Thursday, November 29, 2012

FRANK ALAMO - BITCH, MY BITCH! And Lou Gherig's Disease, too

Having passed on without much ink, the death of Jean-Francois Grandin, aka Frank (or "Franck") Alamo, is hereby noted, a month late. He died October 11th of Lou Gherig's disease (ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) which does show the influence of American baseball around the world. Or how diseased we are all becoming. He just missed making it to his birthday (October 12th, 1941).

Alamo wasn't known in England or America because he was an importer. He took English language songs and covered them for the French market. "Leader of the Pack" became "Le Chef De La Bande." While nonsense words were universal, "Da Doo Ron Ron" did require some Franco-filing to become a hit in Paris. Otherwise, Frenchies might've thought the song had something to do with kitten feces ("Ronron" is the name of a cat food in France, and Da Doo is, well, da doo).

It's possible Frank could've made more than francs if he chose to sing an English translation of his biggest French hit, "Biche ma Biche" (aka "Biche oh ma Biche"). Especially if the translation was "Bitch, Oh My Bitch."

The original lines:

"Biche, ô ma biche. Lorsque tu soulignes. Au crayon noir tes jolis yeux.

"Biche ô ma Biche. Moi je m'imagine. Que ce sont deux papillons bleus."

The illfolks translation:

"Bitch, oh, my bitch. Your soul is lost. I've got a black crayon to bring joy to you.

"Bitch, oh my bitch, in my imagination, you could give a butterfly the blues."

Something like that.

OK, the actual translation of the song's title is "Sweets for my Sweet." To which we say "Merde!"

Alamo's peak years were the early 60's. It was a fairly recent John Wayne movie of the day, that led his record label's president to re-name him "Alamo." But by the late 60's, at the same time John Wayne was losing fans with his pro-Vietnam rhetoric, the singer lost interest in music. He owned a car company and focused most of his energy on business ventures. In the 90's, nostalgia for Frank's "ye ye" music (and his Beatles yeah-yeah covers) led him to try and revive his career. Fortunately, unlike Lou Gherig who was struck down while still playing baseball, or Catfish Hunter, who died at 53, Alamo did get back to singing and have his second chance, before the problems associated with his motor neurone disease became too severe. When that happened, well, life can be "biche," ie, sweet, and sometimes, living can be a bitch.

Remembering ALAMO…

FRANK ALAMO Biche oh ma Biche

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