Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jeux Sans Frontières

Peter Gabriel from his third self-titled album..



This album introduced me to lots of things: gated percussion, early Genesis, Kate Bush, and the life of Stephen Biko. This song sounded strange and ominous when I first heard it (thought the intro was "she's so fuckin ay"), and then I saw the game show "It's a Knockout" which is a British version of a French show called (you guessed it!) "Jeux Sans Frontières" and found out it was literally about people dressing up in costumes and playing silly games.

Global conflict as a game show. The chorus "if looks could kill they probably will" is gramatically incorrect, even if it does rhyme. And the "kissing baboons" lyric in the single scans better than the "piss on the goons" on the album version.

2 comments:

spanghew said...

As always, my tendency is to note that nominally "ungrammatical" phrases often carry different shades of meaning than the supposedly equivalent "grammatical" phrases. Here, for example, "if looks could kill they probably would" just doesn't come close to expressing the same idea - part of that is "will" brings in the notion of "intention," but another part is the original phrase is also interpretable, grammatically, as "if looks could kill [and at some point in the future] they probably will" - implying, generally, if something can be used violently, it will be so used. Basically, "would" seems vague and iffy in a way that "will" does not. (Of course, my proposed emendation is grammatical only insofar as it has no actual errors...but it's not a complete sentence. That's only one reason why applying prose grammar rules to lyrics or poetry is a dubious game, to me.)

Janet ID said...

I was, of course, going to post a dissenting opinion regarding your grammar note but Jeff has, of course, beaten me to it - and with typical thoroughness and precision that my response would have lacked.

If friends could shill they probably will.