Friday

Corneille


Alors on vit chaque jour comme le dernier
So we live each day like it was the last
Et vous feriez pareil si seulement vous saviez
And you'd do the same if only you knew
Combien de fois la fin du monde nous a frôlés
How many times the end of the world almost hit us
Alors on vit chaque jour comme le dernier
So we live each day like it was the last
Parce qu'on vient de loin
Because we were already far gone

That's the chorus to Corneille's impressive song, Parce Qu'on Vient de Loin, literally, because we come from far. Corneille's family was murdered in Rwanda during that country's Reign of Madness. All of them. He survived by playing dead.

I like the guy's music, but I like it even more because of the reality in the meaning of his words, and because I realise that he might be using art to chase away the demons and get whole again, just like I'm trying to. So if some power-hungry thugs have fucked up your life by killing those you love, grieve--that's highly important--grieve, then grab a pen, a guitar, what have you, and live. Corneille did it. And so can we!

He says, Je dédie mon album à tous les gens qui se sentent oubliés par le reste du monde. J'ai réalisé à quel point le monde est injuste. Les médias ont parlé du génocide au Rwanda. Le plus gros génocide au monde après l'Holocauste. Mais ils ont bien plus parlé des évènements du 11 septembre. Différents gouvernements ont fourni des secours aux aEacute;tats-Unis. Des pays qui n'avaient pas réagi, en 1994, pendant le génocide rwandais. Mon album est la célébration de ma nouvelle vie. Une vie à laquelle les autres n'ont pas eu droit.

"I dedicate my album to all who feel neglected by the rest of the world. I've come to realise how unfair the world is. The media talked about the genocide in Rwanda. The biggest genocide in the world after the Holocaust. But they talked a lot more about the events of 11 September. Different governments provided help to the United States. Countries which had not done anything in 1994, during the Rwandan genocide. My album is the celebration of my new life. A life to which others were not given a right."

Three final points: One, the whole album is good to listen to. It's "smooth groove," if I had to define it. It's not a dirge, as one might expect. The prize, for me, is getting people to dance to death and grief. Corneille has succeeded just like Sylvia Plath in practising therapeutic art. Two, I have said before that

[ A political song might have an explicit message, but it is usually short, like “Free Him”, or “Down with Apartheid”, which we will then chant and sing as we dance, because the combination is important, from a Johannesburg picnic ground to a black church in Decatur Georgia. Pure singing isn't poetry. ]

I'm not about to change my mind. Corneille's album is superb in song and lyric. But singing, pure singing, is done by that person who can hum your soul to tears, happy or sad. I think Corneille can sing, because he chose the thornier path and he still comes out sounding good. That means a hell of a lot. And three, "Corneille, bravo. I personally find a lot of comfort and strength in your album. You've got quite a talent. When's the next album due?"