Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bee Gees – "Words" (1968)

It's only words
And words are all I have

Actually, words are NOT all that 2 or 3 lines has.

I have pictures as well . . . like this one:

You’re probably wondering why I’m sharing a photo of Old Spice Swagger body wash with you.  I guess I've got some splaining to do!

During a recent visit with one of my children, I was assigned to use a shower that was equipped with a 32-ounce container of the aforementioned body wash.  I personally use a simple, old-fashioned bar of soap when I shower at home.  But when in Rome, one does what the Romans do . . . n’est-ce pas?

Like many consumer products, Swagger is labeled in both English and French – presumably because it is shipped to stores in Canada as well as those in the U.S., and Canadian law – in particular, Quebec law – requires bilingual labeling.

(I see cars with Quebec license plates every so often.  I think the motto on those license plates is Je me souviens or some such saying – I can’t remember.)

In case there was any doubt in your mind concerning the superiority of English to French, just look at this closeup of the Swagger container:

The product’s identity statement in English is BODY WASH.  Only two words and eight letters, and you have a clear and unambiguous statement concerning what the product is and what it does.

The product identity statement in French is NETTOYANT POUR LE CORPS.  That’s four words and twenty letters.  And even if you get rid of the superfluous “pour le” – leaving “corps nettoyant” – you’re still using 14 letters when eight is perfectly adequate.

Look a little further down on the label, and you’ll see that this 32-ounce package of Swagger is described as MAN SIZED.  (Damn straight!)  Once again, two words and eight letters get the job done.

In French, “man sized” becomes À LA HAUTEUR DE L’HOMME.  A language that requires so many words to communicate the concept of “man sized” is an undisciplined language . . . a language with no self-control . . . a language in desperate need of being whipped into shape!

*     *     *     *     *

The Bee Gees owe a lot to Robert Stigwood, who produced Saturday Night Fever.  The soundtrack album from that 1977 movie – which was the best-selling album in the U.S. for 24 consecutive weeks –  includes six songs by the Bee Gees that reached number one on the Billboard “Hot 100.”  

But before the Bee Gees became the biggest disco act of the seventies, they were a very good pop group in the sixties.

“Words,” which was released in 1968, isn’t my favorite Bee Gees song – I’d rank “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” “Holiday,” “I’ve Got to Get a Message to You,” and “Lonely Days” ahead of it.  But I’ll take “Words” over “Massachusetts,” “I Started a Joke,” and especially “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” which is a really poopy song.

Here’s “Words”:

Click below to buy that song from Amazon:

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