Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Multi-Lingual Music is Poetry

The song that first came to mind when asked what music classifies as poetry, is a song by Regina Spektor titled "Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don't Leave Me)." The song appears on one of her most recent albums What we Saw from the Cheap Seats produced in 2016. Spektor was born in the Soviet Union and was forced to immigrate to New York, as there was an increasing oppression against Jews in Russia. This can account for her wide range of languages and genres produced in her music. This includes a wide range of classical, rock, and modern pop incorporating various instruments such as pianos and guitars.

In this particular song she takes the listener on a trip through two different locations, France and New York. She references Bowery, Lexington, and Bronx in New York, Paris is spoken of with the assistance of French lyrics. The French phrase repeated in the chorus is "Ne me quitte pas, mon cher", which translates to "Don't leave me, my dear," hence the title of the song. Out of context, this lyric gives of a desperate and longing tone of someone who is begging someone not to leave. Playing the actual song, however, it is clearly given the opposite vibe. Spektor is cheerfully singing and humming to the tune of trumpets and drums. The verses describe supposed unhappy situations, yet they're followed by a pleasant alternative. An example of this is the line, "The kids go sledding down snow covered slopes... And yes, they know that it will melt. And yes they know New York will thaw. But if you're a friend of any sort. Then play along and catch a cold."

Spektor's "Ne Me Quitte Pas" supports the claim that music is poetry. She incorporates a variety of artistic methods into this song, using repetition and a satirical tone in her lyrics in contrast to her instrumentals. Songs and poetry in a foreign language typically steer uneducated audiences away. But when they take the time to understand the meaning of the French and the tone of the song as a whole, it is clear how talented Spektor is. Poetry isn't supposed to be traditional, it can be interpreted and manipulated by the audience. Since the French included in this song heightens this fact to non-French speakers, makes multi-lingual music being classified as poetry impossible to deny.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is cool that you brought up how the delivery of her lyrics completely changes the meaning of them. I think it is interesting to think about how you can completely change the tone of poetry just based on how you read it. A lot of irony and depth can be added to seemingly simple lyrics. We kind of explored this idea in class when we briefly did group readings and that one group had the one white girl read the word "dark". Also I love this song!