”

Sun Ra left us in 1993, but had he lived, 2014 would have been his 100th year. His still-living stalwart saxophonist Marshall Allen continues, at the age of 90, to lead the Arkestra, and he’s recently compiled a collection for Strut Records, spanning 25 years of Sun Ra Arkestra music, remastered from the original tapes, and it’s being touted as “the first internationally released compilation to provide an introduction to the music of Sun Ra.” It’s called In the Orbit of Ra, and the CD and digital are out this week. (Those of us who prefer vinyl apparently have to wait until October. Boo.) An admirable lid has been kept on its contents—only one remastered track is available for streaming, the late ‘50s composition “Plutonian Nights:”
 

 
New mini-documentary on Sun Ra after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Badass woman on motorcycle f*cks with litterbugs BIG TIME!
09.16.2014
09:09 am

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Amusing
Environment
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littering


 
As someone points out in the comments on reddit, it’s almost as if this is some new kind of female superhero archetype. A leather clad woman (you can’t see what she’s wearing in the video. I’m using my imagination here) who rides a motorcycle and schools assholes who litter.

It’s pretty hardcore what she does. I wouldn’t recommend doing this in real life although I wish more people would.

Next we need a superhero who fucks with assholes who text and drive. Your Facebook update can wait, moron. You know who you are.

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Philip K. Dick on sex between humans and androids
09.10.2014
08:22 am

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Heroes
Literature

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Philip K. Dick
Blade Runner
philosophy


 
In 1981, Philip K. Dick discussed the ideas and themes behind his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in an interview with author Paul M. Sammon. Dick’s novel about a hired assassin (Rick Deckard) paid to eliminate escaped androids formed the basis for Ridley Scott’s classic science-fiction film Blade Runner. The story had its genesis in research for his novel The Man in the High Castle. Dick studied psychological studies on the mentality of the Germans who became Nazis and read how these Germans were often highly intelligent but emotionally “so defective that the word human could not properly be applied” to them.

This led Dick to a philosophical investigation into “the problem of differentiating the authentic human being from the reflex machine I call an android.” 

For me the word ‘android’ is a metaphor for people who are physiologically human but psychologically behaving in a non-human way.

This was a subject Dick discussed in a lecture on “The Android and the Human” in 1972:

...an android means, as I said, to allow oneself to become a means, or to be pounded down, manipulated, made into a means without one’s consent—the results are the same. But you cannot turn a human into an android if that human is going to break laws every chance he gets. Androidization requires obedience. And, most of all, predictability. It is precisely when a given person’s response to any given situation can be predicted with scientific accuracy that the gates are open for the wholesale production of the android life form.

 
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Philip K. Dick.
 
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Dick developed the idea of “androidization” further when he considered what would happen in a war between humans and androids—would humans become more android-like if they won?

This emotional interplay between humans and androids was also examined in the relationship between Deckard and the android Rachael Rosen, which Dick discussed in “Notes on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” (1968):

And this brings up the whole underlying subject: sexual relations between humans and androids. What is it like? What does it mean? Is it, for instance, like going to bed with a real woman? Or is it an awful, nightmarish, bad trip, where what is dead and inert seems alive and warm and capable of the most acute intimacy known to living creatures? Isn’t this, this sexual union between Rick Deckard and Rachael Rosen—isn’t it the summa of falsity and mechanical motions carried out minus any real feeling, as we understand the word? Feeling on each of their parts. Does in fact her mental—and physical—coldness numb the male, the human man, into an echo of it?

...[Deckard’s] relationship, by having intercourse with her, has melded him to—not an individual, human or android—but to a whole type or model, of which theoretically, there could be tens of thousands. To whom, then, has he really given his erotic libido?

...Here, I think, the crucial questions of What is reality? and What is illusion? come up strongly….The more Rick strives to force her to become a woman—or, more accurately, to play the role of a woman—the more he encounters the core of the unlife within her…his attempt to make love to her as a woman for him is defeated by the tireless core of her electronic being.

Dick postulates that the failure of their lovemaking “may be vital in his determination—and success—in destroying the last of these andys.”

In this interview, Dick discusses some of these key questions about what is reality? what is human?
 

 
Thomas M. Disch once said that his friend Philip K. Dick liked to play-up the image of the hard-done-to artist, struggling in the garret, living off ground-up horse meat (which supposedly led Dick to translate his name into “Horselover Fat”—Philip Greek for horse lover, Dick German for fat), but things were never really that bad. However, he agreed America gave short-shrift to speculative science-fiction writers, and was grateful for the adulation and serious critical appraisal both received in Europe.

In 1977, Philip K. Dick was interviewed for French television where he discussed the problems of being a speculative science-fiction writer in America, as well as many of the philosophical ideas behind his works.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Red Headed Card Shark: Card Tricks with Willie Nelson
08.19.2014
09:22 am

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Willie Neslon


 
It doesn’t get any better than watching Willie Nelson working some fancy card wizardry on his sister, Bobbie Lee Nelson.

I’ve watched this video twice now, and I still can’t figure out how in the hell he’s able to do this.

What can’t Willie Nelson do? Amazing!

 
via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘The General Erection’: John Lennon reads from ‘A Spaniard in the Works’
08.18.2014
01:42 pm

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John Lennon
A Spaniard in the Works

lennonspaniardworks.jpg
 
John Lennon reads “The General Erection” from his second book of collected (nonsense) writing A Spaniard in the Works:

Azure orl gnome, Harrassed Wilsod won the General Erection with a very small marjorie over the Totchies. Thus pudding the Labouring Partly into powell after a large abcess. This he could not have done withoutspan the barking of thee Trade Onions, heady by Frenk Cunnings (who noun has a SAFE SEAT in Nuneating thank you and Fronk (only 62) Bowells hasn’t.)

This is Lennon’s version of the 1964 UK General Election, when Harold Wilson became Prime Minister with a very small…. you get the picture.

With his first book In My Own Write, Lennon had been feted as a modern Edward Lear with his nonsense tales and inventive Joycean puns. The book’s success saw Lennon invited to a Foyle’s Literary Lunch at the Dorchester Hotel, where he famously failed to deliver a speech only saying:

Er, thank you all very much, and God bless you.

Many (snobs) consider Lennon’s failure to entertain for his dinner as a dreadful snub, though of course it wasn’t—he had turned up expecting to eat, not speak.

As his then-wife Cynthia Lennon later explained in her memoir A Twist of Lennon, the happy couple had been out the night before and were very hungover when they arrived at the Dorchester:

We did our best to make ourselves presentable, but the bloodshot eyes and shaky hands were a bit of a giveaway. We told ourselves that the event would soon be over and we could go home to collapse.

What neither of us had realized was that the media would be there in force and that John was expected to make a speech. Doyens of the literary establishment rubbed shoulders with upmarket Lennon fans and everyone was waiting with bated breath to hear the words of the ‘intelligent’ Beatle.

As we were ushered through the lobby of the Dorchester, hordes of press and TV crews following us, I knew John wanted to turn and run, but we had to keep smiling. We couldn’t even see what was going on properly because neither of us was wearing our glasses.

When we walked into the enormous dining room hundreds of people stood up and applauded. We fumbled our way to our places and found we were at opposite ends of the top table, denied even the reassurance of squeezing hands. I was sitting between the Earl of Arran and pop singer Marty Wilde, who was almost as nervous as I was. I was terrified, until the earl put me at ease with a string of witty stories and friendly chat. I even began to enjoy myself - until we reached the last course and dozens of TV and press cameras were pointed in our direction. “What’s going on?” I whispered to the earl.

“I believe your husband is about to give a speech,” he whispered back, and politely averted his eyes from the horror written on my face. I looked at John and my heart went out to him. He was ashen and totally unprepared. Never lost for words in private, a public speech was beyond him - let alone to a crowd of literary top dogs, and especially with a hangover.

As John was introduced silence fell. The weight of expectation was enormous. John, more terrified than I’d ever seen him, got to his feet. He managed eight words, “Thank you very much, it’s been a pleasure,” then promptly sat down again. There was a stunned silence, followed by a few muted boos and a smattering of applause. The audience was disappointed, annoyed and indignant. Both John and I wished we were on another planet. John tried to make up for it by signing endless copies of the book afterward.

John’s Foyle’s “speech” went down in history as a typical Lennon gesture, a snub to the establishment from a pop star rebel, when it was anything but. He had panicked.

Undeterred, Lennon followed up In His Own Write with a second volume of comic nonsensical tales A Spaniard in the Works in 1965.

As Lennon explains in this seldom seen clip from the BBC’s Tonight program, he had always been a writer, long before he picked up a guitar or joined a band. His second reading is “The Wumberlog (or The Magic Dog)” which begins:

Whilst all the tow was sleepy
Crept a little boy from his bed
To fained the wondrous peoble
Wot lived when they were dead

The interviewer is Kenneth Allsop, and the interview was broadcast on June 18th, 1965.
 

 
A selection of Lennon’s drawings and poems after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Bukowski, it’s going to be sickening’: Charles Bukowski uncensored and animated
08.14.2014
12:44 pm

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Animation
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Charles Bukowski


 
A candid conversation between Charles Bukowski, his then-wife Linda Lee Beighle and his co-producer John Runnette (the one asking the questions) from the 1993 Run With The Hunted recording session. Although this is just a short snippet of a conversation, it’s a perfect moment that reveals so much about the writer’s private self, which, in fact, doesn’t seem all that different from the version of himself that he presented in his autobiographical novels. I suppose imbibing as much alcohol as Buk did on a daily basis might erase that public/private dividing line quite a bit!

Bukowski: I just don’t love my stuff that much. You know what I’m interested in? What I’m going to type tomorrow night. That’s all that interests me… the next poem, the next fucking line. What’s past is past I don’t want to linger over it, and read it and play with it and jolly it up. it’s gone, it’s done. If you can’t write the next line, well, you’re dead. The past doesn’t matter.

~snip

Bukowski: I think my writing is really pretty fucking powerful stuff but I think after I’m dead and safe, they’re going to trot me out, I’m going to really be discovered you know.

Animation by HarperAudio.
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Mike Watt is still on the move with Il Sogno del Marinaio: an exclusive video premiere
08.12.2014
09:03 am

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Heroes
Music

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Mike Watt
Il Sogno del Marinaio


 
30 years ago, Minutemen bassist Mike Watt famously wrote “Our band could be your life” as the first line in the song “History Lesson—Part II.” That line would years later become the title of Michael Azerrad’s essential book on the ‘80s rock underground, so perfectly and succinctly did it capture the essence of how that decade’s punks flew in the face of notions that artists were delicately constituted monastics who’d gift us with dewdrops of beauty if we’d but wait at their feet. Watt and his contemporaries’ conception of the artist was much more radically workmanlike—he refers to it as “Jamming Econo”—you do what you have to do to get your art made, period. Gigs are why you exist, so you don’t decline or cancel them lightly. Oops, the next one’s a 15 hour drive? Better get the van loaded and grab some bottles to pee in, then, ‘cuz we’re going all night.

To his enduring credit, Watt has spent the last three decades fully living up to the example he set as a young man. Though a van accident tragically took the life of Minutemen guitarist D. Boon in 1985, Watt soldiered on in the bands fIREHOSE and Dos. He did guest turns with Saccharine Trust, Sonic/Ciccone Youth, Porno For Pyros, and countless others, and he launched a heavy-friends solo career in 1995 with the LP Ball-Hog or Tugboat?. He survived an alarming health crisis to stay active in the 21st Century, and was the lucky bastard who got tapped to fill the Dave Alexander slot when the Stooges reunited in 2003. He’s had an enviable career, because he just never stops.
 

 
In between all the bigger projects, Watt seems to be constantly forming and/or joining bands of various lifespans, a notable example of which is Il Sogno Del Marinaio (“The Sailor’s Dream”—nautical themes abound in Watt’s oeuvre) with Italian musicians Andrea Belfi and Stefano Pilia. The band formed in 2009 and recorded its debut album La Busta Gialla a mere three days later, but the album didn’t see release until 2013. In that long downtime, Belfi and Pilia invited guest musicians to fill out the LP, resulting in a collection of songs that are more constructed than performed. The forthcoming Canto Secondo remedies that—it’s clearly a band’s album, and it may surprise older Watt fans who haven’t kept up with him, as it often pushes into post-rock territory. There are strong notes of Gastr Del Sol, and some passages even recall The Sea and Cake or Red-era King Crimson. It’s really good stuff. Unfortunately, questions we emailed to Belfi and Pilia remain unanswered as of publication time, but Watt was kind enough to spare the time to speak with us about the band:

Watt: Stefano was in the boat with me in 2005 [Stefano Pilia was Watt’s road manager for part of a 2005 European tour. In keeping with Watt’s marine obsession, he refers to his tour van as “the boat.”—DM] and I didn’t even know he played. Then in 2009 I got an invite to come and play a festival with him and his drummer buddy Andrea. I said “OK, I’ll come over there, but why don’t we do five or six gigs, if we’re gonna get the stuff up?” I remember him, riding around with me for the Italian gigs, and he was really a neat cat, and I didn’t know he played, but he had the cojones to just call me up to start a band!

I try, getting into middle age, to record now as much as possible. I’m way into gigs, I’m still way about being in the moment, but I’m starting to think about leaving stuff behind a little more. So I say to him, “Look, we’re going to learn this stuff, we’re going to play a few gigs? In the middle of it, let’s record an album!” And they were into it, so we did it. It cooks, too, man—it cooks for me, everybody over there cooks for me. So that’s how that was made. We didn’t have it come out until we could tour. Different continents, three different schedules, so there was a three, four year lag between its being made and its coming out. So in the meantime, those cats had a bunch of guests play on it, and I sent some files from San Pedro. It was more like that, whereas the second one Canto Secondo, it was just the three of us in a farmhouse—actually the studio’s in a barn, we stayed in the farmhouse next to it—for eight days. Also, we had a tour under our belt, so the band’s got more of a voice of its own, more of an identity than on the first one that we made after three days! But you can only do your first album once, you know? We didn’t want a rerun of the first one, so this is more of an organic step.

You know, this band, I gotta tell ya, it feels a lot like going back to the Minutemen or Dos, there’s more collaboration. With these other bands, I’m asking my bandmates in the Secondmen, Missingmen, to take direction. In the Stooges, obviously they’re giving me direction. So this is like a revival of collaboration for me. These guys aren’t just players, they’re also composers. They’re 21 years younger, they went to music school, in a way I’m the student, which is all right, my middle aged philosophy is everybody’s got something to teach you! And Stefano and Andrea are pretty deep about music, they can do weird meters…

DM: Yeah, I’d be interested to know what they’re into. On Canto Secondo I hear a lot of post-rock influences in the guitar playing, like Pell Mell and Gastr Del Sol…

Watt: Do you know, those two guys play with [Gastr Del Sol honcho] David Grubbs! Weirdest coincidence—I was playing with Jim O’Rourke [also of GDS, among many, many other wonderful projects], and I end up in a band with the people playing with the other guy in Gastr Del Sol! They’re in a trio called Belfi/Grubbs/Pilia. So yeah, both guys are in Grubbs’ trio as well as playing with me. And I know Andrea’s way into Soft Machine and Robert Wyatt, too, and that’s from way before he was born. The young people these days are deep, they know a lot. Maybe because of the internet, but there’s also less prejudice. People are more open-minded. They don’t care what time it was from. When I was a teenager there was a lot of prejudice about when something came from. Like if it was older people wouldn’t want to hear it.

DM: Yeah, punk and hardcore had that whole “year zero” thing. I remember from the ‘80s—I’m younger than you, but I still remember that, like, tribalism. I think the internet helped some of that go away. Now that everything can be had all at once, things don’t have to be so tribal because those distinctions disappear. If you like something, cool, it doesn’t have to be the entire basis of your identity.

Watt: Yeah, and in the ‘70s it was narcissistic. No one wanted to hear anything five years old. I saw that Woodstock movie [unintelligible] and people were booing! “This is my DAD’S music!” People don’t do that anymore. That was a hung up generation. They weren’t really the movers and shakers of the ‘60s, but they were still pretty full of themselves ‘cuz they were still young and beautiful. Tribes, they can be kind of inbred. When I think about the old days of punk in the U.S., it was small, you could really circle the wagons! We were kind of tight that way, but on the other hand, all that branding, that idea that punk was a sound, a style of music instead of a state of mind—I thought yeah, that could improve. And it DID.

 

 
Il Sogno Del Marinaio’s Canto Secondo is due out in late August, 2014. The record will be supported by a tour of 53 shows in as many days. The new video from the album is called “Il Songo Del Fienile” (“Dream of the Barn,” I think), and we at DM are proud to debut it here.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Sonic Youth and Mike Watt vs Madonna
Mike Watt stars in new Sweet Apple video

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness’: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s

bluesdivaspospic.jpg
Portrait of Gladys Bentley

Long before Hollywood manufactured the rebel as a spoilt white kid slouching in a windbreaker, a group of African-American women were breaking taboos and living hard rebellious lives as queer Blues divas during the 1910s and 1920s. On every level, these women: Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter and Gladys Bentley could have given that poor sulky white boy a reason for rebellion.

They were black in a segregated and racist America; they were women in a sexist and patriarchal world; they were queer when being lesbian, gay or bi-sexual was considered by many as anathema. Each one of these women were genuine rebels, who were a heck of a lot more rebellious than anything promoted by our anodyne pop culture these days.

When you hear Ma Rainey sing “Prove It On Me Blues” you know she doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks, she is just telling it how it is:

They said I do it, ain’t nobody caught me.
Sure got to prove it on me.
Went out last night with a crowd of my friends.
They must’ve been women, cause I don’t like no men.

The song refers to incident when Rainey was busted for indecency at an all girl party in 1925. Rainey was the “Mother of the Blues,” who discovered Bessie Smith—the “Empress of the Blues” who went on to eclipse her mentor, and save Paramount records from going bust with such risque songs as “Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl”. While Alberta Hunter lived openly with her lover, and Gladys Bentley was a “bulldagger” who dressed in a white tuxedo and top hat and “flirted outrageously” with the women in her audience.

T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s is a short documentary that examines and careers of Rainey, Smith, Hunter, Bentley and co. Made in 2011 by Robert Philipson the film documents how:

The 1920s saw a revolution in technology, the advent of the recording industry, that created the first class of African-American women to sing their way to fame and fortune. Blues divas such as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Alberta Hunter created and promoted a working-class vision of blues life that provided an alternative to the Victorian gentility of middle-class manners. In their lives and music, blues women presented themselves as strong, independent women who lived hard lives and were unapologetic about their unconventional choices in clothes, recreational activities, and bed partners. Blues singers disseminated a Black feminism that celebrated emotional resilience and sexual pleasure, no matter the source.

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Samuel Beckett Motivational Cat Posters’
07.31.2014
02:25 pm

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Animals
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Samuel Beckett
cats


 
At some point, you knew this would happen, didn’t you? No one asked for it, but here it is, a Tumblr completely devoted to exploring that place in the Venn diagram that intersects the “I Can Has Cheezburger?” demographic and admirers of Irish avant garde writer Samuel Beckett.

That’s right, photos of cute cats with captions explaining their bleak and intolerable existence!


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Serge Gainsbourg’s reggae version of ‘La Marseillaise’ that earned him death threats
07.14.2014
08:19 am

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Music
Politics

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Serge Gainsbourg


 
Serge Gainsbourg offended many of his patriotic countrymen in 1979 when he rewrote the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” as a reggae number, “Aux armes et caetera.” The song was the title track from his 13th album, recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, giving him the distinction of being only the second (to Mick Jagger, who dueted with Peter Tosh) major white European performer to record there. Serge did not anticipate the shitstorm that followed the TV premiere of his song, including death threats from nationalists and threats from soldiers to kick his ass if he performed the song in public. The French embassy’s website still has a reference to this controversy:

The French national anthem has had a turbulent past. Every now and then, there is an outcry to have it banned, or at least updated; it has been a long time since the Revolution was endangered by bordering European monarchs. Some people are offended during national ceremonies, when they hear such vengeful verses as “these ferocious soldiers who slaughter our sons and wives” or demanding “that impure blood flow in our fields.” But the majority of French people do not wish to change so much as a comma in their national anthem. Didn’t the members of the Resistance in WWII sing it as a final and supreme challenge to Nazi-occupying forces as they fell beneath the bullets of the firing squad?

The extent of the attachment of the French to their national anthem was revealed in the 1970s, when President Giscard d’Estaing attempted to impose “his” Marseillaise by having it played to a slower tempo in order to give it greater solemnity. The President’s initiative raised a storm of protest and Hector Berlioz’s orchestration was maintained. Late controversial singer and composer Serge Gainsbourg tried to rewrite the Marseillaise his own way in 1979 by having the national anthem played by a reggae band. The reception was less than stellar: A group of legionnaires threatened to give him a hard time if he performed his new version in public. Gainsbourg did sing the Marseillaise, but a cappella. One cannot tamper with that which is sacred!

 

A little gallows humor on the cover of Hara Kiri magazine
 
When a group of paratroopers caused a 1980 concert in Strasbourg (where “La Marseillaise” was written) to be shut down, Gainsbourg defiantly sang an a capella traditional version instead of “Aux armes et caetera” and was joined by the paratroopers! A year later in a defiant but classy move he bought an original manuscript of the anthem’s lyrics by Rouget de Lisle at an auction in France. Gainsbourg then proved to the public that his version—and the controversial “et caetera” of the title—was in fact, more faithful to the original than any other version: de Lisle, in fact, did not write out repeated verses by hand, but merely wrote “et caetera, et caetera, et caetera”!

Serge Gainsbourg, “Aux armes et caetera”:

 
Serge Gainsbourg sings the original “La Marseillaise” to calm everyone down, and at 2:09 the auction for the lyrics’ manuscript begins:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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