Wednesday 13 February 2008

The sixties.

The well known exchange of dialogue from the movie Field of Dreams (1989) stuck in my mind for a long time:
Annie Kinsella:"...And if you experienced even a little bit of the sixties, you would feel the same way, too."
Beulah: [indignantly] I *experienced* the sixties.
Annie Kinsella: "No, I think you had two fifties and moved right into the seventies."

I spent the entire sixties in captivity, since the ends of the decade correspond to my ages of five and fifteen, so I guess I missed the fun part, at least in the ways that I measure fun from my present perspective. However, while I am suspicious of sentimentality for the past, It would certainly be true to say that there was something special about the sixties, from the point of view of an artist. In tandem with picking up and watching Godard's A bout de Souffle (1960) I was recently reading a book one of me pals gave me for my fiftieth birthday two years back, Revolution! :The Explosion of World Cinema in the 60s, by Peter Cowie and I got to remembering how there was a time before film properties were thought of, in the terminolgy of business, as 'franchises.' That was way back when a fellow whose name I have forgotten used to take me along to seasons of Welles and Hitchcock at the National Film Theatre and I had half a notion of getting into that world, the Art of Film.

To save us all having to spend undue amounts of time excavating the ruins of that age, there's a blog doing the work for us: The World Of Kane: 'Retro candy for your eyes and ears.' It's the work of Will Kane, whose myspace shows him to be 38. His obsession with sixties is the itching, driving, all encompassing obsession of one who arrived just as they were closing the doors. Here he gives us a beautiful set of images of Vasarely's op-art paintings, and here's Sammy Davis and Anthony Newly in what looks like a Hefner setting, which is all a bit self-congratulatory and self-conscious, but I'd never seen it before, and anyway I seem to remember that being the gestalt of the sixties.

Much more precious are the three Youtube clips of Jacques Brel, a true artist who died before he was fifty.. Especially look at his 'le moribond', horribly massacred in English as the syrupy "Seasons in the Sun."
(superior direct translation of Mort Shuman)
"Goodbye Antoine, I didn't like you very much,
I am dying of dying today,
but you are full of life and more soild than boredom
...seeing that you were her lover I know that you will take care of my wife.
I want you all to laugh, all to dance, all to enjoy yourselves like crazy,
when they drop me in the hole."

and Amsterdam:
"In the port of Amsterdam there are sailors who dance,
rubbing their bellies against womens' bellies,
they turn and they dance like suns spit out,
to the sound of a rancid accordion."

Kane has been collecting the sixties since Oct 2005, so there's a lot of browsing to be done. His latest post is about comic book stylist Jim Steranko. He shows the famous censored page from SHIELD #2, but the supposed original version has always looked bogus to me, with that clunky drawing of the figures, as though Jim concocted it after the event just for a good yarn. The way it was printed looks superior to these eyes. In an earlier post Kane has scanned the whole romance story that Steranko drew.
(thanks to drjon for the link)

One of my regular correspondents emailed and asked me to explain the 'asscrusher' story from my Feb 11 post.

Tony Consiglio was working in an appliance store and got a phone order for an 'asscrusher' from a lady down South
The great thing about Tony's telling of the story is that he strings it out for ages and the listener can't get it, so this is the very short version:

"Lady, if you don't mind me asking, what do you need an asscrusher for?"
"Are you making a fool of me? you need an ass-crusher to crush youah ass!"

Tony keeps trying to find ways to clarify the query, until finally it clicks:

"And when you've crushed it, where do you keep your ass."
"Are you stupid, mister? You keep youah ass in the ass box to put in youah drinks."

(I've been tampering with the phonetics in the above all day...sigh...)

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Blogger Arthur de L. said...


I didn't know that Brel's song had been translated into English, I'm actually surprised someone dared to do so. Even though it was apparently done by a friend of Brel, his songs were characterised by his wonderful mastery of the french language, of play on words, on "double entendre" as some say, and so on and so forth.

I hadn't listened to his songs in years, I just started to listen to them again with pleasure, so thanks.

Take care,

14 February 2008 at 06:17:00 GMT-5  
Blogger miriam beetle said...

a real southerner wouldn't have used "y'all" as a singular pronoun. only northerners get that wrong (my sister theorizes it's ancestral memory of french built into southern-us english).

14 February 2008 at 06:45:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott Walker recorded quite a few Brel songs, including Amsterdam. You can hear them scattered around various albums or collected on Scott Walker Sings Jacques Brel. Scott's versions inspired David Bowie and Marc Almond to try their own renditions.

Scott did Brel's Au Suivant (Next) but the better version of that was by Alex Harvey. Eddie may remember the Sensational Alex Harvey Band giving a tremendous performance of this on the Old Grey Whistle Test:

14 February 2008 at 06:53:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

that's what i always thought. It seems logical, and an acceptable way of differentiating the plural 'you'
it got in there in the most recent edit. I think i must have tampered with that thing a dozen times now. I've gone and tampered yet again. I should have run it past Chris Staros before I put it up. Now I've gone over it so many times it looks like complete gibberish. oh well.

14 February 2008 at 07:04:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Of course, that kind of thing should be largely avoided, but the point of the joke only works with a large dose of phonetics.

anyway, criticism humbly accepted, Miriam.

and J C. yes, the great Alex Harvey... haven't thought about him in such a loong time.

14 February 2008 at 07:13:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: Bastardizing Brel. Here's the Terry Jacks video on YouTube. I was six years old when this crap started fouling the airwaves. US "Oldies" stations like to pull it out for their One-Hit-Wonder Weekends. The song does kind of grow on you --- like shingles.

14 February 2008 at 11:13:00 GMT-5  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

David Bowie did a version of The Port of Amsterdam a few (about 20) years back.
Brel has the most beautiful lyrics.

14 February 2008 at 12:59:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

The "ass-crusher" dialog is priceless. I shall repeat it at parties often.

I once lived in a part of the Southern Appalachians where they still spoke with an Elizabethan dialect. There, the word "ass" was pronounced "ice".

If someone in those mountains had asked a local for an "ice crusher", a world of merriment would have followed.

14 February 2008 at 18:37:00 GMT-5  

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