Jesus ‘n’ Mo, Calvin ‘n’ Hobbes, and Bonnie ‘n’ Clyde

September 10, 2014 • 4:58 am

This morning we have a fortuitous conjunction of three pairs of individuals—fortuitous because Albatross 2.0 will be done today and I will have little time to post here. Do not expect Deep Thoughts (which, according to philosophers and theologians, I don’t have anyway).

First the latest Jesus and Mo, relevant to our discussion of theology and the defense of atheism by Nick Cohen we discussed the other day. The artist adds this to the strip:

A resurrection from 2009, prompted by this great piece by Nick Cohen.

2014-09-10

And here is the latest Calvin and Hobbes, kindly provided by reader jsp. Here Calvin unwillingly strays into First Amendment territory. The Pledge, which includes the words, “One nation, under God,” has been repeatedly subject to litigation. The courts have ruled that no student can be compelled to say it, though it’s still controversial. 

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Finally, for some reason I was reading about Serge Gainsbourg  (1928-1991) the other night, a fascinating man who was a beloved French artist and songwriter, as well as a roué, an alcoholic, and a great friend of police and cabdrivers. I claim that only in France would he have achieved that renown, but he had a colorful life (read this article in Vanity Fair).

Gainsbourg was the lover of both Brigitte Bardot and, famously, Jane Birkin, with whom he had his biggest hit, the highly erotic duo “Je t’aime. . . moi non plus” (roughly, “I love you: me neither.”) You can listen to the released version here, but warning: NSFW. DO NOT LISTEN IN THE OFFICE. Despite (or perhaps because of) its sounds of love, up to orgasm, it topped the European charts, even making #1 in the UK.  The song was first recorded in 1968 with Bardot, but not released at her request because it was too salacious and she was still married to someone else (you can hear that version here, which was finally released in 1986). The famous version with Birkin was released in 1969. I remember hearing it in the U.S., but I think it was banned on most radio stations.

But while trawling YouTube for Gainsbourg songs, I found this one, which I’d forgotten. It ranks among the worst rock songs of all time in any language. The song is “Bonnie and Clyde” (1968), performed in French by Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot. The music video is so dreadful that makes me laugh, especially when, in the chorus, they pronounce “Clyde” with two syllables. I also love the way Bardot pronounces “Bonnie” as “Bunny.” Have a listen for as long as you can stand it. Of course it was a hit in France; they’re weird about these things. After all, they love Johnny Hallyday.

p.s. If you want to see Gainsbourg in his randiest drunkenness, watch this famous clip when he met Whitney Houston on a French television station (especially 1:17!).  Also mildly salacious.

35 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo, Calvin ‘n’ Hobbes, and Bonnie ‘n’ Clyde

  1. The best use of the song “Je t’aime” and in the defense of science is in a Potholer 54 video that rebuts the claim by Dr Richard Kent that fire breathing dragons were actually dinosaurs whose nostrils caught fire due to heavy breathing.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9w26JXXpWU
    (Epic Creationist Fails of Our Time — #2)
    You can’t POE this stuff. You just have to mock it.

  2. And I think it’s Brigitte with an “i”. Looking forward to listening later in the day ( maybe NOT on the train into Toronto…)

    p.s. The French also love(d) Jerry Lewis…

    1. Sometimes I wonder if artists like Lewis gain from their translation and dubbing into other languages. Just a hypothesis.

    2. Re- Jerry Lewis:

      Well, it seems to be pretty much a known fact in the US that we love Jerry Lewis but I’m 32 years old and the only time I’ve heard of him is when I’m told the French love him.

      I’m not a weird cave-living French either… I don’t know anyone who knows who Jerry Lewis is.

  3. I find the American Pledge of Allegiance absurd anyway. Arguably it should be the motto of those who have come of age and volunteered to defend the country, but to force it out of children who have neither chosen to be born in the USA, nor really understand the implications of what they’re bawling, is bollocks. It’s a kind of prayer, with or without the God in it.

        1. My own version, keeping the metric scheme basically intact:

          I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America and to the Republic from which it was formed: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

          b&

  4. Lemon Incest (1984), performed as a duo with his 12-year old daughter Charlotte, was one of his most provocative songs. It was accused of glamorizing pedophilia and incest. The title is a play on words in French in the chorus between “Un zeste de citron” (“A lemon zest”) and “Inceste de citron” (“lemon incest”). It spent 18 weeks in the top 50, 4 weeks in the number 2 spot. Yes, France is very different from the USA.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnKt84AdUHA

    Les Sucettes (1965) was an earlier scandal where he mocks the innocence of the 18 year old ye-ye singer France Gall by having her ostensibly sing about a girl Annie who loves sucking on licorice lollipops. The lyrics actually refer to oral sex with the sweet liquid flowing down her throat.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nr0dUcrAU0

    And my personal favorite is his first big hit “Le Poinconneur des Lilas” (1959). It describes the meaningless existence of a ticket puncher at a subway station who punches holes in tickets all day long but thinks about one day putting a hole through his own head to end the monotony of his miserable existence. How young he looks, before the ravages of alcoholism became apparent.

    1. Charlotte Gainsbourg grew up to be a terrific actress.
      Her performances in “Jane Eyre”, “The Cement Garden”, and “AntiChrist” are remarkable

  5. The Bonnie & Clyde video – what got me was the spaghetti western whistle effects in the sound track. Because every American movie has to be a Western, even if it’s set in depression era central states.

  6. Calvin & Hobbes: There was a longer version of this that I could not have made up, but it has absolutely vanished from the ether. Plus, I used to have it taped to my door in the late ’80’s. The only references to it now are ones I’ve made here, but I’ll repeat it in case anyone else remembers it.

    I pledge allegiance
    To Queen Fragg
    And her mighty state of hysteria

    And to the Republican Witch she stands
    With Liberty and Just Us for oil.

  7. Whilst I enjoy the site very much I cannot quite get my head around the musical opinions expressed by Jerry. I hadn’t heard this before, haven’t heard much Gainsbourg stuff at all, but it’s rather good, mainly that locomotive riff in the background which is terrific. Very un-dated, which is often a side-effect of the artist in question being slightly mental and ‘out-of-time’ in the first place. It reminds me of someone modern I can’t quite put my finger on, although it’s also got a Can-ny, motorik vibe. And the video is surely tongue-in-cheek…I can’t understand how Jerry thinks this is the worst rock & roll song ever!
    There – I’ve planted my flag in the sand. I think it’s rather good. It probably wasn’t Jerry’s intention but I’m genuinely glad he posted it. Cheers Jerry!

    1. I agree, and I’m rather sad to see the good doctor repeating a lot of tired clichés about the French and their popular culture while assuming his questionable aesthetic judgments will be widely shared. France has its own musical traditions, and a country that has embraced the talents of such brilliant singer-songwriters as Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, George Brassens, Charles Aznavour, Leo Ferré, Barbara, and Brigitte Fontaine, to name a few, has nothing to be ashamed of where popular music is concerned. Gainsbourg was fully the equal of those great artists as a writer and performer, while some of his songs, such as Bonnie and Clyde, were meant to be ephemeral and tongue in cheek. By the way there’s nothing unusual or laughable about singing more than one note on a single syllable, it has been common practice since at least the days of Gregorian chant!

      Still an interesting post, and a great website which I will continue to consult daily. Thank you!

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