14. Lesser known clones of Dylan

Posted on 18/01/2017

The shy Nobel Laureate Dylan said that you have to write 100 bad songs to write one good one. Thats why he prefers painting and sculpture. But thats not a very good general rule as most people are not as good artists as Dylan or, I hear some of you say, such hit and miss song writers.

I think 1 in 10 is probably a better average, though that sepends on how self critical one is. The French novelist Flaubert is reputed to have spent a day agonising over a single word. This post is really about Alain Bashung rather than Dylan. Bashung was by no means a clone of anybody, but he made fun of himself as such.

Bashung wrote an excellent song called ‘c’est la faute a Dylan’ (Its Dylan’s fault’. The chorus runs:

‘sing along Bob

Sing along Zimmerman

J’suis cowboy a Paname

mais c’est la faute a Dylan’

Bashung blames Dylan for the fact that he is himself becoming a Dylan clone with a Panama Hat on.            Zimmerman is by the way Dylan’s maiden name. The song goes on to say that he, Bashung, expects to end up a a hotel porter. All because of Dylan. This is just a video of pictures: I cannot find a live version by Bashung.

Presumably its the price of fame that you get blamed for things that are not remotely your fault. Although Bashung’s song is very much a lighthearted joke, it begins by saying that ‘he left his squaw’ at a farm near Clermont Ferrand. Recent surveys do not show any Native Americans living near that charming town in the Massif Central!

Bashung is a good place to look for excellent songs that are hardly ever heard outside Francophonia (France, Belgium and bits of ex French colonies). [I must say I did not know, until I looked at a list of his song lyrics, that he also wrote a good song based on Blah Blah Blah (see my post 2)].

His song A Ostende is vividly sad:

‘my anchor is hooked in the belly of old Catalonia

which bleeds brick red and my hear forever anchored

deep in that later afternoon when you took my heart

from the far end of your Belgium’

I realise those words dont make literal sense, but they convey strong emotion. His whispered ‘a Ostende’ (at Ostend) to finish the song is very moving. Bashung was a great singer and songwriter. [a lifelong smoker he died in 2010 at only about 60).






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