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Friday, 5 October 2012

Song for expats, Part 1

Music has always been a huge part of my life. I have soundtracks for every mood, for every part of my life. I love music from all genres and styles, and all parts of the world.  I am fascinated by the sheer amount of beautiful, inspiring songs. I like songs that make me think and contemplate, and songs that make me laugh, and songs about having fun. I like songs with complicated harmonies and songs with simple beats. I've been thinking about songs for expats, and I looked around and found many beautiful songs about expat life, feeling misunderstood and strange, and also about the excitement moving around brings- and about feeling at home somewhere. Since I have so many songs, this will be a little series with different songs about all the aspects of expat life. If you have any more suggestions for expat songs, please share them in the comments!
In the meantime, enjoy my little selection for today!

1) "Englishman in New York" by Sting

I think this is the first song that comes to mind when you think of possible expat songs. It has such a beautiful, jazzy melody, and Sting's voice and lyrics fit it perfectly. And I can relate to what he sings about: everything we do gives us away as expats, as foreigners, as legal aliens: our customs, our habits, our accents ("You can hear it in my accent when I talk") And while he criticizes the society he now belongs to: "Honesty, sobriety, are rare in this society", he also gives good advice: "Be yourself, no matter what they say!".





2) "People are strange" by the Doors

Another song about feeling strange, weird, alienated, excluded. It is not explicitly an expat song, but it can describe the feeling many expats get sometimes. I like the part where he sings: "No one remembers your name"- so true, and sometimes it's even "No one can pronounce your name". On the other hand, to the stranger other people seem strange as well. Thanks you, Jim Morrison for this beautiful, thoughtful song.




3) 'I like to be in America" from West Side Story

Let's switch genres, shall we? This is a very funny song, but it discusses so many important topics: which one is better: your culture or that of your host country? Did reality meet your expectations you had of your host country? Also, the discussion between Anita and Bernardo makes it clear that there are several types of expats: the ones who were born in the USA - who are treated like Americans (like Tony, who is actually half- Swedish, half-Polish) and the ones that came later - like the Puertoricans, who feel they are treated like a worse type of human being. 


 

4) "Clandestino" by Manu Chao

You might feel like a legal alien sometimes, but at least you're a legal one. You can get a job, you can get help, you can be treated like a human being. Not everybody has this privilege. This song is about "illegal immigrants" who come to Europe from other countries. Also, the EU goes to great lengths to ensure that every culture and every language is treated in an equal fashion, it only applies to EU cultures and languages. What about the rest of the world? Can't they be included, too? Also, apparently the Netherlands are debating on this very topic.

5) 'Bei mir bistu Schein" sung by the Andrews Sisters

This is an old Yiddish song from 1933, made famous by the Andrews Sisters in 1937. I love this jazzy, swingy version! I love the voices and how the singer can sing in perfect harmony. For me, this is a song for all in intercultural relationships. Many people say that being in a intercultural relationship is more difficult because of cultural differences. I say that if you can speak more languages, you can say "I love you" in so many more ways. "I could say bella, bella, even say wunderbar, each language only helps me tell you how swell you are!"


More songs to come soon!



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