24 January 2006

john cale - "paris 1919" (from the paris 1919 lp, available for purchase here.)

john cale's paris 1919 albums is one of the few i can think of that could come w/ annotations.

that said, on the title track, i don't think one needs to know what "paris 1919" refers to, if there was a william rogers, and what--or where--beaujolais is.

the song begins, "she makes me so unsure of myself." right there, one has something to latch onto. the first verse is about a confounding woman, who may or may not be a ghost, a striking figure who appears and disappears at her whim and never quite says or does what one might expect. the chorus is a singalong, cale claiming that he's a bishop, come to claim the ghost in the name of the church. metaphor, then.

the music reminds one of cale's classical training, violins sawing away as a brass figure undergirds the track. combined w/ the theme of the lyric, "paris 1919" becomes a march, a search for the grail, one perhaps quixotically trying to find a sacred icon and steal it away. as i walk around lately, i often hear this song matching my step, as i bear my chalice safely through a throng of foes.*

*james joyce, "araby," 'dubliners' (new york: penguin, 1993) 23.

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