(June 1, 2009)
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The June-July issue of The Canyon Country Zephyr -- Planet Earth Edition -- is now Online
To the Editor:
The second cyberprint issue of The Canyon Country Zephyr...Planet Earth Edition is now Online at: canyoncountryzephyr.com. Access to all elements of the site is free. The Zephyr is supported solely by advertising and the generosity of readers who have chosen to join The Zephyr "Backbone."
It is once again formatted in Adobe Acrobat (PDF), but we are working to supplement it with an HTML edition in the near future.
Come and visit us. Let your voice be heard. Whether you agree or disagree with us...your voice is welcome here. Join the conversation. Send your comments to: cczephyr AT gmail.com.
Moab, Utah, USA - May 30, 2009
The Deserted World of Boris Vian
I have read with interest your comments on Boris Vian's wonderful song, Le Déserteur.
I was introduced to the song in the 1960s when I first heard it on a Peter, Paul and Mary album, "In Concert Vol 2" (Warner Bros WS8159). Certain lines have always stuck in my memory from their performance. There's just something about the way Peter Yarrow sings the lines, "Messieurs qu'on nomme grands/Je ne veux pas la faire/Je ne suis pas sur terre/Pour tuer les pauvres gens" (verse 1), and, "Profitez de la vie/Eloignez la misère" (verse 3), which catch me.
Yesterday, for no apparent reason, these lines came into my head so I put the album on for the first time in a long time and gave it a couple of crackly spins. And, also for the first time, I decided to find a bit more out about the song. I don't think that 45 years ago in the North East of England I had any idea about the potency of the song and its history, it just seemed to resonate with me; obviously it still does.
I now find that the lines above don't appear in the original version!
One small point, which is really why I sat down to write this note. On the album I mentioned above, the song credits are listed as Vian, Borg (publishers, Leeds Music). Your correspondent Jim Rothschild says that, "Oddly, the most famous American recording, which appears on a Peter, Paul and Mary album credits Peter Paul and Mary as the writers!" Must be a different album I guess. :)
At http://www.peterpaulandmary.com/music/f-04-11.htm the song is similarly credited.
The lyrics Peter Yarrow sang, however, do have some differences from the original. I don't know who rewrote or adjusted the song but they probably did quite a good, and possibly politically necessary, job in a USA heading ever deeper into the terrible conflict in Vietnam as they were in 1964 after the "Gulf of Tonkin Resolution" in August of that year (although this album was first released in July 1964 the storm clouds had been gathering over Vietnam for several years).
In the liner notes to the album all that the writer, John Court, says about Le Déserteur is "... you may be surprised to hear the third side of this album begin with Peter's thoughtful and stirring French solo." Was this the Warner Bros corporate take on a contentious issue being aired in this way? I wonder ....
The biggest difference between the versions comes in verse 10. In the original version, verse 10 says: "refusez d'obéir/refusez de la faire/n'allez pas à la guerre/refusez de partir." This translates as: "Refuse to obey/refuse to do it/don't go to war/refuse to go."
Whereas Peter sings: "Profitez de la vie/Eloignez la misère/Les hommes sont tous des frères/Gens de tous les pays." This translates as: "Enjoy life/Away misery/All men are brothers/Peoples of all countries."
Even in the mid-1960s at the height of their popularity, perhaps they felt they didn't dare to incite so overtly men to challenge the draft which was to start sending US soldiers to Vietnam in August 1964. My conjecture.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Dr. John Barrow
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK - May 26, 2009
Contrarian Advice and Questions
Hey Monsieur d'Aymery,
Glad to see that your are revisiting your old roots. Le coin français is a delight. Please extend my thanks to Marie and Simone. Now, if you wish to raise some money out of this new endeavor you better get with the times. Provide a way to contribute through plastic. No one outside of the USA is going to mail you a check or a stash of cash in an envelope. Give us the possibility to use our credit cards. Not that it will make you wealthy but at least it may help you to delay your necessary daily trip to la soupe populaire. Just my take...
You and the other birds in your bevy carefully avoid Big O. Why is that? Haven't you figured out by now that he is as much an "agent of change" as the guy he replaced? Keeps waging wars; keeps feeding the trough of the banksters; keeps curtailing civil liberties; keeps promoting the status quo ante... Isn't it time to call a spade a spade? Then I read with dismay that you no longer support Ralph Nader. For heaven sake, have you thrown sanity by the way side and jumped the contrarian ship? This would be a very disappointing development for those of us who have sided steadfastly by your principled stands.
Realism is the last refuge of the cowards, to paraphrase a famous author. Don't fall for it.
Allez, bon vent. Get back to giving 'em hell!
Paris, France - May 28, 2009
Gilles d'Aymery responds: I side with Ralph Nader on all the issues he is currently advocating (e.g., single payer health care system, etc.) but I have no reason to "support" him for he is no longer running for office. I have yet to find a credit card service that makes sense; that is, one that is not too costly to operate on a monthly basis. There will be plenty of opportunities in the months and years ahead to write about the Obama administration's score card without falling into the media noise surrounding the first 100 days. BTW, Jan Baughman did take on the "O" administration in her last cartoon.
Dear people at Swans Commentary:
I had googled Vidal, then the palimpsest subgoogle, and had taken in a few other articles and video on Vidal's book.
There was the New York Times review just before I read your article, but before that there were interesting and favorable discussions about this memoir.
I thought your commentary was absurd and hateful, not talking that much about the book at all, but rather tearing Gore Vidal down to a nasty stupid place. In other words, right upon the writing you passed for commentary.
Too bad you think so little of Gore Vidal because you must be looking away or beyond his importance and missing hearing some important truths and knowing American history. Oh well.
Too bad you chose to present an insult to one of the great thinkers instead of an actual review of the book.
Too bad you must represent the ....."dark side"..... which is so busy going to the bank or hobnobbing with the neocon artists that you abhor hearing any whisper from outside your own sick and silly view of "the world."
I love Gore Vidal, so I hated your silly commentary.
Are you still in business?
Gorino is. And wasn't he right about this empire thing?
Rockland, MA, USA - May 20, 2009
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