One Random Single a Day #105: “Ik zie de zon” (1948) by Eddy Christiani

And now, to continue with the trend of music in the tradition of peculiar European languages, here is a song in Dutch! Although it’s not quite as weird, since I know a lot of German and the Dutch language is also Germanic… but anyway. The musician for this post is Eddy Christiani, a guitarist, singer, and composer from the Netherlands who is best known for his string of singles released between the 40s and the 70s. I haven’t found much other information on the background of the performer, but found it particularly interesting that he passed away very recently – in October 2016, at the age of 98. What a long, impressive life!

I was far more successful with finding reliable lyrics for this song than with my last post. But before we get to the lyrics, let’s talk about the music. It’s pretty much a standard uptempo jazz-swing number, with a brief horn-driven instrumental of the upcoming song introducing Christiani himself. I guess it’s just interesting to me how closely the music here resembles similar stuff that had also been popular in US airwaves at this time. I don’t know enough about the international appeal of jazz music to infer that American musicians had influenced Dutch musicians overseas, or vice versa, but it is pretty cool to discover similarities between two cultures. I would say that a lot of this even bleeds over into today’s musical climate (well, except for One Two Trio) – although it’s undeniable that the pull of the internet, social media, and other technology have become a greater influence on these trends than ever before.

But anyway, now for the song. “Ik zie de zon” translates pretty literally into “I see the sun”; as the connotations and the sound of the recording would imply, this is a happy song. Here is the first verse, loosely translated by me: “‘Oh, what bad weather it’s been all day’ / So often I hear people complain / But I ignore the barometer / I sing my song and whistle through the air”. So yes, it’s a little song about staying positive through all the dark clouds and the foreboding ominousness that bad weather – both literal and figurative – could bring. This heightened sense of optimism might be a bit grating to the modern ear, but it’s also important to note that the second World War had just recently ended, from which the Netherlands suffered a large amount of causalities, both from the battlefront and Nazi-led concentration camps. As with a lot of WWII-era jazz music, the context of the songs and instrumentals are just as important as the recordings themselves, and this one shouldn’t be any different.

So with that said, I could imagine a song like this being rather touching for a listener in 1948, fatigued by the gruesomeness of war and hatred and needing a method of escape, if only for a little while. I don’t have any information of the song’s commercial success, and thus no proof that the recording even got much of a reach at all. But nonetheless, it is as much a fascinating product of its time as any, and certainly a good, jazzy pick-me-up in any case. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a bit of optimism thrown around this way every once in a while. I’m certainly going to seek out some more Eddy Christiani records in the near future!

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