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Dear Jukebox Fest Writer

Posted on 2014.04.28 at 02:17
I really would prefer you to write the best story you can, and one you're happy with, rather than trying to do something that doesn't suit you to fit what I asked for - optional details really are entirely optional here. I'm most interested in what you, dear writer, make of the song. (Gen, m/f, m/m and f/f are all equally welcome.)

Flowers in the Mist | It’s not the flower, it’s not the fog
Poem by Bai Juyi, set by Huang Tzu
YouTube or Slacker

A flower and yet not a flower.
A mist and yet not a mist.
It comes at midnight
    and leaves at daybreak.
Coming like spring dreams,
    it does not stay long.
Going away like morning clouds,
    it leaves no traces.
(trans Ming Dong Gu)

The bloom is not a bloom,
The mist not mist.
At midnight she comes,
And goes again at dawn.
She comes like a spring dream - how long will she stay?
She goes like morning cloud, without a trace.
(http://www.chinese-poems.com/bo6.html)

Flowers not flowers, fog not fog,
Midnight comes then goes with daybreak.
We arrive like spring dreams countless times,
Vanish like dawn clouds seeking nothing.
(http://www.mountainsongs.net/poem_.php?id=285)


I’ve always loved this haunting song. As you can see from the translations above, there’s a fair choice of interpretation possible - was Bai Juyi writing about the moon, or an assignation, or a dream, or just half-glimpsed flowers through a barely perceptible mist?



J’ai vu le loup, le renard chanter
Traditional
YouTube

This is widespread song, found in many versions (the hare, for example, is sometimes a weasel). Le Poème Harmonique, who perform the version I’ve linked, provide an English translation in the liner notes:

I saw the wolf, the fox and the hare,
I saw the wolf and the fox carousing;
Unseen, I saw them.

I heard the wolf, the fox and the hare,
I heard the wolf and the fox singing;
And I sang with them.

I saw the wolf, the fox and the hare,
I saw the wolf and the fox dancing;
And I led the dance.


Ingriguing, isn’t it? Who is the singer, and what is their relationship with the wolf and the fox? Is the singer being seduced into joining them, or was the singer really in charge all along? Are the animals real animals, or nature spirits, or codenames in some espionage thriller? Nicknames for the players in some political game?

The lyrics as sung:

C'est dans neuf ans, je m'en irai
J'ai vu le loup, le renard chanter
J'ai vu le loup, le renard, le lièvre,
Jai vu le loup, le renard cheuler:
C'est moi-meme qui les ai rebueille.

Jai ouï le loup, le renard, le lievre,
Jai ouï le loup, le renard chanter:
C'est moi-meme qui les ai rechigneès

J'ai vu le loup, le renard, le lièvre,
Jai vu le loup, le renard danser:
C'est moi-meme qui les ai revirès

My attempt at a literal translation (before trusting it too much, bear in mind my non-existent French):

It is in nine years, I will go
I saw the wolf, the fox singing
I saw the wolf, the fox, the hare,
I saw the wolf, the fox drinking:
It was I that spied on them.

I have heard the wolf, the fox, the hare,
I have heard the wolf, the fox singing:
It was I that imitated them.

I saw the wolf, the fox, the hare,
I saw the wolf, the fox dancing:
It was I that made them dance.




Lili Marleen / Death is a master from Germany
Ute Lemper
Grooveshark

Although this particularly haunting and disturbing version of Lili Marleen is, naturally, about WWII, I am not asking for a literal interpretation, but rather something dealing with the broader themes of love and war and death, and taking its cues from the music: there's the love song aspect the Lili Marleen part (though that itself becomes rather martial in the introduction), the way the music veers off into horror, the quietly reflective and chilling Todesfugue section (and Celan's words are certainly evocative and ambiguous enough to inspire any number of interpretations)...

Lyrics as sung:

Beid der Kaserne, bei dem großen Tor,
steht eine Laterne und steht si noch davor;
dann wollen wir uns weiderseh'n,
zu zweit bei der Laterne steh'n,
wie einst Lili Marleen.

Unsre beiden Schatten sah'n wie einer aus,
daß wir lieb uns hatten, das sah man gleich daraus,
und sollte dir ein Leid gescheh'n,
werd ich bei der laterne steh'n,
wie einst Lili Marleen.

Underneath the lamplight, by the barrack gate,
Darling I remember the way you used to wait;
'twas there that you kissed me tenderly
and you loved me, you'd always be
my Lili of the lamplight, my own Lili Marleen.

Unsre beiden Schatten sah'n wie einer aus,
daß wir lieb uns hatten, das sah man gleich daraus,
und sollte dir ein Leid gescheh'n,
werd ich bei der laterne steh'n,
wie einst Lili Marleen.

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany
we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink and we drink you
death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue
he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim true
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in the air,
he plays with the serpents and daydreams
der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland.



Nuit d’Ivresse
Hector Berlioz
YouTube or, with different singers, YouTube

Anyone curious to find out more about Les Troyens, the opera this is from, can read about it here (http://operalively.com/forums/content.php/491-les-troyens). For everyone else - it’s loosely based on parts of the Aeneid, and in this scene Aeneas and Dido are wandering about in the moonlight being happy together: very shortly Aeneas is going to be reminded he should be heading off to Italy, so that his descendants can found Rome, and Dido is going to kill herself, cursing him as she dies. None of which is necessary for your story (unless you happen to like either the opera or the Aeneid - I love both, but neither is in any way required). What really struck me about this is that it is, on the one hand, a very beautiful love song, and on the other none of the lovers they refer to have happy endings - even without Mercury putting in an appearance at the end, this entire expression of eternal love is made up of references to love failing to work out.

Translation (courtesy of Opera Lively):

DIDO, AENEAS
Endlessly intoxicating night of ecstasy!
Golden Phoebe, and you, great stars of her court,
Shine upon us your blessed light;
Heavenly flowers, smile upon eternal love!

DIDO
On such a night, crowned with golden laburnum,
Your mother Venus followed the fair Anchises
To the groves of Mount Ida.

AENEAS
On such a night, headlong in joyous love,
Troilus came to the foot of Troy’s walls
To await the lovely Cressida.

DIDO, AENEAS
Endlessly intoxicating night of ecstasy!
Golden Phoebe, etc.

AENEAS
On such a night, chaste Diana
Finally shed her diaphanous veil,
In the sight of Endymion.

DIDO
On such a night the son of Cythera
Received coldly the rapturous tenderness
Of Queen Dido!

AENEAS
And on the same night, alas! the unjust queen,
Accusing her lover, obtained from him with ease,
The sweetest of forgiveness.

DIDO, AENEAS
Endlessly intoxicating night of ecstasy, etc.

(They stroll slowly to the back of the stage, embracing; then, still singing, they exit. Just as the two lovers, now out of sight backstage, come to the end of their song, Mercury suddenly appears, bathed in a ray of moonlight, close to a broken column on which hang Aeneas’ weapons. Approaching the column, he strikes the shield twice with his staff, giving forth a prolonged and lugubrious sound.)

MERCURY
(in a solemn voice, extending his arm out to sea.)
Italy! Italy! Italy!

(He exits.)




Le Roi d’Aquitaine
Kurt Weill
Grooveshark or YouTube (part of the song only, from 0:27 to 1:10)

A grey duck, a blue duck, a white duck...
The grey one walks behind the the blue one ahead.
The white one is the biggest, I'll sell it for twenty francs.
The blue one is quite small, I'll sell it for six francs.

The King of Aquitaine,
if he comes to the market
to serve the queen,
he'll send for me.
The King of Aquitaine
will take my hand.
Too bad for the queen,
tomorrow.

A grey prince, a blue prince, a white prince...
The white one has rubies, and the blue, diamonds.
The grey one has his crown and his sword at his side.
The blue loves me the best, and I love best the white.

The King of Aquitaine,
if he comes to the market
to serve the queen,
he'll send for me.
The King of Aquitaine
will take my hand.
Too bad for the queen,
tomorrow.


Surely this could be the base for a fascinating fairytale, whether you want to invent a traditional tale, or tell it at an angle: are the ducks enchanted princes, or do the princes share only the colour coding? Will the king put aside the queen for the duck seller, or does he want the duck seller for something else to the detriment of the queen? Perhaps this is only an incident in the story of one of the ducks/princes, or in the relationship of the queen and the duck seller? Or is the duck seller merely idly dreaming?

The lyrics as sung:

Un canard gris, un canard bleu, un canard blanc...
Le gris marche derrière et le bleu va devant.
C'est le blanc le plus gros, je le vendrai vingt francs.
Le bleu est tout petit, je le vendrai six francs.

Le Roi d'Aquitaine,
s'il vient au marché
pour servir la Reine,
m'enverra chercher.
Le Roi d'Aquitaine
me prendra la main.
Tant pis pour la Reine,
demain.

Un prince gris, un prince bleu, un prince blanc...
Le blanc a des rubis et le bleu des diamants.
Le gris a sa couronne et son épée au flanc.
Le bleu m'aime le mieux et j'aime mieux le blanc.

Le Roi d'Aquitaine,
s'il vient au marché
pour servir la Reine,
m'enverra chercher.
Le Roi d'Aquitaine
me prendra la main.
Tant pis pour la Reine,
demain.




In General

Apart from that, this is my normal list for all other-people-writing-fanfic-for-me occasions. Things I like (provided only as indicative of my taste, not in any way as particular requirements of your story): established relationships, smart and competent characters, witty banter, slash, political intrigue, moral ambiguity, apparently simple conversations with a great deal going on under the surface, angst if done with restraint, difficult decisions with no right answer (I think I mentioned moral ambiguity?), metaphor, clever use of literary allusions, relationships where each party thinks the other has all the power. Endings can be happy, sad, ambiguous, or anywhere in between. Let's see, what else? Fierce loyalty (the tear the world apart for you variety, not the sit here passively putting up with anything variety), complicated love/hate relationships with lots of backstory, unflappable characters, arrogance if the party concerned has the requisite ability to back it up, committed partnerships between people who see the world at the same angle (even if they aren't always on the same side)...

Things I’d prefer you avoided: I’m not terribly keen on mpreg or stories told in the 2nd person, and I do have something of an embarrassment squick. Oh, all right, I also don't tend to like issuefic, but I'm not sure that's something people generally set out to write deliberately - one person's issuefic is another's searingly honest portrayal.

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