Andries Bezuidenhout. Die spanning tussen blow en puff

Vreemd dat Amy Winehouse my vanoggend by Gershwin uitbring. Ook Leonard Cohen en Jack Parow. Wat ʼn kombinasie!

Ek luister na “Back to black”, titelsnit van haar album met dieselfde naam. Dis ʼn hartseer, sordid, grafiese weergawe van die einde van ʼn verhouding:

He left no time to regret
Kept his dick wet
With his same old safe bet
Me and my head high
And my tears dry
Get on without my guy
You went back to what you knew
So far removed from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track
My odds are stacked
I’ll go back to black

Dan is daar die deel van die liriek wat my die meeste intrigeer:

I love you much
It’s not enough
You love blow and I love puff
And life is like a pipe
And I’m a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside

“Blow” is natuurlik kokaïen en “puff” is dagga. Nogal ʼn goeie beskrywing vir die verskille tussen twee mense. Die een is vinnig en selfversekerd, die ander is stadig en paranoïes. Heel poëties. Hierdie latere deel van die liriek gee ook die lyn (no pun intended) “Me and my head high” ʼn ander betekenis.

Amy Winehouse se grinterige lirieke staan in teenstelling met die gesofistikeerde soul en Motown-klank van die verwerkings, asook die tegniese kwaliteit van haar sangstem. Maar ek begin dink daar is dalk meer aan haar lirieke as wat ʼn mens op die oppervlak raakluister. Blow en puff klink vir my na ʼn verwysing van ʼn klassieke liriek deur George en Ira Gershwin – gesing deur onder andere Louis Armstrong en Ella Fitzgerald, asook Fred Astaire en Ginger Rogers – genaamd “Let’s call the whole thing off”:

Things have come to a pretty pass
Our romance is growing flat,
For you like this and the other
While I go for this and that,
Goodness knows what the end will be
Oh I don’t know where I’m at
It looks as if we two will never be one
Something must be done

En dan die klassieke lyne wat almal ken:

You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto,
Let’s call the whole thing off

Indien Amy Winehouse die verwysing na die Gershwin classic bedoel (en haar musikale kennis van die genre maak dat dit nie onwaarskynlik is nie), is haar liriek nogal ʼn siniese stukkie kommentaar op die oorspronklike, met Britse slang wat die opstuur van plaaslike Amerikaanse aksente in die oorspronklike vervang.

En nou kom my eie vrye assosiasie. Bogenoemde laat my weer aan Leonard Cohen se “Is this what you wanted” dink, van sy album New skin for the old ceremony:

You were the promise at dawn,
I was the morning after.
You were Jesus Christ my Lord,
I was the money lender.
You were the sensitive woman,
I was the very reverend Freud.
You were the manual orgasm,
I was the dirty little boy.

You were Marlon Brando,
I was Steve McQueen.
You were K.Y. Jelly,
I was Vaseline.
You were the father of modern medicine,
I was Mr. Clean.
You where the whore and the beast of Babylon,
I was Rin Tin Tin.

And is this what you wanted
to live in a house that is haunted
by the ghost of you and me?

Die teenstellings tog. Ek skat opposites attract, maar dalk net aan die begin. Laastens, dalk maar net om by die sordid dele van Amy Winehouse aan te sluit (en seker om iets Afrikaans in die mix te gooi), niemand anders as Jack Parow nie. En as iemand “rap” weer “kletsrym” noem, ry ek met ʼn gepimpde bling-bling blooming Hummer oor die mens.

Ek drink Klipdrif, jy drink Peroni
Jy’t vriende in Swede, ek het vriende in Benoni
Ek koop al my klere by die local Pep Stores save more
Jy koop al jou fokken klere by a store
Jy’s too cool for school, ek’s mos kief
Ek’s grasshopper, jy’s Lacoste sportief
Jy lat die koek flop, ek lat die huis rys…

Lees die hele liriek maar self hier – op eie risiko vir sensitiewe lesers. Ja wel, Parow se liriek gaan seker nie oor die einde van ʼn verhouding nie, maar die man weet hoe om te rym. Dis waar vanoggend se vrye assosiasie my uitgebring het. Van blow en puff, na tomato en tomahto, na KY Jelly en Vaseline, tot by Klipdrift en Peroni.

Jack Parow op watkykjy.co.za

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