Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lo Jai on Bastille Day

Back in Bookmen Days, we in the receiving department hosted a poetry reading on Bastille Day every year, and cajoled someone new every year from the library division or the front office or somewhere, to recite a poem, in French, before we began slicing the baguettes and pouring the wonderful coffee. Apricot marmalade was also on hand, and perhaps even unsalted butter—though I doubt it. We were warehouse workers, after all.

Those days are long gone, of course, but Bastille Day returns again and again. I’ve chosen a short poem this year, it goes like this.

Nos mouches savent des chansons
Que leur apprirent en Norvège
Les mouches ganiques qui sont
Les divinités de la neige.

I don’t speak French myself, and you’re probably wondering if I recited the poem at all. Actually, no. But I’m listening to a remarkable album by a French band, now also long gone, called Lo Jai. Not the second album, with its slick Leger cover, but their first album, which seems to erupt from the hills of the Auverne with the cheerful, rugged, jarring, and irascible sound of the pipe and the hurdy gurdy.

Another very exciting French album that will be hitting the turntable soon is Face to Face, a collection of duets by Eddie Louiss (Hammond organ) and Richard Galliano (accordion.) It’s incredible.

And having logged nine hours on various books today, I think the time has come for a glass of wine. Cote du Rhone?

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