Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Perfect Songs - Les Cactus

Les Cactus
I'm guessing he's kind of a smartass.
I've mentioned my love of swinging French pop, particularly from the 60's. Something about it is just synonymous with a certain retro futurism that I can only imagine at the time was the sort of thing only the hipsterist of hipsters were listening to. In the US, at least. I'm sure in France it was just pop music. The thing is, I don't speak French. I understand like 3 words at this point, but still, I just love this stuff. One song in particular has inspired many a day dream where I'm in some Parisian rock club in the 60s, drinking and watching the band walk a tightrope between swinging rock n roll and somehow predicting punk rock. That song is Jacques Dutronc's "Les Cactus" and it's putain parfaite.


This is a song I discovered and fell in love with twice. The first time was maybe 10 years ago when I first heard it. I immediately loved the jerky, frazzled energy of it, the beat, the passionately yelled vocals that I didn't understand. And then, about 2 years ago, I finally got around to looking up the lyrics and finding out what it was actually about. It was something I could have done at any time, but chose not to because I was afraid it might ruin the song for me. What if the song was about something really stupid? Would I hate it? Would I lose this song I loved? Well, I took a risk and it paid off because the lyrics were so spot on in a French way, that I wound up loving the song even more. It somehow captured an entire world view, hell, reality itself, in a simple metaphor that is at once poetic and silly and makes perfect sense in this rebellious raving rocker that I'm sure influenced at least some punk rockers and beyond. This weren't at all the lyrics I imagined, they were better. Here are the English lyrics in full.

The Cactus

The entire world is a cactus
It's impossible to sit down
In life, cactus are all there is
Knowing it stings me
Ow ow ow, ouch, ow ow ow
In their hearts, there are cactus

In their wallet, there are cactus
Under their feet, there are cactus
In their vests, there are cactus
Ow ow ow, ouch ouch ouch, ow

To protect myself from their cactus
I've put out cactus, too
In my bed, I've put cactus
In my underwear, I've put cactus
Ow ow ow, ouch, ow ow ow

In their smiles, there are cactus
In their bellies, there are cactus
In their hellos, there are cactus
In their cactus, there are cactus
Ow ow ow, ouch, ow.

What more can I say about this? If there's a better way to talk about angst, it hasn't been invented. "Here we are now, entertain us"? Not even close. This is exactly it. It captures the point of view of every awkward teenager and beyond. And ultimately, it's just true, period. The whole world is a fucking cactus. And the only defense is to put cactus in your underwear. Aïe aïe aïe, ouille, aïe aïe aïe! Parfaite!

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