Sunday, 24 April 2016

Music on Sunday; Songs inspired by Shakespeare

Yesterday I made the quotes, today the songs that go with it; Enjoy;

From the album 'Nothing like the sun' which is also from Sonnet 130 just like the words 'My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun'

This is Morrissey in all his pretentious glory. The lyrics show the protagonist judging a girl on her literary preferences and on how she mis-quotes Shakespeare.

‘You say: “ere thrice the sun done salutation to the dawn”
And you claim these words as your own
But I’ve read well, and I’ve heard them said
A hundred times, maybe less, maybe more’

The quote here is supposed to be Ratcliff’s lines from Richard III:

‘My lord, ’tis I. The early village cock
Hath twice done salutation to the morn.’ (5.5.163)

She goes on to then quote in the lyrics:

‘You say: “ere long done do does did”
Words which could only be your own
And then you then produce the text
From whence was ripped some dizzy whore, 1804’

As Morrissey suggests, this line seems to be created by the girl in question as they are a jumble of words.

With this song, Morrissey is condemning plagiarism:

‘If you must write prose and poems
The words you use should be your own
Don’t plagiarise or take “on loans”
There’s always someone, somewhere
With a big nose, who knows
And who trips you up and laughs
When you fall’

He expresses the danger that if you just reproduce somebody else’s work as your own, there will be someone who is familiar with the original and will catch you out. However, at the same time, he is also saying that plagiarism is inevitable with the proof that the “dizzy whore” wrote the quoted words he believed were original.

The title of the album The Queen Is Dead could also be a reference to Shakespeare as these lines are reported  in Macbeth (5.5.16) and  in Cymbeline (5.5.27). However, it may also be a reference to one of the sections of Hubert Selby Jr.’s novel Last Exit to Brooklyn.

The title and the line ‘I’m a thousand miles from danger if I make a better stranger of you’ are inspired by the scathing line that Orlando delivers to Jaques in As You Like It:

‘I do desire we may be better strangers’ (3.2.253)

In an interview with Drowned in Sound, vocalist Mike Kerr said:

‘I got the title from a Shakespeare line, from As You Like It: ‘I do desire we may be better strangers’ and I thought: ‘What a brilliant insult!’ It really related to me, ’cause I’d been in a situation where I wanted to know someone a whole lot less, you know?’

The phrase “dogs of war” comes from Julius Caesar:

“Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war” (3.1.273)

The idea of soldiers being compared to dogs that have been trained for warfare was prevalent before Shakespeare’s time and I’ve found that, as my research goes on, I’m tending to look for allusions to Shakespeare where his inspiration is not intentional. Whether Pink Floyd are making a reference to Shakespeare with this song is unclear, they may well just be using a popular phrase.

Other artists that quote “dogs of war” are: Saxon, The Exploited, Ghostface Killah, Mot├Ârhead, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Biohazard and AC/DC.

‘The more I think about it, Old Billy was right
Let’s kill all the lawyers, kill ’em tonight’

The Eagles take Dick the Butcher’s ever popular line from Henry VI, Part II:

‘The first thing we do let’s kill all the lawyers.’ (4.2.78)
The song is about Don Henley and Glenn Frey’s frustration with people blaming their problems on others and the trend of suing to gain ‘cash’ from a ‘little crash’ and by killing the lawyers, this eliminates the possibility to do so.

The nickname ‘Old Billy’ disassociates the quote from Shakespeare and makes it more colloquial and, perhaps, more accessible.

Another fact is that this line is also echoed in the film Hook in which the lost boy, Rufio, shouts ‘kill the lawyer’ once it has been revealed that Peter Pan (Robin Williams) has become a lawyer after leaving Neverland (a profession akin to that of a pirate).

© KH

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