February 25, 2011

Tintin's playlist

What do Humbert Humbert and Tintin listen to on their iPods?

Duran Duran, naturally. 

Naw, just kidding. Humbert Humbert listens to Barry White (“You’re the First, the Last, my Everything”) and Tintin listens to America’s “Horse with no name", a song I've always found intensely irritating but which in this new light of Boy Reporter soundtrack, I’ve completely re-evaluated. Seriously, I’ll never hear it on my supermarket muzak again without picturing Tintin clinging to the mane of a charging palomino, “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name, it felt good to be out of the ra-ain, da, da da, da da da dadadada,..”, the hooves emitting little puffs of dust in time with the song.

I wish I had been the one clever enough to come up with the idea of a “literary mixtapes” series, but that honour belongs to a certain Emily Temple who has been “sneaking a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters” and posting them on Flavorwire, along with amusing character sketches and assorted commentary.

Some other noteworthy picks besides those already mentioned:

For Alice in Wonderland: “Home” – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

For Holden Caulfield: “The only living boy in New York” – Simon and Garfunkel  (“I can gather all the news I need on the weather report”, for the many out there who will be too young to know this song)

For Huck Finn: “Juicy” – Biggie Smalls

cover of Tintin in TibetTintin’s playlist is my favourite of all. Willie Nelson “On the road again”, “The Killing Moon” by Echo and the Bunnymen, “ZigZag wanderer” by Captain Beefheart, too perfect!

But I do note one major, major omission.

Who is the most famous Belgian next to Tintin? (Well I’m not sure of this, but anyway right now I can’t think of any more famous.) 

Who like Tintin came from a good bourgeois family and was a bit of a boy scout when young (don't tell me you hadn't noticed this about Tintin), and then went on to embody all the most likable things about Tintin, his defense of the downtrodden, his cheekiness, the touch of irony, the “picture him whistling as he walks away from a trap he’s set” as Emily Temple puts it so well?

Jacques Brel!

Tintin has to have a Jacques Brel song on his iPod. I mean, look at this photo of the extremely young Jacques Brel on the cover of one of his early hits. Imagine him without the cigarette. Okay, maybe it can't be done. But still, you get my drift.

And considering how Tintin remained so improbably, eternally boyish into his seventh or eighth decade, whatever it was, I suggest for him Le chanson des vieux amants,"The song of the old lovers", for these wonderful lines in which it is impossible not to see a reflection of its composer himself:

Et finalement, finalement,
il nous fallut bien du talent
pour ĂȘtre vieux sans ĂȘtre adultes
.

And finally, finally, it took a lot of talent on our parts, to be old without being adults.

Here it is, the original version, subtitled in English (what can't you find on youtube?). As you will see, contrary to what the title suggests, Jacques Brel was not singing about weathering the storms of old age, but about weathering the storms of love. He knew plenty of things about the human heart, but old age was something he took a rain check for.



If anyone has another good match between a literary character and a song, I'd love to hear about it.

February 19, 2011

Creative Writing now!

Spending a lot of time around books, I often meet people who have a passion for writing as well as for reading, and who are intrigued -- and occasionally obsessed -- by the idea of turning it into something tangible, but aren't sure what might be a good first step. So I'm happy to spread the word that the Manukau Institute of Technology has gathered some fantastic writers and teachers, two of whom used to work at my library (couldn't resist putting that in) for their Diploma in Creative Writing course, which helps writers develop their skills and explore their creativity. They are Witi Ihimaera, Albert Wendt, Robert Sullivan, Ken Larsen and Sean Sturm. Classes start next week at Manukau and Newmarket; phone 0800 62 62 52 or email info@manukau.ac.nz.

flier for MIT creative writing course

 
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