Recently we did two weeks of touring through Europe. Over the course of this time we became more and more aware that, as often as not, the people we were having conversations with weren’t speaking English. Most of the time we circumvented the problem by drawing simple pictures on chalkboards we kept hanging from our necks. But every once in a while a person has a message he needs to communicate, and the message is so important, so specific, that it has to be conveyed using language. On such occasions, we were usually able to brute-force our way through astride the back of our limited but determined German, our flighty French, or our one year-old baby’s Italian. But — it often occurred to us — wouldn’t it be nice to have on hand a few grammatically flawless phrases? Just a set of elegant, idiomatically-up-to-date queries and responses that we could use in navigating some of the issues common to a touring musician? Providing just such a succinct and workmanlike lexicon is exactly what those nifty yellow phrasebooks do, of course; but those books turn out to be almost useless in talking one’s way through a Dutch soundcheck, or in buying bass strings at a Parisian music shop, or in bantering between songs to an Italian audience. So we’ve endeavored to create a phrasebook for foreign bands coming to the the U.S., one that tailors to the specific needs of a touring musician. May you escape the embarrassment that we wore like itchy woolen long-johns through the bulk of our foreign travels!
This list is intended for people who have a basic but limited command of conversational English. We haven’t included the French, German, Italian, or Spanish translations for these phrases, the idea being that you probably have enough English to understand what the phrases mean, you just don’t have enough English to formulate things as elegantly and accurately as we’ve done here. By memorizing these sentences, you’ll be able to tour America and not only get your message across, but also impress hosts and listeners alike with your perspicuity and wit. Even native English speakers will listen to your sophisticated grammar jealously.
The car-gas middles. Do you max the tank and post a sentry on the oil level? Please.
Our round-rubber popped and flayed. Do you vend his brother in type and size?
The direction of the washroom is, fill in the blank.
Do you give me the fifth most powerful value meal and a Coke to clean it off the inside of my neck.
There are to be one and one and one rooms, one called Cain, one called Murray, one called Tapper. Two are the two man, and one is the one man, it is said to be. Do you need to touch my passport? I use the force of this credit card to circle and detain all three rooms.
What phase is breakfast? The question of whether it is bundled in the lodge pay.
Can I get another blanket? Embittered by cold, ravaged by temperature-fear, raped by frost, raped by ice-air, I.
This bill gives me an idea. Do you check the pull of the math to assure all is flush?
This chips and this Cokes strike deficient comparison with some facts we lodge in our contract to you. Who or where is the rider? Tell your god to send beer.
The guarantee was two times hundred with fifty, not uni-hundred with seventy-five. Call your god.
Do I not hear my voice from this monitor lizard. Do you now impress my voice upon me? I still hearn’t — do you make it faster. Faster.
We will write the next song while in heat over a girl. She then was killed in our minds, but still the song.
Hello, leisurely [name of city]! What’s the deal? Who’s up for it? What’s the deal, [name of city]? How is it? Who wants a deal? What is it? Who can make a deal? Who is it? Where is it? What is it?
This song is called [song name]. When you don’t dance to it, your life is a wing-sheet of pain. When not a wing-sheet, then blur your tube-sacs in motion.
The last song is now, when I finish wording. Tonight has changed our thought about you, which we doubted. Never home, but this is our home! What is it? Who wants a deal?
To us, music fills wheat with meaning. It is slick. If you drop a pebble through a pond top, [host name], you have caused the spreading, you have ramified the rounded grid that then the fish can move underneath and against.
The lyrics are endrenched with politics after real life is endrenched with politics.
If dogs have chased you, then do you not wear cats, you hear? It’s a simple motion, but sometimes you forgot. To also say it is that if you wear wood, do you not wear the overcoat of flame or the crown of flame and gas.
Vast steaks you see. You hear? And whistle the forest, Jack Frost! Big battle bats bat across a vast forest whistle… Do you mark time on physical beats! On fiscal beats! Or whistle beasts! Yesterday I brunch with that inchoate elderly, and does he signal his whistle rudely, and do I pierce and whine, but come what feasts of vast steak! A peace-gate. A certain nutrition, fiscal and vast. Red tardy debt.
Do you speak French/German/Spanish/Dutch/Italian?