Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Music and the Universal Language

Music is truly the universal language... but when sung, it usually requires a spoken language as well. One of the things I am realizing is that America has exported culture like there's no tomorrow. It's inescapable.

I was surprised when I went to a live jazz/rock concert at a local cafe-bar, only to realize that all the songs were being sung in English. Literally, all the songs were American hit songs. It was even more jarring when the singer would finish a song and then immediately lean into the mike and say, "hvala lijepo" (thanks a lot). The worst part was that most of the Hercegovinians in the bar knew more of the words to the songs than I did!!

So a lot of bands like to cover American classics. okay, I get it. But then last night I met a musician from Belgium who played me some songs by his band-- and they are all in English!! Not covers of English songs, but original songs, written in English. Apparently this is common in Belgium-- "I know only a few good bands who sing in Flemish," he explained. "And we're very influenced by Bob Dylan, so it just seemed natural."

Mr. Tamborine Man, play a song for me-- ali na bosanskom, molim (but in Bosnian, please).