Sebastian

or the ’70s revisited

Sebastian by Cockney Rebel had an iconic status in Compatridia for a while. It was covered by Old V in the 70s and became a huge hit with the frustrated post-’60s youth (the ’60s: 1967-1973). The words to the song make absolutely no sense in Compatridese and I found out tonight why: the lyrics for the Compatridese cover were translated from the English probably by ear (I would not think the league surrounding Old V would bother to acquire the rights to the lyrics back in the ’70s), leading to many misunderstandings. For instance, Steve Harley screams at some point in the song:

Now we all know you, yeah

The Compatrido team heard

No, no, no, yeah!

and translated verbatim accordingly, turning a hazy with god-knows-what decadent aesthete’s almost dandyish come-hither call into an existentialist yawp about getting in line to die, about the ‘cursed journey that brings love’ (a wonderful turn of phrase, no kidding) and about the prison cell (capitalist?) society is. Or maybe the Old V team freely adapted it. Who knows. It’s just that this ‘no, no, no, yeah’ translation sounds too telling. But then, maybe the righteous left-wing Old V team were at the time high on something themselves. Who knows.

I discovered the song, both versions, only a couple of years ago. Coming home from gym, there was only a low light and music left on by Jod to greet me. I wanted to think of New York, the balmy weather helps. I tried Rhapsody in Blue, to recall Woody Allen’s beatific vision of Manhattan in Manhattan. It didn’t work, as I’ve got the wrong version in mp3. The lyrics about a ‘Bowery saloon’ in ‘Sebastian’ brought me to it. Then the song, seven minutes of epic howling, finished. The breeze once more carried with it the muezzin’s call through the open windows.

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