Movies, Music, and the Human Race

June 26, 2024

Edited July 4, 2024

Based on a True Story

I recently went to the movies by myself, something I’ve reluctantly learned to do ever since my separation in 2021. I went to see a film called “The Bikeriders.” The synopsis is this: "Over the course of a decade, a Midwestern motorcycle club evolves from a gathering place for local outsiders to a sinister gang, threatening the original group's way of life.” A journalist decided to follow the club around for approximately five years and captured photos and interviews, which he used to write a book on which the movie is based.

It stars Austin Butler, the actor who brilliantly portrayed Elvis. I don’t usually go for this movie genre, what with the violence and coarse language, but I needed to get out of the house, so I picked a movie that at least had an actor in it that I respected. Austin (Benny) is part of a gang of bikers called the Vandals who start out simply as a club for motorcycle enthusiasts but are overtaken by younger, more ruthless gangsters that turn the club into what we might now describe as the Hell’s Angels—with members across North America dealing in drugs and prostitution. All in all, I thought it was a very good movie with excellent acting, especially from some unknown actors.

Tom Hardy, Austin Butler & Jodie Comer in "The Bikeriders"

I watched these characters all living without a care in the world, other than getting in a fight or being killed, of course, and I envied their freedom. (Truth is, I envy anyone who still has their health.) None of the guys were sick or suffered from an illness or have broken lives—although you could argue that you are most definitely broken if your life revolves around a motorcycle gang. I realize that mankind has the potential to go wild and become very dark only when it has its health. For many people, being healthy is not appreciated or respected, but rather, it is expected. It’s like a free pass to do whatever the hell you want. Think about it. You can’t go to war unless you have good health. You can’t become a criminal unless you have your health. I often wonder how I would have turned out had I not become ill so young. Unlike my dad, I was always inherently good, so even though I was exposed to the dark side through some of his criminal activity, thankfully, I chose to walk away from it in my early twenties. The God-awful things humans do to each other or to living creatures are only possible when health is present. However, puppet masters, like mafia bosses, can execute orders to have someone killed even if they are in bed dying. So, there are exceptions.

The Great Escape

Movies are a place to escape reality. For two hours, I was transported elsewhere, and despite the dark nature of the story, it felt good to be somewhere else. My life at this time is extremely difficult, as many of you may know. So, anytime I can escape hardship, especially mental anguish, I’m first in line to partake. As a child, one of the first movies I ever saw in the theatre was the musical, “Grease” with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. I vividly remember the scene where they turn a piece of junk car into a beautiful hotrod, all fully choreographed to the tune of “Greased Lightening.” I was carried away by that scene as if by magic. The characters were superhuman to me. And what they achieved, turning a junker into a gorgeous hotrod overnight with no money and no skills didn't matter; it was supposed to be impossible, alive only in their imaginations. I came home, and I was running around in circles in my backyard, feeling like I could fly. I was the hero, and I was invincible. I was John Travolta. What a feeling. How magnificent it was for me to have this incredible personal experience, one that I felt only I could feel. I was dreaming the dream, the impossible dream. I expect that most of us have had similar experiences as children, yes?

The "Greased Lightening" scene from Grease, the movie

Of course, music all by itself without any moving images can also take us away to a place that only we can experience. Within seconds of hearing a song, it can conjure up moments in your life: happy, sad, melancholic, excited, aroused, etc. You can burst into tears after just a few bars, as I often do. Some songs tell your story so perfectly that you feel as if you could have written them yourself. And some make you long for the past or wish you were someone else. For example, the song “Le Blues du Businessman” by Québec singer Claude Dubois tells the story from the perspective of a businessman who lives in his office in his ivory tower, travels all over the world first-class yet begs the question, “Am I happy?” to which he answers “No”. It follows with the businessman singing in a full tenor voice and lamenting about what he wished he had been in his life. The refrain goes, “J’aurias voulu être un artiste,” which translates to, “I wish I had been an artist.” This is then followed by “Jaurais voulu être….” I wish I had been… an actor, a singer, an author, an anarchist and live like a millionaire. Although I have not had the experience of great wealth in this life, I’ve had good fortune, one might say, to have lived as an artist, a singer, and, to some extent, an author. I’ve never been an anarchist, though, nor have I ever been a millionaire! 

Patrick, a.k. Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionicman

The song “Le Blues du Businessman” is one of the most recognizable French Canadian hits by celebrated Québecois singer, Claude Dubois. Even if you don’t speak French, I think you’ll likely agree that the melody is really beautiful and quite poignant. You can really feel the yearning and, even a touch of heartbreak in the singer’s voice. I hope you enjoy it.

Le Blues du Businessman – Claude Dubois

J'ai du succès dans mes affaires
J'ai du succès dans mes amours
Je change souvent de secrétaire

J'ai mon bureau en haut d'une tour
D'où je vois la ville à l'envers
D'où je contrôle mon univers

J'passe la moitié de ma vie en l'air
Entre New-York et Singapour
Je voyage toujours en première

J'ai ma résidence secondaire
Dans tous les Hiltons de la terre
J'peux pas supporter la misère

(Au moins es-tu heureux?)
J'suis pas heureux mais j'en ai l'air
J'ai perdu le sens de l'humour
Depuis qu'j'ai le sens des affaires

J'ai réussi et j'en suis fier
Au fond je n'ai qu'un seul regret
J'fais pas ce que j'aurais voulu faire

(Qu'est-ce que tu veux mon vieux?)
(Dans la vie on fait ce qu'on peut)
(Pas ce qu'on veut)

J'aurais voulu être un artiste
Pour pouvoir faire mon numéro
Quand l'avion se pose sur la piste
À Rotterdam ou à Rio

J'aurais voulu être un chanteur
Pour pouvoir crier qui je suis
J'aurais voulu être un auteur
Pour pouvoir inventer ma vie
Pour pouvoir inventer ma vie

J'aurais voulu être un acteur
Pour tous les jours changer de peau
Et pour pouvoir me trouver beau
Sur un grand écran en couleur
Sur un grand écran en couleur

J'aurais voulu être un artiste
Pour avoir le monde à refaire
Pour pouvoir être un anarchiste
Et vivre comme un millionnaire
Et vivre comme un millionnaire

J'aurais voulu être un artiste
Fa-la-li, fa-la-la
Pour pourvoir dire pourquoi j'existe


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