While searching through some of my literary bits and pieces, currently “filed” in a few dusty piles on my study floor, I came across some forgotten lyrics.

In January 2000, in France, a seventeen-year-old budding rock guitarist, called Gaetan, heard me sing a few bars of something at the home of a mutual acquaintance.  It was in the early hours of the morning, and the teenager was many kilometres from home.  However, at three o’clock in the morning, he set off on his scooter and, apparently inspired by my voice, proceeded to spend the rest of the night (it was the middle of Winter, so nights were long) writing me some music.

I was very touched by this.  I had had a certain number of musician boyfriends, all of them guitarists, some more talented than others, but this was the first time that a musician had written any music for me.  It occurred to me that I hadn’t been choosing the right boyfriends.  However, as I was by then a grandmother, that particular aspect of the situation was no longer relevant.  I decided that Gaetan’s musical gift should be gracefully received, and asked the composer what sort of words he had in mind for it.  He wanted me to write them in English.  We fixed a day to work on it.

When the day arrived, we settled down to write, Gaetan on his bed playing the melody over and over again on his guitar, while I sprawled on the floor with pad and pencil, waiting for inspiration, and Gaetan’s mother popped her head in at regular intervals to keep an eye on what was going on in her son’s bedroom. 

Having bathed in the music for a while, I started to write, and although the result below is not exactly Shakespeare, it sounded all right when it was decorated with drums, bass guitar, lead guitar and my voice.  Although very young, Gaetan was a gifted guitarist.  However, being as young as he was, he was not always in the mood for rehearsals, and we eventually had to part ways.

I am rather a maniac for rehearsals.  If I am not capable of doing it in my sleep, it hasn’t been rehearsed enough.  When I am preparing something, I rehearse every day.  Alone, if necessary.  Rock musicians have a tendency to want me to do a whole concert with them on the strength of only one rehearsal, occasionally with no rehearsal at all.  They do not seem to understand my terror at the idea of messing it up.  Jazz musicians are the same.  It is probably because they are much more gifted than I am, therefore have much more confidence in themselves, and need less practice.

Anyway, back to the song.  I should perhaps warn you that it is not a very happy, lighthearted song.  I must have been in a period of depression when I wrote it, so if anyone is feeling particularly blue at the moment, I would advise you not to read any farther.  I do not want to be held responsible for any attempts at suicide which could result from it.

 

Ancient Times?

(paroles pour la musique de Gaetan)

 

Long ago and far away, when I was just a little child,

My Grandpa took me by the hand and sat me down.

He told me of the ancient times when men were tough and running wild.

He said those times were over now, and then he frowned.

***

Those times, he said, were over now, but here and there around the world,

Some people still were running wild and had to kill,

To tear apart, to burn and rape, to maim, to hear the others hurl.

I didn’t understand his words, but I sat still.

***

(break)

***

Then, I was just a little child, so secure in my big isle,

Where all these things were words to me, but now I know.

I’ve seen these things on TV screens:  Europe,  Asia,  Africa…

I’ve seen the fear right here in France.  How can we smile?

***

How can we laugh and sing and dance, when screams of torture are so near,

When men are killing other men?  Why make a fuss?

Oh, are we just insensitive, or are we deaf and cannot hear

The rising of intolerance next-door to us?

***

(break)

***

Long ago and far away, when I was just a little child,

My Grandpa took me by the hand and sat me down.

He told me of the ancient times when men were tough and running wild.

He said those times were over now, but what’s that sound?

***

He said those times were over now, but what’s that sound?

***

He said those times were over now, but what’s that sound?

***

(January 2000)

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