Friday 11th January 2013
The music played in the bar and restaurants here starts to dominate after a while. Music is such a personal thing that it's odd to be subjected to someone else's taste (or someone else's guess at what your taste might be) for such a long time with no real means of escape.
Although we haven't had to endure the same song over and over again as we did at lunch on our first full day here, there is a very limited repertoire available and the same stuff comes up quite regularly.
Indeed "How can I live without you?" was playing (only once this time) during breakfast. I started signing along, but not really knowing the words I made up my own version - "How can I live without you? I don't really know. How can I live without you? It will be tough at first, but over time I will probably get used to it" and so on. People would see good money to see me do stuff like this, but my wife seemed unimpressed. Even though she gets this gold 24 hours a day. For free. What's her problem?
I then suggested that the song might be better if it was called, "How can you live without me?" It would be a subtle change of lyric but one that would add a whole new meaning to the song. Especially if played at a funeral. I told her that I was going to record my own version of this hit, with this change of lyrics and I wanted it played as my coffin goes into the flames or is lowered into the grave. It would be nicely accusatory. Now I'm gone I assume your life is ruined and it will be hard for you to go on too. At the very least I think my living wife should join me in my grave, but to be honest all of the lives of my friends and family are so meaningless that perhaps you should all be killing yourselves right now, rather than pretending to cry and looking forward to the buffet. I suggest that we follow the Egyptian example and you all just get locked in the tomb with me. There's a pyramid outside. Get in it. It's made out of Ferrero Rocher as a nice nod to one of my routines, but I think it will be apt and chillingly ironic if my wife dies in it. I want all of you in there. You are my slaves and I am your Pharoah. Your Pharoah Rocher (this is my father-in-law's joke by the way, so all credit to him for coming up with that. Didn't think I'd get to use it, but look the opportunity presented itself. He will be delighted)
It would be cool, at least, to use your own funeral as an occasion to make everyone feel worse.
For the last few evenings we've had a drink or two before dinner in the bar where the Maldivan lady still enquires what love will be like on Jupiters. She takes a break and they always play the same compilation which includes "Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. I've always viewed it as a slightly mawkish attempt to promote racial unity, though the analogy of black and white keys on the piano doesn't seem to give all races equity - not only are the white keys more predominant and arguably more important, there are also just two colours there leaving out anyone with skin of any shade in between. I think maybe a song about light and prisms might be more effective. Light looks one colour, but put it through a prism and it's made up of all the colours. Although not brown or black, which might look a bit exclusive, especially given light is kind of white. This is harder than it looks. How about a song about a paint pallet where all the colours exist side by side and paint a picture together, but if you mix them all together they come out brown.... hmmm actually sounds like something the BNP might take up as their theme song - keep all the colours separate or look what happens!
It's very hard to promote racial equality via an analogous pop song and I shouldn't knock McCartney and Wonder for their admirable, but flawed attempt.
But having listened to the song daily for a week or so I am beginning to wonder if I've got it all wrong anyway. I'd assumed it was about race relations, but I think I'm wrong.
It goes (forgive me if I get this slightly wrong - internet access is poor and I can't google it)
"Ebony and Ivory, live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my pia-no keyboard, oh Lord, why don't we?"
I had assumed in the past that the "we" was general rather than specific there, but I think this might just be about Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder not getting along personally. They've been stuck in a room together, trying to write a hit record. You'd think it would be easy given their individual track record, but they just aren't getting on at all. Wonder is annoyed that McCartney keeps comparing him to the incidental keys on the piano and claims he is all the regular non-sharp or flat ones. "It's not cos you're black and I'm white, Stevie, it's because I am more melodious and you're a bit unexpected and surprising."
"You be ebony then, Paul."
"No, I am ivory."
"What would Linda think of that?"
And McCartney gets riled by the ridiculous way that Wonder insists on pronouncing piano. "It's Pyano, but Pi-a-no Stevie!"
"That's what I'm saying Paul, Pi-a-no."
"I agree Pi-a-no".
"You're saying it wrong."
In the end their only way to get out of the studio is to record a song about their disputes and the fact that they've used a musical metaphor to highlight how much they dislike each other is very apt.
It's just a song about how much Wonder and McCartney despise each other personally, misinterpreted by idiots as some kind of cack-handed attempt to make a comment about racial issues.
I may be wrong, but I don't think they ever collaborated again.
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