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Archive for July, 2010:


French Pop Song of the Week: 1969 French Hit in the U.S.

posted July 27, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in music translation world literature

In the summer of 1967 American songwriter Paul Anka was visiting France. One day, as the story goes, Anka, already a huge success in the United States, was glancing at a television, and by chance he saw the French pop star Claude François singing “Comme d’habitude” (”As Always”), which had just been released. Taken by the melody, Anka found an album of Claude François’s, returned to the United States, and eventually wrote English lyrics for the song. The words are those of a man reflecting on life at the end of his career, and Anka wrote them with Frank Sinatra and Sinatra’s image in mind. In 1969 Sinatra released Anka’s English version, called “My Way.”

Thus were the origins of one of the most successful pop songs in American history. Popularized by Frank Sinatra, “My Way” has since been recorded by more than a thousand other singers. But as explained on this French television program, in France it wasn’t initially a big hit for Claude François, who cowrote the song with Jacques Revaux and Gilles Thibaut. The French lyrics are also completely different, expressing a weary routine in a relationship.

Below is a video of Claude François and Mireille Mathieu singing “Comme d’habitude” in 1973. By this time even Elvis had a version of “My Way.” François and Mathieu end this short version of the song with lines from Anka’s English lyrics.

Following the video is a translation of the original French song. (For a video in which Claude François sings all the French lyrics, click here.)

Read the rest of this entry »


The Evolution of Book Clubs

posted July 9, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling E-books book design books digital media events technology translation trends world literature

booksandbars

Book clubs are pretty amazing things. I don’t belong to one at the moment, but I would say 80 percent of my friends are members of book groups. I really believe there is a book group for everyone. There are highly structured book groups, very laidback ones, clubs that read only classics, I could go on and on. Well, I just learned of a public book club in Minneapolis called Books & Bars. The group meets once a month at Bryant Lake Bowl, a theater that is adjoined by a pub and bowling alley.

Books & Bars has a moderator, comedian Jeff Kamin, and each session boasts about 70 attendees. Among the book club’s sponsors are independent bookseller Magers & Quinn and satirical newspaper The Onion. Participants are encouraged to purchase the selected books from Magers & Quinn and to enjoy food and drink at Bryant Lake Bowl during the gatherings. And even though it’s a book club, reading the book selection is not a requirement.

Upcoming book selections include The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, and illustrated novel Blankets by Craig Thompson.


Smokin’ Books

posted July 8, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling book design books

tankbooks

If you like the idea of super compact books that will fit into your pocket but aren’t keen on reading books on a small digital device such as an iPhone, there is still hope! U.K. company TankBooks has come up with a very clever and visually appealing way of packaging miniature books—inside specially designed boxes that look like flip-top cigarette packs.

The company currently offers six titles, all classics, by Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Leo Tolstoy. The books can be purchased individually or as a set (the set comes in a nice tin), and yes, they will ship to the United States. And while the cigarette box-packaged books may be addictive, they won’t be harmful to your health. Seems like a win-win!