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Pete Atkin >> Words >> Between us there is nothing
(Message started by: Russ Chandler on Today at 12:46)

Title: Between us there is nothing
Post by Russ Chandler on Today at 12:46
In the process of working out this song on acoustic guitar.

Are there any occult meanings in the lyrics I might have missed? All the lines juxtaposing sordid Soho with exotic images like grainhulks, mangrove deltas and Spanish goldtrails all create a feeling of dislocation and scale which match the song beautifully but I'm just wondering if there might be literary references that have flown a bit over my head.

Leslie Moss (on this thread: http://www.peteatkin.com/cgi-bin/mv/YaBB.cgi?board=Words;action=display;num=1140829677;start=5#5) reckons they are "Baudelairean" (which I have no idea about - must have ill that day when we did him as school) but is it possible they are more specific than that?

Any thoughts, anyone?

Title: Re: Between us there is nothing
Post by Leslie Moss on Today at 14:58
"Leslie Moss (on this thread: http://www.peteatkin.com/cgi-bin/mv/YaBB.cgi?board=Words;action=display;num=1140 829677;start=5#5) reckons they are "Baudelairean""

Flattering to be thought learned enough about literature to be able to deconstruct BUTIN as Baudelairean but I think you'll find that that was Keith Busby, who has more claim to such knowledge than I, who made those comments.

But it is certainly true that this has always been one of my favourite Atkin/james songs (alongside a couple of hundred other of my favourite Atkin/James songs!). While I can't lay claim to understanding the allusions, I do think that the "feel" of the lyrics is perfectly matched by the feel of the music.


Title: Re: Between us there is nothing
Post by Russ Chandler on Today at 15:02
My apologies to the erudite Mr Busby!

Title: Re: Between us there is nothing
Post by Keith Busby on Today at 15:31
'ere, oo're you callin' erudite?

Baudelairean, a la Baudelaire, mainly because of the general contrast between the mundane and the yearning for the exotic, which is a constant theme of his poetry, and which seems to characterize "Between Us," too.  This is exactly what you've sensed.

I do this song in A (G with capo on 2), mainly because of my vocal range. The inversions sound quite good.



Title: Re: Between us there is nothing
Post by Pete Atkin on Today at 18:37
Clive has said somewhere that the starting idea for 'Between Us There Is Nothing' was a Louis Macneice poem, 'Meeting Point' ("Time was away and somewhere else...").   The poem doesn't 'explain' the song -- not that it really needs 'explaining', I think, does it? --  but it might help to put it in perspective, or focus, or something.  

It was always a favourite of Roger Quested, by the way, who engineered the Morgan albums and who went on to become a big noise in the world of loudspeakers.


Title: Re: Between us there is nothing
Post by Kevin Cryan on Today at 20:21
The text of MacNiece's much anthologised poem is to be found here (http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/txt/1301.txt). It and other poems of the period are to be found in the very useful Poetry of the Thirties introduced and edited by Robin Skelton (Penguin).

However it is as Pete says; you really don't need much background to enjoy this song.  

Those of you interested in following up the Baudelaire link might start with the La Mort (The Death) sequence from Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil), especially La Mort des amants (The Death of Lovers)

La Mort des Amants

Nous aurons des lits pleins d'odeurs légères,
Des divans profonds comme des tombeaux,
Et d'étranges fleurs sur des étagères,

Ecloses pour nous sous des cieux plus beaux.
Usant à l'envi leurs chaleurs dernières,
Nos deux coeurs seront deux vastes flambeaux,
Qui réfléchiront leurs doubles lumières

Dans nos deux esprits, ces miroirs jumeaux.
Un soir fait de rose et de bleu mystique,
Nous échangerons un éclair unique,
Comme un long sanglot, tout chargé d'adieux;

Et plus tard un Ange, entr'ouvrant les portes,
Viendra ranimer, fidèle et joyeux,
Les miroirs ternis et les flammes mortes.

— Charles Baudelaire

The English translation I'm chosen here comes, like MacNiece's poem, from the 1930s, but that is only because more modern translations I have found seem to me to be a tad too flat and prosaic to do justice to Baudelaire. Having said that, I have to own up and say that my French is not good enough to put a judgement like that forward with any great confidence.

La Mort des amants

beds of subtle fragrance shall be ours,
soft divans far deeper than a tomb,
fairer climes shall yield mysterious flowers
— flowers which for us were made to bloom.

lavishing our final amorous hours
there, our flaming hearts shall merge and loom
in the twin mirrors of these souls of ours
— torches vast which side by side consume.

then some evening, rose and mystic blue,
charged with the sobbing woe of our adieu,
Love shall links us in one lightning-spark;

later, shall the faithful angel fling
all the portals wide, illumining
the flameless torches and the mirrors dark.

— Lewis Piaget Shanks, Flowers of Evil (New York: Ives Washburn, 1931)


Title: Re: Between us there is nothing
Post by Kevin Cryan on 28.03.06 at 07:02
By the way, Poetry of the Thirties is still in print, and that's as it should be. Anthologies as good as this should never be out of print. Reasonably priced copies can be purchased from those wonderful people at Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0141184574/026-6510687-1012429).

Copies of Baudelaire's Fleurs Du Mal - not I hasten to add with the translation I've chosen- can be obtained for a very reasonable price by clicking here (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/274199/026-6510687-1012429).


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