tremble clef

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nouvelle Vague, "Don't Go" (2006)

Once, years ago, complaining about my life, I misspoke and said that I had "so much work, it was coming out my yazoo."

That yazoo was firmly planted, for much of yesterday, on three long flights. Aside from the screaming baby on one of them -- I don't know why they can't make infants travel in cargo -- it wasn't too bad. Exit row seats are great: no one in front of you to cramp your style. However, the people behind you can be a problem, such as the woman who kept poking me in the lower back. Moreover, she felt compelled to keep going through the seat pocket in front of her. What was she expecting to find every few minutes? There're no magical first class upgrades stashed away in there. It felt like she was sticking her hands down my pants and fingering my ass every few minutes. I contemplated turning around and, in an effort to shame her into stopping, shriek, "LADY!! Stop with the prostate massages already! I DON'T LIKE YOU THAT WAY!!!" Instead, I just passively-aggressively reclined my seat further. Maybe I even learned to like it.

On the original version of "Don't Go" by Yazoo -- called "Yaz" in the US, and if this had happened all over the world I would have been spared my wazoo humiliation -- Alison Moyet sung with a kind of desperate, anguished hysteria. Frenchmen Marc Collins and Olivier Libaux's group, after one album on which they reinterpreted new wave classics in bossa nova style, has already become a bit of a predictable proposition by this point. Yet, their cover of Yazoo, on the second album Bande à Part, is surprising and not unrevelatory. Choosing to use a male vocalist -- Gerald Toto -- instead of drawing from their usual stable of sweet-voiced and intentionally vapid female singers, Nouvelle Vague tweaks "Don't Go" so that it sounds more hopeless. "Don't go," but she may already have left. Gerald's voice is imploring, but bruised and resigned; accordingly, unlike Alison, who alternates between singing the title phrase by ascending and descending the notes, Gerald sticks to the latter. Indeed, he only goes up the scale exactly once, at what is almost the precise mid-point of the song; his voice turns more tremulous, and sounds like it would break with the effort. Almost all of Nouvelle Vague's tracks have struck me as enjoyable but, yes, kitschy and thus fairly disposable; but this, in packing an emotional punch, is likely to be something I'll listen to and treasure for a while.


  • This is a weird track, in part because I've never understood Moyet as singing "with a kind of desperate, anguished hysteria" until you wrote this. In my mind, "Don't Go" is about the euphoria of new love, the joy of knowing that someone you care about is near you, the ability to have sex solve all problems, and the pain of temporary departure. (After all, people have jobs and stuff, and workaday separation seems all sorts of wrong in new relationships.)

    Obviously, this is different. But it's the first time in ages that I feel that a cover actively violates my understanding of a song, as opposed to supplementing it.

    By Anonymous esque, at 5:50 AM  

  • Huh. Maybe you're an optimist and I'm deeply pessimistic. I've always thought "Don't Go" was really hysterical sounding (in a good way), and there's something about the way Alison alternates between "don't GO!" and "don't go." that makes me think, a bit simplistically, of a schizo.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 5:46 PM  

  • Which continent are you on now! Hints please. Will you be at Melody Records? I am ready to bump into you. heh heh

    By Blogger xolondon, at 6:26 AM  

  • That blog entry was coming from INSIDE YOUR HOUSE.

    (Check your email.)

    By Blogger Brittle, at 10:46 PM  

  • First, infants on flights. Although I am more kindly disposed toward children than I once was, I still think everyone concerned -- children, parents, other passengers -- would benefit from flight attendants passing out tranquilizing substances in the appropriate doses. Laudanum: poised to make a come-back on long flights.

    And Yaz(oo)'s "Don't Go" -- I don't know about hysterical but always struck me as anguished indeed.

    By Anonymous aurora floyd, at 11:07 AM  

  • I probably shouldn't have called Alison Moyet hysterical. She can squash me like I'm a fly.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 4:43 AM  

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