dijous, 20 de juny de 2013

Up the junction - Squeeze #LyricsTellAStory

Alguns necessiten 300 o 400 pagines per contar una historia. N'hi ha d'altres que amb 3 minuts en tenen prou.
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Some may need three or four hundred pages to tell a good story; others can do it in three minutes.
In my opinion, some of the greatest lyrics ever have come from this band in terms of originality, poignancy, humour - and above all, originality again! None of this "he opened the door, I fell on the floor", "my love for you, is quite big too" tosh out of the Idiots Guide to Write Cheap Attempts at Deep Lyrics.



 I never thought it would happen
With me and the girl from Clapham
Out on a windy common
That night I ain't forgotten
When she dealt out the rations
With some or other passions
I said you are a lady
Perhaps she said, I may be
We moved into a basement
With thoughts of our engagement
We stayed in by the telly
Although the room was smelly
We spent our time just kissing
The railway arms we're missing
But love had got us hooked up
And all our time it took up

I got a job with Stanley
He said I'd come in handy
And started me on Monday
So I had a bath on Sunday
I worked eleven hours
And bought the girl some flowers
She said she'd seen a doctor
And nothing now could stop her

I worked all through the winter
The weather brass and bitter
I put away a tenner
Each week to make her better
And when the time was ready
We had to sell the telly
Late evenings by the fire
With little kicks inside her

This morning at 4:50
I took her rather nifty
Down to an incubator
Where thirty minutes later
She gave birth to a daughter
Within a year a walker
She looked just like her mother
If there could be another

And now she's two years older
Her mother's with a soldier
She left me when my drinking
Became a proper stinging
The devil came and took me
From bar to street to bookie
No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelling

Alone here in the kitchen
I feel there's something missing
I'd beg for some forgiveness
But begging's not my business
And she won't write a letter
Although I always tell her
And so it's my assumption
I'm really up the junction

diumenge, 16 de juny de 2013

(2) Manipulating History #Nazis_vs_democracy



Quan mirem les pel·lícules de grecs, romans, vikings, i fins i tot cowboys & indians, sovint posem tots al mateix sac i no anem a pensar qui eren els bons, los de Troia o los del cavall. Però crec que si mirem l’historia més recent, l’historia que molta gent encara viva ha viscut en primer persona, potser si que podem esbrinar una mica més si n’hi havia de bons i dolents, o si tots eren iguals.
I si parlem de la Segona Guerra Mundial, per molts errors i/o desgracies que van cometre els aliats, no hi ha cap dubte qui eren els Bons i qui eren els Dolents. Qui volia exterminar “races” senceres de gent i conquistar mig món, i qui volia lluitar per la llibertat i la democracia.
Pos, resulta que Franco i els  seus feixistes espanyols no van prendre part directament a favor de Hitler i els Nazis, entre altres motius perque no tenien res a oferir després de 3 anys de desgast d’una guerra civil, i també per la presió i/o soborns internacionals. Però si que van anar uns voluntaris des d’Espanya per lluitar al costat de Hitler. Es deien la DivisionAzul.
Bé, suposo si esteu llegint això en català, ja podeu imaginar quin és el tema que ens ha portat a parlar d’això avui. L’homenatge que els va fer la Delegada del GovernEspanyol, Maria de los Llanos de Luna, fa unes setmanes. I que despres van tenir la barra de dir que era paregut a fer un homentage als voluntaris de la Brigada Internacional o ex-soldats que havien lluitat per la Republica, ja que tot formava part de l’historia. Pos, no, no és així. Encara falta molt de temps per a que frivolment podem considerar que no hi ha diferencia entre els Nazis i els que lliuten per la democracia.
La cançó, és la que hauria d'haver ficat en el post anterior ...
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When you watch historical films, or pseudo-historical films, it doesn’t really matter who the “goodies” are. Nothing better than watching Romans, Greeks, Spartans, Vikings etc attacking each other without worrying about who was in the right in such and such a war. However, I have the sneaky feeling that 20th century history – with survivors still around to tell their tales – deserves a more meticulous approach. It is quite important to remember who was in the right/wrong, if anyone was – as many 20th century events are very murky too. However, one sticks out in the mind as being a clear cut case of Black and White. World War Two. I hope everyone agrees that whatever dubious or tough tactical decisions the Allies took, they were in the right – fighting for freedom and democracy, against Hitler and the Nazis attempt to dominate half the world and wipe-out entire ethnic groups etc.

Franco received Hitler’s help in the Spanish Civil War, but by the time WW2 started, Spain was in such a mess that they were unable to return the support – plus international pressure and bribes also helped to keep them on the side-lines. However, they did organise groups of volunteers who did go to fight alongside Hitler. The so-called Blue Division.

Fast forward to now ---- just last month the Spanish government representative in Catalonia participated in a homage to ex-military members and paid specifichomage to ex-members of this Blue Division! When criticised, the government defended this deplorable action by comparing this to the homage paid to ex-members of the International Brigade or other soldiers who fought for the (democratically-elected) Republic. After all, it’s all history, isn’t it? Well, I beg to differ. Hopefully many centuries will pass before we can frivolously talk about Hitler and Nazism as if they were just one more unclear and not really significant historical event.
Today's song is the one I should really have added to the previous post - also on Spain's attitude to History and Democracy.

divendres, 7 de juny de 2013

(1) International Brigade / Fight for Democracy / Rewriting History



Tots els experts ens diuen que l’Historia és subjectiva i que sempre ens ho conten els guanyadors. OK, hi estic d’acord, però també estic convençut que hi ha uns fets indiscutibles.
Tornem a l’any 1936. Segons a qui escoltes, el govern espanyol, elegit democràticament, eren uns inutils, el demoni banyut, uns idealistes, gent en ganes de estirar Espanya fins al segle 20 d’una vegada per totes, gent en ganes de construir una república moderna i demòcrata, o gent amb ganes de vendre els seus bebes a Stalin per a fer caldo .... però, trobo que hi ha un fet que no es pot discutir. Era un govern elegit democràticament.
Segon fet; Franco va començar un cop d’estat, el qual, per la forma que ell actuava, es va convertir en una guerra civil.
Tercer fet; vist que els governs aliats miraven per l’altre costat, per motius politics, molts voluntaris d’arreu del món van anar a Espanya a lluitar a favor de la democràcia. Eren els Brigadistes Internacionals.
Quart fet; va guanyar Franco i Espanya va viure 40 anys de dictadura.
Ara que han passat els anys, i Espanya ha fet una “transició” cap a la democràcia, hi ha veus diferents sobre com s’hauria d’actuar amb aquest bagatge. Que si oblidem, que si no remenem, que lo fet està fet etc ... suposo que es pot parlar de totes les opcions mirant com altres països han actuat amb referència al seu passat fosc.
Però els fets continuen sent fets.
 A gairebé totes les ciutats d’Espanya, i moltes de Catalunya (Tortosa sense anar més lluny), encara hi ha monuments o recordatoris a la victòria dels copistes, amb debats publics sobre la convivencia o no de retirar-los. A Madrid resulta que tenen l’Arc de Triumf de Franco. I un petit monument recordant les Brigadistes que va posar l’Universitat – ni el govern ni “el estat”. Ara resulta que és aquest monument que molesta, un petit record de la gent que va venir fins aqui i va morir en nom de la democràcia, és el seu record que molesta – i, segons aquest article, van a retirar-lo. No tinc paraules. Passen coses molt grosses a la peninsula cada dia, però aquest m’ha deixat bocabadat! A gairebé totes les ciutats del Regne Unit o Irlanda tenim plaques recordant els morts, però aquí molesten (mentre gasten una fortuna restaurant el Valle de los Caidos).
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Ever since I was a lad, I’ve heard the one about History being a subjective issue, and that History is always written by the victors. However, I still believe that a fact is a fact.
Let’s go back to 1936. Spain has a newly elected democratic government. Some say they were a bunch of idiots, some say idealists, some say they’d set up a republican democracy worthy of the 20th century, others say they couldn’t have organised a piss-up in a brewery – geniuses, back-stabbers, the devil incarnate willing to sell babies to Stalin to make his soup with ... who knows? But, Fact One, they were democratically elected.
Fact Two. Franco staged a coup d’etât which evolved (either deliberately or through incompetence) into a civil war.
Fact Three. As most foreign governments turned a blind eye it was up to politically conscious volunteers to come from all around the world and fight on the side of the democratically elected government. The International Brigades.
Fact Four. They lost. Franco won and Spain suffered a 40-year dictatorship.
Years later, and Spain is still trying to come to terms with this historical burden. 35 years after their “transition” into a democracy and there is still public debate about what’s best – whether to sweep all this under the carpet and pretend it never happened or to make an attempt at a public acceptance and explanation of this dark past, following the example of other countries. Who knows what’s best. Again, a political, psychological, and personal debate.
However, facts are still facts.
Most towns in Spain, and Catalonia (Tortosa being a prime example) retain monuments and street signs celebrating the victory of Franco and his coup. Madrid even has its own huge Arc de Triumf apparently, not to mention the infamous monument/tomb built for Franco – el Valle de los Caidos – which has just been restored for a few million €uros. Turns out there is also a small monument commemorating the International Brigaders in Madrid, on the University Campus. Turns out, according to this article, that the Franco “Theme Park” that parts of Spain resemble, does not annoy the government and is not under debate. Turns out that the monument to lives lost fighting for democracy does. And they are going to pull it down.
Luckily there are many more such monuments in cities and towns all over the UK, Ireland, USA etc, but even so, a sad sad day for Spain.
UPDATE: since I wrote this I have found these two more serious and interesting opinions on this matter and the general question of how to approach history. One by historian Richard Baxell and Two by Sheffield University PhD student Matthew Kerry.