Monday, September 05, 2016


Sometimes, when you're grown up, especially if you've even passed the grown-up stage, playing in a metaphorical sand pen is the most fun you can have without actually regressing to childhood.

In my sand pen there are toys which didn't exist before digital technology. Being able to make 'experimental' videos, record one's self fooling around with words or music and other similarly useless activities then shamelessly putting them up on the internet, may indeed be proof of excessive vanity allied to lack of focus.  But the answer to such self-accusation, especially when you're post-grownup, is: SO WHAT? I'll fool around if I want to.

So here's another of those picosong links:

 Ne Me Quitte Pas cover by Natalie

Okay, in English the lyrics sound a bit maudlin but in French they don't. All comments welcome, pro or con.

Don't Leave me by Jacques Brel (translation by NdA)

Don't leave me (repeat)
Let's forget
Everything can be forgotten
It's already gone
Forget the time
Of misunderstanding
The time we wasted
Who knows how
Forget those hours
Which sometimes plunged
Knives of whys
Into the heart of bliss
Don't leave me (repeat)

I'll offer you
Pearls of rain
From lands where it never rains
I'll dig the earth 
Even after my death 
To cover your body 
With gold and light
I'll build a kingdom
Where love will be king
Where love will be law
Where you will be queen
Don't leave me (repeat)

I'll invent
Nonsense words
Which you'll understand
I'll tell you about
Those lovers
Who twice saw their love
Burst into flame
I'll tell you the story
Of that king
Who died
Of never having met you
Don't leave me (repeat)

It often happens
That a dormant volcano 
Believed too old
Suddenly erupts again
And they say there are
Scorched fields
Yielding more grain
Than the best of Aprils
And when evening falls
For the sky to blaze
Doesn't the red marry the black?
Don't leave me (repeat)

I won't cry anymore
I won't talk anymore
I'll just hide over here
To watch you dance and smile
To hear you sing and then laugh
Let me become
The shadow of your shadow
The shadow of your hand
The shadow of your dog
Don't leave me  (repeat)


Bryan White said...

When I first read the words "sand pen", I was trying to decide whether it was a pen that wrote with sand or a pen that you used to write IN the sand. Then my brain stopped having a minor stroke and I realized what you were talking about. I agree. We all need that little place to play.

Bryan White said...

P.S. Probably a language/culture thing. Over here we call them "sand boxes."

Roderick Robinson said...

I would say sand-pits.

Perhaps it's time to go all the way and do the Sprechstimme parts from Berg's Wozzeck which I had the good luck to see at the Paris Opera House. And after an early supper at the Tour d'Argent! Needless to say someone else was paying. Ever the corruptible journalist.

It's been ages since I heard Ne Me Quitte Pas. My impression is that the refrain is subtly distinguished from the body of the lyric by uttering it more gently or tinily changing the tone of voice in some way. But it's been a long time. The main trick is to charge the lines with emotion by draining all "emotion" from them, letting the simple words speak for themselves. And practising unremitting ellision. This you manage with what can only be described as élan. Bravo.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Bryan,I meant sandpit. Don't know why I said pen - I may have been thinking of pig pen? But visualising those small fenced-in enclosures in which very young children are put to play with sand and toys.

Robbie, I assume you're saying that YOU might attempt Wozzeck? My own repertoire is strictly limited to chansons of the Piaf/Brel/Ferré genre or a few Cole Porters or a bit of not-too folksy folk like the tricky "I was born and raised in East Virginia (pronounced verr-gin-ee-ah), and "Ay Manuela", "Cucurucucu Paloma" etc.

Roderick Robinson said...

Obviously not. Never rule out the possibility of change. One reason I took up singing was to tackle Mozart and Schubert. This has happened (in a minor way). However now I'm grinding my way through Ivor Novello, from a music genre I have always detested. Why am I doing this? Because it provides a simple foundation for singing duets with a soprano - which has always been one of my most pressing ambitions. I still detest Novello but see him as a means to an end, like scales.

Yes, I know this comes under the heading of discipline and you're on record about discipline. The Berg suggestion was a mild joke but since you appear to favour Sprechstimme it had a tenuous logic. I was about to suggest a more desirable goal in Kurt Weill but I see you're now ahead of me in this.