Friday, 20 August 2010

Brassens, Basher and the gorilla

Basher McKenzie has posted this clip, of Georges Brassens singing his song "Gare au gorille", and defies his readers to say what the song is about.  Sex and male fear.  Er that's it.  Easy really.  Why did you choose that theme, Basher?  Anyway, for my monoglot readers, of whom there may still be a few, the song has been translated into English, several times in fact, in my view the best translation was by the late great Jake Thackray, who as you know dealt with themes of sex and death and male fear in his songs, and who dealt with them lightly, so that when you read his translation  you want to laugh despite the theme, but when you hear Brassens you just shiver.

Through the bars of a large enclosure

The village ladies intently stared,
Where a gorilla with massive composure
Was impassively combing his hair.
They were shamelessly interested,
Eyeing devoutly a certain spot,
But my mother's especially requested
I refrain from telling you what.
Brother Gorilla!

The door of the circus lock-up,
Where the noble brute had been put,
By an administrational cock-up
Was unwisely left unshut
"I'm going to lose it at last," he cried,
Swinging lissomely out of his cage,
Referring, of course, to his chastity:
He was just at the difficult age
Brother Gorilla!

Those self-same ladies who previously
Had been licking their lips from afar
Did a bunk, which shows how devious
And whimsical women are.
In the path of the lovesick monkey
There were two who wouldn't budge:
A little old lady, all shrunken,
And a petty sessions judge.
Brother Gorilla!

The old girl said "It would be surprising
And unlikely in the extreme
If anyone found me appetising,
And beyond my wildest dreams!"
The judge intoned with tranquillity:
"To take me for a female ape
Would be the height of improbability".
Even judges make mistakes.
Brother Gorilla!

It would be curious and uncanny,
Say, if the choice were up to you
To ravish a judge or a granny
And you didn't know which to do.
If I were in such a position
And the choice had got to be mine,
I'd beg the old lady's permission
But go for grandma every time.
Brother Gorilla!

Though the gorilla is very proficient
In the role of a paramour
His mental equipment's deficient
And his eyesight's awfully poor.
With a Palaeolithic leer
He gave the old lady the miss
And, grabbing the judge by the ear,
Gave him an introductory kiss.
Brother Gorilla!

In time the gorilla's desires
Were more or less gratified.
The judge, being rather biased,
Couldn't see the funny side.
He was kicking and screaming and wailing
When his moment of truth had come,
Like those wretches he orders daily
To be taken away and hung.
Brother Gorilla!

btw in French the word "guenon" means both "female ape" and "very ugly woman", which Brassens plays on remorselessly.  Listen up.

also: Basher is now calling himself "a Labour activist" instead of "the Labour candidate", thanks for reading this blog Bashy babes

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