The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

1 / 3 (One - Third )

3-12-08 1/3

Roughly 1/3 of my music collection does not originate from either the U.S. or the U.K. – Artists from France, Holland, Japan, New Zealand, Australia etc. – make up approx. 1/3 of my music collection. In fact, some of these artists are among my most favorite music artists. I have over-collected artists like Split Enz, Gruppo Sportivo, Hermeto Pascoal, Urszula Dudziak, Thomas Diethelm, Yello, Lucio Battisti etc. Split Enz and Yello both sing in English, but the others…not so much.

Not sure how I shrugged off the need to have everything “be in English” – you’d never know it, as I write almost exclusively in English! But at some time in the 1970’s, I discovered I could easily listen to artists singing in other languages – and enjoy it a lot. One of the first artists I liked of this nature was the late French singer/songwriter Michel Berger. I found an inexpensive used LP of his debut album within a year or two of it having been released – and I was studying French at the time (in high school). I took the album to school and “shared it” with the teacher and other students. Wow, French Rock Music! (I bet all concerned were sick of The Singing Nun, Nana Mouskouri et al).

As a teenaged fan of progressive rock – I quickly learned that I wasn’t destined to ‘fully comprehend everything’ – all that German on Faust and Amon Duul II LP’s etc. It’s a given that Italian artists usually only ever sing in Italian – there are very few exceptions. True, Pino Daniele sprinkles English into his songs, but…98% (or more) of all Italian music artists sing exclusively in Italian.

I remember when we started importing LP’s from Japan at the end of the 70’s – in addition to Japanese artists like Chronicle and The Far East Family Band – we also were ordering Japanese-pressed Beatles LP’s. The Japanese pressings are excellent – ‘warpage’ is almost unknown, and the Japanese pressings were very, very quiet. When the Japanese Beatles’ LP’s showed up and were offered for sale – I still recall (with great amusement) the philistines, upon seeing the Japanese lettering on the Japanese-pressed Beatles LP’s asking us, “This isn’t sung in Japanese, is it?”

I wonder how my 1/3 statistic stacks up against my interest in literature and films? I bet in literature, I have a lot more British books than almost anything else – but I know my film library has plenty of French & Italian movies. I don’t catalogue my books, so, no info readily available.

How do you feel about stuff not sung in English? Can you listen to it with no problems? Style over content, perhaps? Etienne Daho! Les Rita Mitsouko! Mam! Serge Gainsbourg! Adriano Celentano! Kenji Sawada!


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

I made the move into non-English music in the mid 80s when I had access to music videos from foreign lands. I studied Spanish for 2.5 years in school so when presented with Grupo Flans, what was not to like? I was even fans of many of the (UK) musicians the producers cannily roped in. After several years of movement particularly into French language music, I came to the conclusion that I listen to music primarily for the abstract emotional content in the music, rather than for the concrete lyrical content. This is fortunate, since most lyrics are not compelling to me! When you don't comprehend the lyrics, much of the banality of music is eliminated in a delightful fashion.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When you don't comprehend the lyrics, much of the banality of music is eliminated in a delightful fashion." - Exactly!

6:18 PM  

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