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French Pop Song of the Week: Sean Lennon’s French Duo

posted November 23, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in music translation world literature

Last month the world wished John Lennon a happy seventieth birthday. Yoko Ono invited fans to upload video tributes to John, and as if they knew him personally, many did, though some were not even born when he was shot in 1980 in New York City. And people also watched old videos of John singing and musing on topics of the day.

Those who really knew him were his friends and family, including Sean Lennon, his son with Yoko. This week’s French pop song of the week, “L’éclipse,” is a French remix of Sean Lennon’s song “Parachute.” Sean, who speaks French, collaborated on the remix with French singer M (Matthieu Chadid), and the video below has a kind of offbeat humor Sean’s father was known for. Sean is wearing glasses and a hat.

Also below is a translation of the French lyrics (which differ from the English version). “Sauter du coq à l’âne” (”to jump from rooster to donkey”) is a French expression meaning “to jump from one subject to another.”

Sean Lennon & -M- l’éclipse
envoyé par LodanDruid. – Clip, interview et concert.

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French Pop Song of the Week: The Jealousy of Mademoiselle K

posted September 2, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in music translation world literature

mademoiselle k

Once upon a time, back in the ‘80s, Katerine Gierak was just a young girl in Paris. At five years old she enrolled in her first music class. Soon she started playing the flute and studying music theory. Then she took up the classical guitar, followed by the electric guitar. From 1999 to 2005 she studied music at the Sorbonne, hoping to become a music teacher. But she failed the CAPES, a French exam for teachers, and instead of accepting the failure as a temporary setback, she changed careers. She became a rock star.

Now heading the band Mademoiselle K, Katerine Gierak is a popular and distinctive voice in contemporary French rock. Here is a clip of her 2006 song “Jalouse” (”Jealous”) from the album Ça Me Vexe (”That Upsets Me”). Below is a translation of the lyrics.

Clip : “Jalouse”, Mademoiselle K. Roy Music
envoyé par roymusic. – Regardez plus de clips, en HD !
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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.)

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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


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.

Looking for a Vintage Keyboard?

posted June 25, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in technology world literature

A while back I posted about vintage manual typewriters and how they have once again become desirable and popular. Well, if you are attracted to the look and feel of the old manual typewriters yet loathe to give up any modern technology, there is a solution for you—the USB Typewriter (TM).

Jack Zylkin modifies and sells vintage typewriters that can be plugged into just about any modern computer via a USB port. He sells these on his etsy site. In addition, you can purchase a D.I.Y. Kit if you already have an old typewriter you’d like to adapt, or you can send Jack your old typewriter and have him complete the conversion for you.

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