Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

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Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Aspiemom on March 20th, 2011, 7:39 pm

We're diving into the deep end this week with "The Rose Tattoo" from Rei Momo. The lyric is a bit opaque to me, perhaps to allow room for interpretation. Partly also because of my bad Spanish. The song style is called Bomba/Mozambique.

The lyrics are below, with my attempted Spanish to English translation in brackets:

And they were imagining Roses As if life itself were a dream
Is a gift not a reason for living?
Not enough, not enough, so it seems

Lost in the Stars
Venus and mars
And I’m in heaven again
I’ll drink to you
The Rose Tattoo
I’m the invisible man

If all of the dead are now living
And all of the living will die
Buying their tickets and changing their trains
Into the city and back home again

I’ll drink to you
The Rose Tattoo
I’m the invisible man

Brinde a la Rosa [Give a rose]
Y al hombre que no vive [and the man who does not live]
Perdido en un sueño [lost in a dream]
en un atmosfera imposible [in an impossible atmosphere?]

Una Rosa, sueño imposible/una Rosa, sueño imposible [a rose, impossible dream]
No queda nada [nothing remains]
Solo la lluvia iresistible [only the irresistable rain?]
Tatuaje de la Rosa, pero el hombre es invisible [the rose tattoo, but the man is invisible]

Una Rosa, sueno imposible/Una Rosa, no queda nada

Now I haven’t seen you for ages
Come in, come out of the rain
Open the doorway and climb up the stairs
This is the bedroom where we said our prayers

I’ll drink to you
The Rose Tattoo
I’m the invisible man
The singer’s playin’ “Fly Me to the Moon”
And I’m in heaven again

Brinde a la Rosa [repeats lyrics translated above]
Y al hombre que no vive
Perdido en un sueno
en un atmosfera imposible

Una Rosa, sueño imposible/una Rosa, sueño imposible
No queda nada
Solo la lluvia iresistible
Tatuaje de la Rosa, pero el hombre is invisible

Una Rosa, sueño imposible/Una Rosa, no queda nada

I’ll drink to you
The Rose Tattoo
I’m the invisible man
Long live the King
Nothing remains
Only a Rose Tattoo

I'm picturing a man of a servant class sitting alone at a bar, :drink: who has fallen in love for a rich woman (represented by the rose) who pays not attention to him ("the invisible man"). As long as he can stay lost in a dream world where she loves him back, he is "in heaven." When he comes back to reality, nothing remains. Well, nothing but a rose tattoo. What is that about? Is it his tattoo? It might be a reference to the Williams play "The Rose Tattoo," but I can't work that out.
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Aspiemom on March 20th, 2011, 7:46 pm

Here's a link to Sinatra's version of "Fly me to the Moon," the song the band is playing in "The Rose Tattoo". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rAsoLm1Ges
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Oedepus on March 20th, 2011, 10:04 pm

Brinde a la rosa: A toast for the rose/drink for the rose

This song has recurrent themes in Byrne's catalogue, the first time I heard it what instantly struck me was how The visible man cd begins with Fuzzy Freaky, which opens with the line "Rose is tattoed in a perfect place"

!
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Aspiemom on March 21st, 2011, 3:00 am

Oedepus wrote:Brinde a la rosa: A toast for the rose/drink for the rose

This song has recurrent themes in Byrne's catalogue, the first time I heard it what instantly struck me was how The visible man cd begins with Fuzzy Freaky, which opens with the line "Rose is tattoed in a perfect place"

!

Thanks for the translation help. "Give" had me going back to the first line about a gift as a reason for living. Toast or drink echoes the chorus.

"Fuzzy Freaky" is the first track on Feelings too. Where is the perfect place for a rose tattoo, anyway? I'd hate to get one in an imperfect place!

I'm reconsidering whether the rose is a woman at all. It could represent just an ideal rose, so beautiful and perfect that real life seems like a dream by comparison. The singer may be having a (liqour aided) visionary experience where he sees life, death, and beauty clearly. The tattoo is a form of art, an attempt to capture the vision before it vanishes.
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Aspiemom on March 22nd, 2011, 3:07 am

Oedepus wrote:This song has recurrent themes in Byrne's catalogue


Why are the recurring themes so much fun? Maybe they pull in the puzzle-solving part of my brain into listening. This song uses a bunch of familiar images: lost, heaven, trips that end where they started (round trip, circle, spinning!), city, home, shelter from rain. I'm going to write about stairs and dreaming tonight. (I am very bored with basketball).

Stairs: Granted, stairs aren't a huge recurring image, but there is a nice parallel between this song's "Open the doorway and climb up the stairs," with "Revolution's" line "Beauty goes to her address, she shuts the door and climbs the steps." Do the steps represent a bit of a struggle to get home? I hear that even New Yorkers prefer elevator buildings to walkup apartments. Maybe the stairs show a lack of affluence?

Dreaming: Rei Momo has a lot of dreaming going on. As in "The Rose Tattoo," "The Dream Police" blurs the distinction between life and dreams, prosecuting people for the crimes they committed while sleeping. "Carnival Eyes" has "What a day for dreaming" and asks what is inside her eyes, so far away? But the biggest parallel in the album may be between the suffering "invisible man" and the pitiable "poor boy" in "Make Believe Mambo." They are both living in a dream world, but the poor boy based his dreams on television ("He's just a clever imitation of the people on t.v."). The invisible man at least used his imagination. Is the invisible man in touch with some higher truth, or is he just dodging reality too, like the guy in "Lie to Me" who just wants to be happy and can't stand the pain?

It's interesting that the invisible man is "lost in the stars, Venus and Mars" on a night when it is raining and presumably starless. Is it good or bad to be this far inside of one's own head? Is the invisible man so far gone that a friend or family member has to go looking for him to remind him to "come in, come out of the rain?" :coffee:
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Oedepus on March 22nd, 2011, 4:17 am

What a fascinating song!

The venus and mars thing made me picture the narrator as someone who is clearly very dreamy and head over heels over someone or something. It's a very romantic idea, the man standing outside in the rain...

"If all of the dead are now living" just noticed this also happens often in Byrne's songs (zombies in Uh-Oh, the living and dead on Back in the box)

"The room where we said our prayers" stands out to me as well, that's some great imagery there...mixed with the space scenario and the invisible man, I can picture everything in my mind. But what was he trying to convey with the prayer room? sounds like him and another person both sat at the edges of the bed and prayed with their eyes closed.

About the rose tattoo in Feelings...could it be he's talking about the same people in this song? (Monkey boy and the Leopard girl)
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby muleskinner on March 22nd, 2011, 11:45 am

OK. I'll drop some crumbs here boys and girls....let's start from the top...Ralph Ellison wrote a book called Invisible Man. In parts of it, the topic of vodun (candomble) comes up.

Now that we have some context, Rei Momo is the musical (there's also quite a bit of visual, but we can discuss the visual stuff another time) representation of DB's involvement with candomble. Those of us who are old enough remember the Rei Momo band dressed all in white (which has exactly -nothing- to do with dressing in white on the latest tour, but I digress) which is what initiates into the religion have to wear.

Candomble contains lots of rose imagery (often without thorns, since the thorns can hurt the spirit) and a lady named Maria Padilla seems to recur, an orisha who represents female sexuality. The orishas themselves are invisible spirits which "ride" their human hosts (Papa Legba/come and ride your horse).

Discuss.
I'm getting verklempt.

jg
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Aspiemom on March 23rd, 2011, 3:09 am

muleskinner wrote: Rei Momo is the musical (there's also quite a bit of visual, but we can discuss the visual stuff another time) representation of DB's involvement with candomble.

Discuss.
I'm getting verklempt.

jg


Thanks, jg. :coffee:

I am currently experiencing Candomble information overload, thanks to Google. I decided to put the pantheon aside for tonight and pick out one interesting detail I found on a Jungian religious site. It said that in Candomble, "life occurs in two levels: AIYE (the world, man's dwelling place), and ORUN (beyond, the ORISHA's dwelling place, a world parallel to the real world, which coexists with all the contents of this one). Each individual, tree, animal, city, etc has its spiritual and abstract double in ORUN. The myths reveal that in distant times AYE and ORUN were connected, and men could come and go as they pleased from one place to the other. However, one order was violated, and there was the consequent separation and the unfolding of existence."

"And they were imagining roses, as if life itself were a dream" could refer to this double-existence of our physical world and the beyond. "Buying their tickets and changing their trains" could refer to the past ability of people to travel from one realm to the other and back, "Into the city and back home again." Cool how the "city" represents an ideal across many DB lyrics, from "Road to Nowhere" to "One Fine Day."

S!mbells, I still can't figure out the tattoo part. Glad we're on the same train though, wherever its going. ;)
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Oedepus on March 23rd, 2011, 5:32 pm

"AIYE" sounds like what the woman is singing in the live version of Help me somebody.

And David also made that documentary called Ile Aiye
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Aspiemom on March 24th, 2011, 2:52 am

Oedepus wrote:The venus and mars thing made me picture the narrator as someone who is clearly very dreamy and head over heels over someone or something. It's a very romantic idea, the man standing outside in the rain...

"The room where we said our prayers" stands out to me as well, that's some great imagery there...mixed with the space scenario and the invisible man, I can picture everything in my mind. But what was he trying to convey with the prayer room? sounds like him and another person both sat at the edges of the bed and prayed with their eyes closed.)


Yes, romantic like Heathcliff wandering around on the moors, or some courtly lover pining away for a woman above his station. Not sure that's what the song is getting at, but it works for me! Venus and Mars could represent male and female (thanks Dr. Gray for marketing the crap out of that metaphor), or love and war/ creation and destruction. A lot of opposites in the song: male/ female, life/death, heaven/earth. Interesting that dreaming is set forth as the opposite of living ("el hombre que no vive, perdido en un sueno.") (wow, autocorrect really hates Spanish)

It's "bedroom where we said our prayers.". The shared bedroom and past tense verb make me think of children. Perhaps this dreamer has been retrieved by a parent or a sibling ("come in come out of the rain"). Climbing the stairs to reach that room positions that space between heaven and earth maybe?
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Oedepus on March 25th, 2011, 4:50 am

Aspiemom wrote:It's "bedroom where we said our prayers.". The shared bedroom and past tense verb make me think of children. Perhaps this dreamer has been retrieved by a parent or a sibling ("come in come out of the rain"). Climbing the stairs to reach that room positions that space between heaven and earth maybe?


That's a wonderful interpretation.

My song and circumstance book arrived yesterday, it's a lot more dense and academic than I ever imagined, but it's a great read, it's certainly making me smarter :D I read you saying the solo albums are skeemed through, that's the only down side.
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Aspiemom on April 10th, 2011, 1:43 am

muleskinner wrote:OK. I'll drop some crumbs here boys and girls....let's start from the top...Ralph Ellison wrote a book called Invisible Man. In parts of it, the topic of vodun (candomble) comes up.
jg


Sorry to post on an old thread, but I just found somthing interesting. William S. Burroughs called himself "El Hombre Invisible" while he lived in Latin America after fatally shooting his wife. In the introduction to Queer, published in 1985, he explained that after his wife's death, he felt an intense need for attention, as if he would not exist unless someone were looking at him. He compared himself to "an unobserved photon." The song could be about Burroughs, wishing that he could bring his wife back from the dead. "I haven't seen you in ages. Come in, come out of the rain" could be his response to a real or imagined visit from his wife's ghost (or maybe I'm just superimposing Wuthering Heights). Burroughs also sought mind-altering drugs in Brazil and elsewhere, including heroin and something called yage. Maybe yage is the drink? I'll stick to coffee. :coffee:
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Oedepus on April 10th, 2011, 3:36 am

Woah, that's a pretty interesting take on it! I was just reading about Burroughs a few days ago, the south america part is what I read first.
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Re: Song of the Week- March 20- "The Rose Tattoo"

Postby Aspiemom on April 10th, 2011, 4:30 am

Oedepus wrote:Woah, that's a pretty interesting take on it! I was just reading about Burroughs a few days ago, the south america part is what I read first.


Cool, we can check out Burroughs together! I'm cheating with an anthology called Word Virus, which tries to distill his career into one book. I'm 22% through the book, and so far it is some of the most vivid and funny prose I have ever read.

Another Burroughs/Byrne connection: Yage is supposed to make you dream about cities!

Reading my last post, I think I omitted an important detail. Burroughs may have felt invisible after his wife's death because she was the only person who saw and understood him. Without her as an audience, he doubted his own existence. :geek: True, Burroughs was gay, but by all accounts he had a strong, if mostly platonic, bond with his wife. Then he shot her. I feel like some of my posts are too dark, but Burroughs puts me to shame!
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