Posted by: patenttranslator | November 15, 2011

I Like To Listen To Music When I Translate

I like to listen to music when I translate easy passages, such as “Embodiments” in patents (called Ausführungsbeispiele in German and 実施例 (jisshirei) in Japanese). There is a local non-commercial radio station run by the school district here in Chesapeake that I often listen to because they play different kinds of music by genre (classical, blues, country, bluegrass, oldies) and by the decade. Oldies start from the big band era in the forties, followed by fifties, sixties, etc. A new decade starts every hour as I change the elements in chemical formulas and weight ratios in tables that I create so skillfully in my Embodiments, while the music streaming from my radio moves effortlessly from the big bands to the fifties and then to the sixties and beyond.

I also like to listen to music when I am driving in my car. The song “Pumped Up Kicks” is right now the most popular song on all the local stations here playing rock music. Since the lyrics are kind of difficult to make out, here is a summary of the lyrics courtesy of a poster on Youtube:

“For all of u wondering what this song is about…. it’s about this kid named Robert, he’s always been an outcast, and his dad is kind of messed up, he gets sick and tired of the bullying sh*t and all the rich kids so he goes to the mall with a gun from his dad and shoots the kids with the ‘pumped up kicks’ like the rich kids with the nice shoes and all that sh*t.. so there ya go.”

And here are the lyrics:

Robert’s got a quick hand. He’s looking ’round the room, he won’t tell you his plan. He’s got a rolled cigarette, hanging out his mouth he’s a cowboy kid. Yeah, he found a six shooter gun. In his dad’s closet with a box of fun things, I don’t even know what. But he’s coming for you, yeah, he’s coming for you….

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet.

Daddy works a long day. He’s coming home late, yeah, he’s coming home late. And he’s bringing me a surprise. His dinner’s in the kitchen and it’s packed in ice. I’ve waited for a long time. Yet the slide of my hand is now a quick pulled trigger, I reason with my cigarette, And say your hair’s on fire, you must have lost your wits, yeah …. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun ….

I think that the difference between the mood and the lyrics in Beatles songs from the sixties and the song “Pumped up Kicks”, which is a really cool song, I always turn the volume all the way up except when I see a cop’s car nearby, tells an interesting story about the development of our civilization in the last fifty years.

The Beatles were so gentle and non-threatening, at least in their initial albums. They did not really want to have sex with the girl that they were singing about, they just Wanted To Hold Her Hand! They were so desperate that they might have inadvertently said something wrong to her Yesterday! And to lead a better life, they wanted her to be Here, There And Everywhere!, (not realizing, young as they were, that it would be only a matter of time before they would say something wrong to her, especially should they hold her hand the wrong way, or not long enough, or too long).

It sure seems different now. Just listen to the new songs now, almost 50 years later, if you can make out the words, which is often next to impossible, especially in rap music.

But the thing is, the songs only reflect what the kids see around them in this world that we grownups have created for them. The world was shocked when John Lennon was killed for no reason at all at the end of 1980. It was so unbelievable what happened, like a bad dream that one would have to wake up from soon. And it still hurts now, 21 years later, almost as much as it did back then.

The Columbine High School shootings in 1999 in Colorado were shocking, but according to the statistics, this was “only” the fourth deadliest shooting at a school here. The Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 was even worse and most people outside of Virginia probably don’t remember them anymore. I don’t think that people are shocked as much when things like that happen. And these kinds of shootings happen now not only in America, but also in Germany, or in Norway …

Sometime I wish there was a way to go back to the black-and-white sixties when I was a dumb kid and the Beatles were singing sweet songs mostly about one subject and one subject only with names like Girl, Michelle, All My Loving, And I Love Her, Baby It’s You, and It’s Only Love.

There was a revolution in the air in the sixties, but people were not really killing each other that much just for the fun of it. They were more into wearing flowers in their hair. At least I can’t think of a single cool song from the sixties about a shooting rampage.

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Responses

  1. Yeah, the Sixties, Steve. That was the time of Timothy Leary and LSD, Height-Ashbury, and Big Brother and the Holding Company performing at the SF Cow Palace.

    And the moment you got out of college, they drafted you for military service in Vietnam–to kill or be killed.

    So much for those peaceful times…

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  2. “There was a revolution in the air in the sixties, but people were not really killing each other that much just for the fun of it. They were more into wearing flowers in their hair. At least I can’t think of a single cool song from the sixties about a shooting rampage.”

    That’s what I am saying in my post.

    Incidentally, I didn’t get to see Janis Joplin, but I saw a boat show and then also a rodeo at the San Francisco Cow Palace in 1982 or 83. It was very yee haw!

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  3. I know, Steve, you are absolutely right about the songs. It was all flowers and love and peace in the air.

    What I wanted to say is that any period has its specific cruelties, as it were, and Vietnam was the curse of the sixties and early seventies.

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  4. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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