Friday, March 18, 2011

affinities (Brecht, Fleet Foxes)


"Back when I was young, I was brought to realize
What a very special person I must be
(Not just any old cottager's daughter, what with my looks
   and my talents and my urge towards Higher Things)
And insisted that my soup should have no hairs in it.
No one makes a sucker out of me!
(All or nothing, only the best is good enough, each man for
   himself, nobody's telling me what to do.)
Then I heard a tit
Chirp: Wait a bit!
   And you'll be marching with the band
   In step, responding to command
   And striking up your little dance:
   Now we advance.
   And now: parade, form square!
   Then men swear God's there —
   Not the faintest chance!

In no time at all anyone who looked could see
That I'd learned to take my medicine with good grace.
(Two kids on my hands and look at the price of bread, and
   things they expect of you!)
When they finally came to feel that they were through
   with me
They'd got me grovelling on my face.
(Takes all sorts to make a world, you scratch my back and I'll
   scratch yours, no good banging your head against a brick
   wall.)
Then I heard that tit
Chirp: Wait a bit!
   And you'll be marching with the band
   In step, responding to command
   And striking up your little dance:
   Now they advance.
   And now: parade, form square!
   Then men swear God's there —
   Not the faintest chance!

I've known people tried to storm the summits:
There's no star too bright or seems too far away.
(Dogged does it, where there's a will there's a way, by hook
   or by crook.)
As each peak disclosed fresh peaks to come, it's
   Strange how much a plain straw hat could weigh.
(You have to cut your coat according to your cloth.)
Then I heard the tit
Chirp: Wait a bit!
   And they'll be marching with the band
   In step, responding to command
   And striking up their little dance:
   Now they advance.
   And now: parade, form square!
   Then men swear God's there —
   Not the faintest chance!"
                                                                                  —"The Song of the Grand Capitulation"
                                                                                     Mother Courage and Her Children (Bertolt Brecht, 1939)


Pieter Bruegel mother courage brecht mad meg Dulle Griet
Dulle Griet / Mad Meg - Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1562)
One of the inspirations for Brecht's Mother Courage.


* * *


(lyrics below)


"I was raised up believing
I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes
Unique in each way you can see

And now after some thinking
I'd say I'd rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery
Serving something beyond me

But I don't, I don't know what that will be
I'll get back to you someday soon you will see

What's my name, what's my station
Oh just tell me what I should do
I don't need to be kind to the armies of night
That would do such injustice to you

Or bow down and be grateful
And say "Sure take all that you see"
To the men who move only in dimly-lit halls
And determine my future for me

And I don't, I don't know who to believe
I'll get back to you someday soon you will see

If I know only one thing
It's that every thing that I see
Of the world outside is so inconceivable
Often I barely can speak

Yeah I'm tongue tied and dizzy
And I can't keep it to myself
What good is it to sing helplessness blues?
Why should I wait for anyone else?

And I know, I know you will keep me on the shelf
I'll come back to you someday soon myself

If I had an orchard
I'd work till I'm raw
If I had an orchard
I'd work till I'm sore

And you would wait tables
And soon run the store

Gold hair in the sunlight
My light in the dawn
If I had an orchard
I'd work till I'm sore

If I had an orchard
I'd work till I'm sore

Someday I'll be
Like the man on the screen."
                                                                                  —"Helplessness Blues"
                                                                                      Helplessness Blues (Fleet Foxes, 2011)


Pieter Bruegel fleet foxes dutch proverbs
Netherlandish Proverbs - Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1559)
Used for the cover of Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut album.


2 comments:

Tyler said...

Before ruling against it, I considered attaching the following excerpt from Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard as a third part to the post:

ANYA. What have you done to me, Petya? Somehow I don't love the cherry orchard as I used to. I loved it so tenderly, I thought there was no better place in the world than our orchard.

TROFIMOV [Petya]. All Russia is our orchard. The land is great and beautiful, it is full of wonderful places. [Pause] Think, Anya, your grandfather, your great-grandfather, and all your ancestors were slave-owners, owners of living souls. Don't you see human spirits peering at you from every cherry in the orchard, every leaf and every stalk? Don't you hear their voices...? Oh, it's awful, your orchard is a terrible thing. Possessing living souls has corrupted all of you, those who lived before and since. You, your mother, and your uncle don't know that you are living off other people, people who weren't even allowed in the house. When I walk through the orchard in the early evening or at night, the old bark on the trees glows dimly, and the old cherry trees seem to be dreaming of all the centuries gone. Well, well, we are at least two hundred years behind the times. We have achieved nothing at all yet; we haven't yet decided how to relate to the past. We only theorize, complain of boredom, or drink vodka. It's so obvious that, before we can live in the present, we must first redeem the past, and break with it. And we can only redeem it through suffering, only by relentless unceasing labor. Understand that, Anya.

Sean said...

I'm glad you at least posted it in the comments. While it doesn't work with the post proper in a concrete sense, it certainly does add to it.

Not knowing much of anything about modern (new?) music, this post both surprised me and made me very curious to learn more. Thank you!